I was a little bit surprised at how clearly the Georgia-Clemson game was named the most anticipated non-conference game by our SEC bloggers this year. There were other intriguing match-ups, and not just in the first week, to compete with the Bulldogs' trip to South Carolina to take on the Tigers. But, on second thought, it's not that much of a surprise. This is a preseason Top 10 match-up that could very well knock one of these teams out of the national title conversation.
And did we mention POINTS? Because this team is probably going to be a track meet, with Georgia experiencing massive offseason losses off a solid defense and Clemson losing more modestly off of an average defense. Add to that the Clemson players like Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins Jr. and Georgia players like Aaron Murray, Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, and you have the recipe for an offensive knock-down drag-out the likes of which we don't often see in the SEC.
Georgia comes into this game facing the two most important weeks that the program has seen in a long time. Wins at Clemson and against South Carolina would set the Dawgs up nicely for a run at the national championship; after that, the home game against LSU and the neutral-site match-up with Florida line up as the only real obstacles between Georgia and the SEC Championship Game and a potential rematch with Alabama -- once again, with a berth in the BCS title game on the line.
Clemson has a little more time to catch its breath; they face South Carolina State next week, then play N.C. State on Sept. 19, and likely won't see a ranked team until they face Florida State in mid-October. Georgia will have Clemson's full attention in this one, and Clemson will have the home-field advantage to boot.
Still, this is the kind of game that Georgia has to win if it wants to compete for a national title. And with the kind of veterans they have on offense, this might be the best chance Mark Richt has at that elusive crystal football -- as long as the defense can get the Dawgs through the first two weeks. Or as long as the offense is capable of picking them up, as they will be tonight.
Georgia 52, Clemson 40