The Georgia football team woke up Saturday morning, probably stared out at the Rocky Mountains, and remembered that it absolutely had to win this football game.
Just like it had to win the previous game. And the one before that.
Three weeks ago, Georgia still had what seemed a reasonable goal of winning the SEC East. Three losses later, it may need to beat Colorado on Saturday night to retain hopes of even making a bowl.
But the Bulldogs can be forgiven for being weary of win-or-else games. Junior receiver Logan Gray summed it up:
“Arkansas game, we needed to get a win. Lost a tough one. Last week it was we gotta get a win, we GOTTA get a win. Then it didn’t work out,” Gray said.
“This is another week. Gotta get a win. Nobody wants it worse than the players. I think there’s a lot of people that are upset about how things are going, being 1-3. But there’s nobody more upset than us.”
Georgia should at least get a lift with the return of receiver A.J. Green. The star junior is coming off an NCAA suspension, and in his absence the Bulldogs’ offense has struggled mightily.
Colorado head coach Dan Hawkins expects Green’s presence to be a lift.
“I think they need that shot in the arm, just emotionally,” Hawkins said.
Colorado is honoring its 1990 national championship team. But things have changed a lot in 20 years.
The Buffaloes (2-1) have not had a winning season since 2005, the final year of Gary Barnett’s head coaching tenure. (Barnett, who was an assistant on the 1990 title team, is scheduled to be among those honored Saturday.)
Hawkins replaced Barnett and has gone 18-34, and probably needs a big season to avoid losing his job. Hawkins ranks No. 5 on the web site Coacheshotseat.com.One spot behind Hawkins on that same list is Georgia’s Mark Richt.
This will be a slight homecoming for Richt, who lived near Boulder for seven years as a child. His father was working at IBM in Boulder, before moving the family to south Florida.
“Looking out my window I could see the Rocky Mountains,” Richt said.
If the Bulldogs can leave the Rockies with a victory, they could see a winning record soon. They should be favored in their next two games, at home against Tennessee and Vanderbilt.
Then again, few expected the Bulldogs to be 1-3 heading into this matchup.
“They’re still the same Georgia team,” Colorado quarterback Tyler Hansen said. “They know what it’s like to win. So it’s not like it’s anything new to them. It is new to them that they’re losing right now, actually. But they’re still the same Georgia team. Same athletes, same good players. Just because they lost the last three games doesn’t mean they’re a bad team at all.”
This will be the last of Georgia’s run of western road trips, after games at Arizona State and Oklahoma State. Earlier this week, new athletics director Greg McGarity announced the cancellation of a series with Oregon, citing the effect mid-season travel has on a team.
But in Georgia’s current state, quarterback Aaron Murray pointed out that there was a way for his team to feel refreshed on Sunday.
“Especially if we win, that flight will be not so bad. I think everyone will sleep peacefully on the plane,” Murray said.