Mark Richt’s teams have always had certain trademark qualities that made them excel at during his reign as head coach in Athens, but recently the same thing can be expected more than often in big games… a loss.
Sometimes the losses are gut wrenching – like the loss to South Carolina in 2011. Sometimes they are not necessarily competitive in the second half – like the losses to Boise State in 2011, LSU in 2011 and South Carolina in 2012.
No matter how you slice it big games have not been going Georgia’s way for a while, which is a troubling trend to be sure.
Now, it can’t be said that Mark Richt can’t win a big game – obviously a person who has one two SEC titles and two Sugar Bowls understands winning on the big stage. But those wins are further and further in the rearview mirror, and fans continue to have what-have-you-done-for-me-lately syndrome, which is fine when you win.
But the point remains that if there is one single problem at Georgia it is the Bulldogs’ inability to win “big” games. Just what is a “big” game? Depends on who you ask, but generally you can feel it, and it is understood. I will point out that wins that are big an consequential i.e. the 45-7 win over Auburn last fall, the 37-15 win over the Tigers in 2006 or even the "We Run This State" win over top-ten Georgia Tech in 2009 – are never given their full due as often folks focus on the negative.
The argument could be made that any game against Auburn, Florida or Georgia Tech – teams the Bulldogs swept last season – are always big games. And that’s certainly true to some extent, but in games with the entre country watching, i.e. Saturday night, Georgia is not doing itself any favors on the national scene.
Nationally, no one is going to take Georgia seriously until it wins a big game. The problem, but opportunity, is that the Bulldogs only have one big game left all season – Florida. Auburn and Georgia Tech look so bad right now there is no reason to have any snippy comments made about them. In those contests Georgia will almost certainly be considered the favorite. That likely won’t be the case against the Gators, but time will tell on that.
So Georgia’s season, like last year and most years, will come down to its performance against Florida. A win may well put Georgia back in Atlanta for to play for the SEC Championship. A loss will go a long way to cement the thinking that Georgia simply can’t win the big game.