Georgia is a 16.5-point favorite against a team Richt is convinced could beat the No. 10 Bulldogs by more than that margin. That opponent, the UAB Blazers, is a veteran of throwing scares and more into program’s of Georgia’s size and stature.
Since 2000, UAB has beaten three teams from BCS conferences, including a 13-10 win over LSU in Baton Rouge, and come within one score of beating or tying Tennessee, Georgia and Oklahoma.
“Sooner or later I’m sure they feel they’re going to win one of these games,” Richt said. “I just hope it’s not this week.”
In this year’s season-opener, the Blazers lost 24-17 to the Sooners without defensive end Larry McSwain, the preseason Conference USA defensive player of the year. McSwain returned for last week’s game against East Carolina and will play this week.
“I really think they could get in our league and play in our league,” senior linebacker Danny Verdun Wheeler said.
Richt hasn’t had to convince his players of the danger posed by UAB, he said.
“I think sometimes the fans may sit there or the media may sit there and say, ‘Well, that’s not a team that can beat you,’ and sometimes you have to convince your team by saying this or saying that,” Richt said, “but all we have to do is turn on the game film and et them watch and they’ll know we’re in for a battle. We don’t have to make up a bunch of stuff and convince them of anything.”
The Blazers, who are led by starting quarterback Sam Hunt’s 136 yards per game, have 23 seniors on their two-deep depth chart.
“This is a team they’ve been grooming for quite some time,” Richt said.
Even Stafford, the true freshman who takes over for the injured Joe Tereshinski today, can see the dangers.
“They’ve got a ton of guys who could play in the SEC,” he said, “and I am sure they want to come out and show it.”
The only difference between teams like Georgia and teams like UAB is depth, Richt said.
“A lot of time some of the bigger BCS teams may win at the end after getting behind,” Richt said. “Those teams don’t have quite the reserve as some of us do. I think that’s the reason we ultimately win most of those games, but the bottom line is they are very, very capable of whipping us and we better get ready to play.”