Georgia and Florida, both undefeated and ranked in the top ten, are underdogs at home to conference foes who have a loss – strange.
It’s rare that the Bulldogs are underdogs – nevertheless underdogs at home. The last time Georgia was an underdog in its own stadium was the second game of Mark Richt’s career. In 2001, #21-ranked South Carolina was a two-point favorite over the Bulldogs. The Gamecocks won that game 14-9. It was the last time in 2001 Georgia lost a game it was not favored in.
Several players, however, said they enjoy the underdog role.
“I like it,” senior safety Tra Battle said. “I hope we get that a little more often.”
That’s not likely. The Bulldogs have only been underdogs 15 times since 2001, and only seven times in the last four seasons (’06 Tennessee, +2.5; ’05 Tennessee, +3; ’05 Florida, +4, ’05 LSU, +1; ’04 Auburn, +3; ’03 LSU, +1; and ’03 LSU (SEC), +3).
Joe Tereshinski, like many of the Bulldogs, understands why Georgia is not favored in this week’s contest.
“Seeing that we are underdogs is not surprising to me,” Tereshinski said. “We’ve struggled a little bit, and Tennessee is high rolling. At the same time hopefully that will give us some drive.”
Of course, the term “underdog” is determined by which team is not favored according to betting lines in Las Vegas, where betting on sports is legal. The NCAA frowns on college sports betting, particularly by boosters of college schools. But the mindset of being an “underdog” comes from expectations of fans and the media. And right now those expectations are low for the Bulldogs.
“Most of the time being the underdog gives you something to fight for. I think we play harder when we are underdogs,” Battle continued.
Battle might be right – several of Georgia’s biggest wins in the Mark Richt era have come with the Dawgs as official underdogs: 2001 Tennessee; 2001 Georgia Tech; 2002 Alabama; 2005 Tennessee; and 2005 LSU.
“When you are the underdog you feel like you have something to prove,” Battle added.
The Bulldogs have just that Saturday night.