Photo: UGA and I will have this facial expression all week and until the final seconds of the SEC Championship on Saturday. It’s our cautiously optimistic face.
For those of you who are into “thoughts and prayers” as a preferred alternative to actions and solutions, some folks like me could use your thoughts and prayers over the next few days.
And by “folks like me,” I mean fans of the University of Georgia Bulldogs, who will face some team called the Roll Crimson Tide Elephants of the University of Alabama on Saturday in the SEC Championship Game — or as folks Down South refer to it, the Actual National Championship Game. That will be followed by a couple of a exhibition games called the College Football Playoff Series and then a trophy presentation.
You’d think that we Georgia Bulldog fans would be whooping and hollering about being the best team in the land pretty much the entire year and how as the No. 1 team in the nation we’re gonna easily roll the Tidal Elephants right out of Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Saturday. But no.
I’ve fallen into that trap of optimism before. The last six times we’ve played Alabama, I’ve felt pretty good about the game going into it. Afterward, um, not so much.
Those six straight Georgia losses to Alabama include an overtime loss in the National Championship in January of 2018 (in which Alabama backup quarterback Tua Tagovailoa replaced starter Jalen Hurts to lead the comeback win) and a loss in the SEC Championship 11 months later (in which backup quarterback Jalen Hurts replaced starter Tua Tagovailoa to lead the comeback win). That just ain’t right.
Both of those heartbreaking losses happened in Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium. This game Saturday also will be in Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Based on that luck, I’m OK with moving it to a different city altogether, like Columbus. Did you know that the very first meeting between the Dawgs and Rolling Elephants was in Columbus in 1895? The good guys (Georgia) won 30-6. Throw in the only other Columbus meeting in 1912, and Georgia is 2-0 versus the Crimson Pachyderms in the Fountain City.
WHY IN THE WORLD DO WE PLAY THEM ANYWHERE ELSE?!
I just hope Georgia doesn’t jump out to yet another promising lead only to see some backup quarterback come on in the second half to ruin everything yet again. I don’t even know who the Rolling Sabans’ backup is this year, but if some kid named Tua Hurts or Jalen Tagovailoa comes on in the third quarter, I’m going to have a heart attack.
The last time I was optimistic that Georgia would beat Alabama was in 2015. This game was going to be the turning point for Georgia football. We just knew it.
I’d been in Shreveport, Louisiana, all week and left early that Saturday morning so that I could get home in time to relax with a cold beer in front of the game and yell ugly things at the Crimson Nicks as we gave them what-for. My puddle-jumper from Shreveport to Dallas, though, decided to do a U-turn on the tarmac all because it wanted brakes that, you know, stopped and stuff. I protested, but they thought brakes would make it easier to land the plane in Dallas. Chicken pilots.
So, I was stuck in Shreveport for a couple more hours and only got to Dallas just in time to see my scheduled flight pull away from the gate. I told my wife to record the game, and I avoided every TV at the airport as well as my phone so that I wouldn’t see the score while I failed to get on the next two flights home.
Sure enough, by the time I finally got home and grabbed a cold one and plopped down on the couch, my wife asked: “Are you sure you want to watch the game?”
“Are you real sure?”
“Do you know what kind of day I’ve had?! Of course, I wanna watch the game!”
“Um, you don’t want to watch the game.” I knew what that meant. She’d peeked and seen the score. It didn’t go so well. I needed something stronger than a beer.
And I might again this Saturday. Going against the Rolling Crimson Nicks is never easy for the Dawgs. But with every new meeting, there’s fresh hope, right? Meanwhile, the next few days are going to be a mix of cautious optimism and feelings of dread. So, please, send your thoughts and prayers. I’m gonna need ’em.
And, if you’re an Alabama fan, by all means, please keep your starting quarterback on the field this time. We can’t handle another backup heartbreaker.