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Post The kind of game you’ll tell your kids about

Tuesday November 13, 2007

There are a handful of games in Sanford Stadium history that are remembered as much for the scene as they are for the outcome. Alabama 1976. Clemson 1991. Someone with a stronger Bulldog pedigree than mine can probably add a few others. We can add Auburn 2007 to that distinguished list. In 25 years, you’ll be able to mention "Auburn" and "blackout" and instantly connect with any Bulldog fan from this era.

So many of us spent last week fretting about the blackout. "Great idea, but…" But it makes us look Gamecock-ish. But there’s no way that you can get word out. But our fans think we’re above gimmicks. But blackouts always fail.

I’ll admit to being skeptical that we’d be able to pull it off. There was great effort to get the word out, fans loosened up and cooperated, and it was an incredible scene to walk into the stadium and see not 40% or 60% but nearly every Georgia fan participating. The black was so extensive that a friend remarked that one could go back through the tape and easily pinpoint which Dawg fans had sold out their tickets to orange-clad Plainsmen.

The scene when the team came out was pandemonium. Dannell Ellerbe remarked that receiving the uniforms was like a Christmas present, and several players raced as far as the west stands to show off their new toys. Meanwhile, Brandon Coutu and the other captains gave new meaning to the term "taking off the red shirt" as they shed the red decoys just before kickoff.

But the black and the emotion only carried the team so far. It was, after all, a gimmick. Auburn is a quality team, they had turned their season around, and we knew that they wouldn’t take a punch without hitting back. Down 20-17 the crowd was growing nervous and impatient, and precious little was happening against the Auburn defense. Matthew Stafford was limping. Auburn had just taken the lead. It was looking much less like the Auburn game of a year ago and much more like the 2006 Tennessee game where the Vols withstood a first half punch to come back and dominate the second half.

Georgia needed to answer before the momentum swing became out of hand, and Mark Richt took a page out of the playbook that beat LSU in 2004. In that game, Georgia’s senior receiver tandem of Reggie Brown and Fred Gibson caught several big pass plays along the sideline to lead the Dawgs to a win. Against Auburn, Richt again called for a senior receiver to make a play down the field at a key moment in the game, and Sean Bailey’s 45-yard catch was the spark that turned the game around for good. Knowshon Moreno finished off the drive, and Georgia had answered Auburn’s challenge and wouldn’t look back.

Everyone now is asking the logical question, "after the masterful job of motivating the team for Florida and Auburn, how in the world do we approach the Kentucky game?" Nearly a month ago as we were leaving Vanderbilt Stadium by the skin of our teeth, Kentucky was back on top after beating LSU. Kentucky looked like the end of a three-game Murderer’s Row to end the SEC slate. Now after losses to Florida and Mississippi State, we’re talking about the Cats as a "trap game." With some key players healthy after a bye week and a win over Vanderbilt, Kentucky is just as dangerous as they were a month ago.

I’m not going to put on my Lou Holtz hat here, but I imagine that motivation this week takes two very basic forms. One…it’s a simple revenge game. The Cats beat us in Lexington last year, tore down the goalposts, and brought us to the low point of the 2006 season. From the turnovers on offense to Kentucky’s game-winning march against the defense, every returning player should be in a foul mood about that game. The second theme is all about possibilities. The Dawgs didn’t turn come this far and beat Auburn and Florida for it to stop now. With an SEC title and BCS bid still very much in the picture, now is no time to relent. All that plus a healthy dose of respect for Kentucky should have the team more than prepared.

4 Responses to 'The kind of game you’ll tell your kids about'

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  • It was the most fun I’ve had since 51-7.

  • Reminded me of the surreal 2000 Tennessee game when the goalposts came down. Just something different about the whole game. Great, great night in Sanford. Agree with Toon…. a lot of healing was going on Saturday night.

  • There may have been a game or two in the past where crowd noise surpassed this weekend, but none with that level of passion from the fans as a whole.

    Someone said earlier that this was the first time a game in Sanford felt like being at a huge road game. That was hitting the nail on the head. Those who have been to big wins on the road will understand what that means.

    One thing is for certain….anytime I hear “Back in Black” the images of that night will become clear again. Someone obviously had time to plan that out, and it worked perfectly.

  • The road game comment is right on. It did feel like 92,000 Road Dawgs in there.