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Post Giving the 2009 win at Arkansas its due

Wednesday June 30, 2010

Even with an 8-5 record, there were several bright spots in the 2009 football season – the win in Atlanta chief among them.

One game that has never quite gotten its due is the win over Arkansas in Fayetteville. I know that it seemed dodgy. You had Cox playing out of his mind and standing toe-to-toe in a shootout. You had Richard Samuel hit the hole and have his one shining moment at tailback. It’s not that you wondered how Georgia got out of there with the win; you saw the offense score at will. It was just so unexpected and, as it turned out, oh so necessary. It’s not that Georgia beat an SEC contender, but the 2009 Dawgs lost games against lesser teams. In retrospect, the win seems even more improbable because Georgia had to overcome two huge factors that usually meant success for the 2009 Razorbacks:

  • The game was Arkansas’ only home loss of the season. The Razorbacks have won just a single road SEC game under Petrino – a close 25-22 win in 2008 against an Auburn team circling the drain. But they were much better at home last season and ended up routing South Carolina, Mississippi State, and Auburn in Fayetteville.
  • The game was Arkansas’ only loss in which Ryan Mallett completed over 50% of his passes. Mallett of course had a ridiculous day against Georgia with 21-of-39 passing (53.8%), 408 yards, and 5 touchdowns. As TSK notes, “Arkansas was 7-1 in games in which Mallett completed more than 50 percent of his passes.”

Arkansas’ trip to Athens in 2010 is going to be a popular upset pick – if Arkansas isn’t outright favored. The Hogs will be 2-0 after a pair of cupcakes. Mallett’s likely to be ultra-accurate and put up huge numbers in those wins. The Bulldog defense might or might not be better than the unit that gave up 41 a year ago, but they’ll still be in their first few games under a new system and going up against an extremely talented passer. Georgia will have been tested on the road at Columbia, and it will be Arkansas’ first road game of the year. A win over Georgia would certainly be a win that legitimizes the preseason hype poured on Arkansas this year, but will they have learned how to win big games on the road, and is their defense going to be any better against a Georgia offense that will be plenty loaded itself?

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