CFN: Georgia vs. S. Carolina flew under the radar

The Bulldogs and the Gamecocks battled until the bitter end in game that had everything from a kick returned for a touchdown to 24 combined penalites. The SEC East slugfest was one to remember. The CFN writers share their insight on a thriller in Athens, Georgia.

Georgia vs. South Carolina deserved a better finish

I’m not sure what that was, but I liked it.

While the rest of the world was watching USC be just a little bit less mediocre than Ohio State, the SEC die-hards got to watch an all-timer of a shootout that wasn’t expected to be anything more than defensive slugfest between two SEC East also-rans. Had the powers-that-be known that this would’ve been a wild and wacky 41-37 shootout with big runs, big kicks, big defensive plays, big special teams plays, and big numbers, it wouldn’t have gotten the ESPN2 treatment that the U.S. Open is receiving and would’ve had a bigger stage.

It’s not like this was always pretty, the two teams combined for 24 penalties, but the two teams kept trading haymakers in an attempt to see who could knock out the other. The real shame is that South Carolina QB Stephen Garcia, who came up with a whale of a performance, ended the game with a misread and a misfire; this game should’ve ended on a Hail Mary, a pick six, the Stanford-Cal band play, something wild and crazy.

After this, the impossible job is to figure out how good each of these teams are. Do they have good enough offenses to have a puncher’s chance against Florida, or did the defenses take a week off after strong week ones? Is this the game that makes Garcia an SEC superstar? Where is the Georgia running game? Are the Dawgs going to get it together on both sides of the ball in time to be a true threat for the SEC title? After games like this, it’ll be worth finding out week after week whenever these two play.

— Pete Fiutak

Georgia is an enigma

You get the feeling, like I do, that Georgia is going to be tough to figure out all season? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

It’s going to be maddening getting a read on this team, which has already flashed multiple personalities in the first two games. In the opener, the Dawgs lacked an offensive pulse, yet showed grit and toughness on defense, losing to Oklahoma State, 24-10. This past weekend, however, you’d hardly recognize the program, ringing up 41 points on a nasty South Carolina D and getting a tremendous boost from the special teams unit. From QB Joe Cox to kick returner Brandon Boykin, there was a different spark coming form the Bulldogs, and not a moment too soon. Maybe it was the home crowd. Maybe it was the presence of Steve Spurrier on the opposite sideline. It really doesn’t matter. Georgia had to have this win over the Gamecocks because in the SEC, the difference between 1-1 and 2-0 is a whole lot more than just a single game.

— Richard Cirminiello

Two major points

First off, last year, it was Mike Davis fumbling near the Georgia goal line. This year, it’s Stephen Garcia not seeing his tailback in the left flat for a first down on the game’s defining play in the final minute. Gamecocks-Dawgs is usually a razor-close affair; even when Steve Spurrier gets a big-time performance from one of his signal callers, he can’t snare a huge win. Who would have thought this game would produce 79 points, and that another miscue in the kicking game would loom incredibly large?

Second, Joe Cox has been criticized. He’s had the flu. He’s lost nine pounds in recent days. He’s been playing through pain. He also gamed and competed at a very high level on a night when his defense wasn’t quite up to par. A young man showed more stuff than many observers thought; when a college kid rises above diminishing expectations, scholastic athletics reaches a sweet and satisfying high point. Cheers to Joe Cox for one manful, meaningful display Between the Hedges.

— Matt Zemek

Was this game played in Canada?

Everybody expected this one to be of the 3-2 variety, so imagine the surprise when a Canadian Football League game broke out. The Bulldogs seemed to have this one in hand in the fourth quarter, but they couldn’t hold back South Carolina, which banged on the door late but couldn’t cross the threshold. This was a huge win for Georgia, which couldn’t afford to slide to 0-2, especially with this one in Athens, and especially with last week’s conqueror having lost to Houston. Give both teams kudos for awakening dormant attacks, and Georgia should be happy that it was able to get an SEC win against the team that could well be its main competition for second in the East. As for the Ol’ Ball Coach, consider that he has built a winning team on defense the past couple years, so he had to be cheered somewhat by the emergence of a potent attack, but he can’t be happy with the late-game breakdown. Georgia gets a leg up in the SEC East, while South Carolina gets two weeks to get ready for a huge visit from Mississippi.

— Michael Bradley