Jacksonville, Fla. — Did I see this one coming? Obviously not. I didn’t think there was a way in the world a pretty bad Florida team could dominate a pretty good Georgia one. But seeing was believing, even if it really wasn’t.
I know what happened — the Gators rushed for 418 yards, fifth-most in school history and the second-worst in Georgia annals — against a opponent that entered with the SEC’s second-best rushing defense. I’m just not sure how it happened, or why. Neither was Georgia defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt, who spoke in more ephemeral terms: “Sometimes it’s about getting off a block. It’s about who you are and what you’ve got in you.”
Put simply, Georgia got bullied by a lesser opponent. (When last seen, these Gators lost 42-13 in Gainesville to Missouri, which Georgia had beaten 34-0 in Columbia.) It shouldn’t have happened, but it did. And when something like this happens — and it happens more than occasionally to Georgia — we have to ask: Is this a reflection on Mark Richt?
The answer: Yes. He’s the coach. It’s his program, his players. For all the good Richt has done since coming to Athens, his teams have lost enough of these inexplicable games to keep them from playing for a national title, and surely this 38-20 loss, coupled with the 38-35 defeat at South Carolina on Sept. 15, will deal them out of the College Football Playoff even if they up and win the SEC.
Maybe it was too much to ask of Georgia, playing without Todd Gurley for four games and with a halting quarterback in Hutson Mason, to win it all, but the road was paved for them to give it a go. Instead they lost to one of the worst Florida teams of the past 35 years, and they didn’t just lose — they were routed. Holy mackerel.
Further reading: The Richt-getting-outcoached — by Will Muschamp, for crying out loud — theme is examined at greater length in this post for myajc.