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Dawgs Opener Not the Norm

Considering the caliber of opponent that the Georgia Bulldogs have started their season with for the last half decade, playing Clemson in the season opener seems like jumping into a hornet's nest.

Arkansas State, Utah State, Furman, The Citadel, and Kent State are not exactly college football powers. Georgia and Clemson have made a policy of playing patsies in season openers.

That is not the case this season.

For the first time since the game know dubbed "the night the lights went out in Georgia" in 1982, Georgia will play Clemson in their opening game. And the Georgia players have been thinking a lot about the season opening game against the Tigers.

"We've been working hard all summer long getting ready for the season. Clemson will be a good test to see where we stand. Every player on the team has to step up (against Clemson)" said Georgia defensive back Decory Bryant of the Clemson game.

Bryant will most certainly have to "step up" in the game if Georgia has any hope of slowing down the powerful Clemson offensive attack.

The Tigers ranked third in the ACC in total offense with 421 yards per game. Meanwhile, Georgia's pass defense ranked ninth in the SEC, holding teams to 252 yards a game. The passing game is a major part of Clemson's offensive attack. Still, many in the media see Clemson as the underdog in this game. But Georgia linebacker Tony Gilbert refutes that assumption.

"Clemson is a great team. They have a lot of great athletes. We're not looking past them at all."

History shows that Georgia has an advantage in season openers between the two teams. Since 1897, the first game between the two schools, Clemson and Georgia have played against one another in season openers seven times, with Georgia winning all but two of the games.

Clemson and Georgia last faced one another in 1995, with the Dawgs winning in Death Valley 19-17. Georgia offensive tackle Jon Stinchcomb, watching his older brother Matt play, remembers watching the game from the stands and the atmosphere in Clemson that night. He says that he is looking forward to playing in that environment once again.

"I am excited about playing Clemson again. To be the best you have got to beat the best. I have seen the atmosphere. It is a welcomed rivalry. It is not like we scheduled a cupcake to start the season."

Dean Legge can be reached here: dean@dawgpost.com

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