“I just want to... this makes me want to work even harder than anything I have ever worked at. It makes me want to work so hard right now,” Gurley said after the disappointment of the first loss of the season.
The first loss of any season brings out the realities of college football - particularly in the SEC. Namely its that if you play football in this conference you are going to lose. That Georgia was the better team (it seemed amazingly clear to me), but didn’t win is an issue - although not one unique to Georgia.
The last undefeated team in the SEC? 2010 Auburn. How many have finished the season undefeated in conference play in the last ten seasons? Five. The SEC won seven consecutive national titles, but managed only five teams who finish undefeated conference play (meaning 8-0 before the SEC Championship).
That shows just how difficult this league is. And that’s the shame in Georgia’s upset loss to South Carolina - it was an upset. The better team didn’t win. And though victory has 1,000 fathers; defeat, at least when Georgia plays, is still an orphan. An orphan that had the ball at the four-yard line ready to send South Carolina back to being what South Carolina is.
Instead, Georgia did what Georgia does now in Columbia… they lost.
The SEC East looks like a disaster right now. Florida, which needed overtime and an assist from SEC officials to beat Kentucky, is in first place at 1-0. Two teams (Missouri and Tennessee) haven’t played SEC games yet. And more than half of the division already has its first conference loss of the season, and it is the midpoint of September.
You don’t win or lose the season in September. Both Georgia’s thrashing of Clemson, and the Cocks’ debacle against Texas A&M seem like years ago now. So what will November feel like seven weeks from today? Will Georgia arrive in Jacksonville to play the Gators with only a loss, and everything to play for?
That’s happened before, and not that long ago.
Will this Georgia team understand the chance that is still in front of them, or let the upset beat them on down the road? In other words will this 2014 learn from its own mistakes? That’s the thing to watch.
Todd Gurley is right. Georgia’s work is not done… not even close to being done.