Columbia a challange for Dawgs

ATHENS – What is it about playing in Columbia that is so difficult for Georgia?

Is it South Carolina's fans?

Is it the humidity and heat in Columbia?

Is it the Gamecocks?

Is it all of those things and more?

Georgia has struggled against South Carolina in Columbia for decades. Although Georgia has a winning record at Williams-Brice Stadium, they never seem to blow the Gamecocks out. The Bulldogs' last double digit win in Columbia was in 1998, but that game was a fight into the fourth quarter.

"Good" Georgia teams, like the 2002 SEC Championship team, seem to struggle against Carolina no matter how well the rest of their season goes. That year Georgia came yards from losing to South Carolina in Columbia.

And "bad" Georgia teams, like ones that end up with losing records (1996) or ones that are way too over-hyped (2000) can't even hold on to the ball in Columbia.

"It's very tough to play in Columbia," said Georgia quarterback David Greene. Greene was on the 2002 team that won 13-7. "I don't know if it's because the stands are right on top of you or what. The front row is right on top of you. Their fans are only 10 yards away from you when you get near the end zone. It gets so loud."

"We struggled the last time we were there," said Georgia Head Coach Mark Richt. "They have tremendous fan support and an extremely loud stadium. Also, we play them early. Everyone is fresh and excited, and you are usually unbeaten before that game."

Now that the Southeastern Conference's Eastern Division is no longer dominated by Florida and Tennessee exclusively, Richt says the early season matchup between the Gamecocks and Bulldogs can be a good indicator of the season to come for both teams.

"When South Carolina won those two games (in 2000 and 2001), they really had good seasons. And then the years we won, the last two seasons, we've had pretty good seasons," he said.

But while the Bulldogs might have the advantage on paper, one thing is clear: Carolina will have one big advantage on Saturday: Williams-Brice Stadium.

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