Expectations often blind fans

ATHENS – For the third time in three seasons Georgia suffered a devastating late season loss. There will be no national title this season, nor likely a SEC title. Where do the Bulldogs go from here?

It is hard to recover from a beating the likes Auburn gave the Bulldogs Saturday. Georgia was outplayed by a better team. The Tigers had a better offense and without question had a better defense Saturday. The loss was only the third time in four years the Bulldogs lost a game decisively. The last two times that happened (last year's SEC title game and a 2001 loss to Florida) the Bulldogs were forced to readjust their goals for the year. That is where Georgia is right now – readjusting expectations.

In 2001 expectations were not as high as they have been of late. Florida was still a dominate program, and the Bulldogs were under a new head coach. Against LSU last season it was not clear until the Tigers' blowout win over Georgia that LSU was the better team.

Now, Georgia must revaluate its situation in the hierarchy of college football and SEC. Georgia has won more games than any program in the SEC since 1999. Mighty programs like Alabama and Florida have been through several coaches. They have won SEC titles and had disastrous seasons. But in Athens the Bulldogs have been steady.

Georgia too has won an SEC title, but has not had the extreme up and downs that the Gators and Tide have had. Instead, the Bulldogs are a national power now. They have posted 11-win seasons each of the last two years. They have finished in the top six of the final national polls in the past two seasons. This year will likely be no different, but a Top 10 finish was not quite good enough for some this year, and that's a jaded viewpoint.

College football programs have ups and downs. Georgia is at a near all-time up right now. There are two ways of approaching that fact. 1. You have to get as many wins and championships as possible during the up times. 2. You need to enjoy it while on top.

Georgia is no longer threatened by the likes of South Carolina (at least until the Death Visor arrives). Georgia Tech, a team that owned Georgia at the turn of the century, could not be farther from beating Georgia. Georgia owns a winning record over mighty Tennessee and just swept Alabama in 2002 and 2003. Only national championship caliber teams seem to up end the Dawgs now (save Tennessee this season and Florida last).

The stakes have been raised and the Bulldogs are now fighting against Oklahoma, Southern Cal, and other perennial national powers. Georgia is fighting for that elusive national title which has escaped them, somehow, the last three years. Bulldog supporters want it bad, but they are going to have to wait one more season, or maybe more, to get what they want.

Georgia fans can learn an important lesson from their friends at Auburn: Just because it's "your" year, that doesn't mean it will "actually" be your year.

In the meantime, Georgia will likely piddle around to another 10-win season. They will likely again thrash their in-state rivals. And they will likely against win up in a New Year's Day bowl which might just lead to a third consecutive top 10 finish. It's not perfect, but it's not that bad either.


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