|Curiously, the Dawgs and Huskers will be pitted |
in the postseason for the second year in a row.
As I watched the bowl matchups being revealed Sunday night, I couldn't help but to mull over a couple of things that remain to make little to no sense to me.
For one, why would Georgia be paired again with Nebraska for the second consecutive postseason?
I heard some reasoning why the Bulldogs "fell" to the Gator Bowl and how the Cornhuskers were positioned there, as well. However, I have always been under the impression that repeat bowl opponents are avoided at all costs unless bowl officials have no choice but to oppose the same two teams from the previous postseason, or the pairing is considered a rather alluring, must-see matchup.
Consider this, and, yes, I actually looked this up: Entering this season, nearly 1,200 bowl games had been played all time involving a major college or Division I-A/FBS team. There have been only 20 occurrences where the same two teams played one another in a bowl game in consecutive seasons—12 times they played in the exact same bowl game from the year before; 8 times in different bowls.
Nearly all of these repeat postseason matchups involve major bowl games, where because of national title or BCS implications, or conference champion and military academy tie ins, a repeat bowl matchup was nearly unavoidable. For example, Ohio State and USC had to face off three consecutive times in the Rose Bowl during the 1970s because each won their respective conference all three seasons.
I could only find two occurrences in the history of college football where two schools were opposed in consecutive non-major bowls seemingly, and simply put, just for the heck of it: Tennessee and Maryland played in the 1983 Citrus and then the 1984 Sun; South Carolina and Ohio State faced off in the Outback Bowl to cap both the 2000 and 2001 seasons.
Here's the thing: The second Tennessee-Maryland and South Carolina-Ohio State bowl games were much desired by the teams involved and their fan bases—highly-anticipated rematches where both games would presumably and quickly sell out.
As far as highly anticipated and undoubtedly a sell out for a second consecutive Georgia-Nebraska bowl game, I would think, not so much.
|Although Richt is 6-4 vs. Auburn the last decade,|
he is 0-3 in a category much more significant.
Lastly, and most head-scratching, how is it Auburn has now achieved THREE "championship seasons" in the last decade, whereas Georgia has produced NONE (where a championship season is defined as a campaign capped by playing for a national title or one where a team probably should have, like in 2004 when the Tigers finished their year 13-0)?
For what it's worth, being involved in little controversy while having the same head coach for 13 seasons, the UGA football program has been seemingly more "stable" than Auburn's. On the contrary, the Tigers have been involved in their fair share of scandal, while led by three different head coaches in just the last six seasons.
The UGA football program has recruited better than Auburn's. Using Phil Steele's annual national team recruiting rankings, which I prefer since they combine more than a dozen of the top recruiting services, including Rivals, Scout, Tom Lemming, etc., Georgia's recruiting had an average ranking of 10.9 in the entire nation from 2001 through 2013, or since Coach Richt's arrival. In comparison, the Tigers' average recruiting ranking over the same 13-year period was quite a bit lower at 21.5.
Above all, and although just slightly, the UGA football program has performed better than Auburn's on the field. In the last 10 seasons, the Bulldogs have a .723 overall winning percentage and have been bowl eligible every year. During the same period, the Tigers have a slightly lower winning percentage at .718 while twice missing out on the postseason because of losing regular seasons. Yet, Auburn has either played for a national championship or ended its season undefeated three times—one for each of its three head coaches—whereas Georgia's consolation the last decade has been a couple of championship near misses in 2007 and 2012.
What's the deal? Is it something substantial, like what we've all heard on occasion over the last decade—simply put, Coach Richt can't take Georgia to the "next level"? Or, is it something else; maybe it's mere dumb luck or coincidence as some say?
Regardless, come this bowl season, realize that the Bulldogs are making postseason history by being part of the first ever bowl matchup that makes absolutely no sense at all. At the same time, a program that has been seemingly inferior the last decade curiously enjoys its third championship season, to Georgia's none. Some regard this as the Bulldogs continuing to get "bad breaks," or simply a coincidence.
Personally, and although I remain trying to make sense of it all, I tend to believe that a coincidence results from the unusual occurring twice, while once is mere chance or happenstance, but three times is, well, something much more significant than the outcomes of once and twice.