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September 12, 2014

The Columbia Curse Abounds

Not since Zeier lit up the 'Cocks 20 years ago
has a UGA offense been potent in Columbia. Of
course, the Dogs are not alone regarding
offensive struggles in the Soda City.  
It has been said South Carolina football, along with the rest of the school's athletic teams, have been stricken with the Chicken Curse, afflicting mediocrity on all Gamecock teams and their athletes. However, the curse has been alleviated to some degree following baseball national championships in 2010 and 2011, and Spurrier's 'Cocks capturing the SEC East in 2010 followed by three consecutive 11-win seasons.

Still, there is a curse which prevails in the city of Columbia, although this particular misfortune has impaired our very own Georgia Bulldogs--the Columbia Curse.

The Columbia Curse has been widely accepted, especially leading up to this week's game at Williams-Brice Stadium. Even Coach Richt is fully aware of the burden: "To think that the last nine times, the most amount of points was 20," said Richt at his recent Tuesday press conference. "I knew what it had been for us when I’ve been at Georgia, but I didn’t realize it went back that far."

In short, the Bulldogs have endured the Columbia Curse by exhibiting a rather stagnant offense, hardly able to put points on the scoreboard, following the teams' meeting in Columbia in 1994.  Beginning in 1996, when then-first-year head coach Jim Donnan lost at South Carolina, 23 to 14, Georgia has failed to score more than 20 points against the 'Cocks on the road in nine consecutive trips.  What makes the Bulldogs' ineptness on offense even more puzzling is that they scored more than 20 points in 7 of the 11 games in Columbia prior to 1996.

To put Georgia's inefficiency on offense at South Carolina in perspective, the following are the per-game averages of points, total yards, offensive plays, offensive touchdowns, turnovers committed, and field goals made by the Bulldogs in Columbia, in which Georgia has won 5 of 9 meetings since 1994, and in Athens, resulting in 7 wins in 10 games during the same time period:

Georgia vs. SC (1995-2013)   at Columbia   at Athens 
Points                                             13.2          29.0
Yards                                            299.9        396.3
Plays                                              62.0          69.6
Off. TDs                                           1.1            3.1
TOs lost                                           2.4            1.5
FGs made                                         1.4            1.7

In a word--extraordinary.  Ever since Eric Zeier put on a passing clinic at South Carolina in 1994, throwing for 485 yards and three touchdowns, in a 24-21 Georgia victory, the curse has been alive and well, comparatively speaking. Playing the Gamecocks in Athens compared to at Columbia over the last two decades, Georgia has averaged more than twice the number of points, nearly 100 more yards, two more offensive touchdowns per game, and has committed about one less turnover.

For tomorrow, here's to a return to 20 years ago, when Georgia's offense was potent in Columbia, beginning as early as the game's second play:   

So, what's the problem--why has the Bulldogs' offense struggled so when facing the Gamecocks at their place?  No one seems to know--not even the head Bulldog of them all: "I don't know," Richt repeated three times when asked what made the South Carolina game in Columbia so difficult in the past. "Just a great atmosphere, great defense and Georgia not getting it done," he speculated.

Yet, as I watched the '94 Georgia-South Carolina, longing for a return to when we seemingly moved the ball at will against the Gamecocks at Williams-Brice, I soon recalled some of the home team's recent offensive performances as the Bulldogs were struggling.

The following is the same as above, but South Carolina's per-game averages in Columbia and in Athens against Georgia after 1994:

SC vs. Georgia vs. (1995-2013)   at Columbia   at Athens 
Points                                                 14.3          21.1
Yards                                                305.4        345.2
Plays                                                  63.0          69.0
Off. TDs                                               1.7            2.1
TOs lost                                               1.7            1.7
FGs made                                             0.2            1.4

Although not quite the difference as in Georgia's offensive production, the Gamecock offense has performed notably better against the Bulldogs in Athens than in their own stadium: a touchdown better per game, gaining 40 more yards, while committing the same number of turnovers per contest at home than away. 

So, what would be the reason for South Carolina's curious drop off on offense at home against Georgia?  Personally, and like Coach Richt said, I don't know. Maybe its the great atmosphere, a great [Georgia] defense, and South Carolina not getting it done, as well.

One thing is evident: although Georgia has been afflicted by the Columbia Curse for a long time now, it appears the same curse has been plaguing the team impaired by the Chicken Curse before--the other team in the rivalry... cursed in its very own backyard.

1 comment:

Mark B said...

EZ10--you were (and are) a great DAWG! Always wished he could have been on a well-rounded UGA team for more than just one season ('92). We'd have torn it up.