What's Past, is Prologue, they say.
A generational football unit destroying anything and everything in its path, meets another traditional power whose own accomplishments have been tarnished somewhat by slips and stumbles, but is still respected. Many Johnny-come latelies can't help but gush with overwhelming exuberance about the King of the landscape, but there are a few out there who've studied the teams, who have done their research, who understand the intangibles, and who aren't afraid to utter the word "upset" in dark corners of booster parties.
This is the David V Goliath story - the plucky upstart looking to defy all odds and defeat the tyrannical rule of the anointed. It's something I've seen before. It's a hope to which I've fallen victim.
I remember well, going into the 2019 SEC Title Game, having a great deal of excitement for a UGA squad who had held opponents to under 11 points per game. They were great. They were seemingly unflappable. They couldn't be denied, assuredly. They had defeated 3 ranked teams. No opposing team had crossed the goal-line three times. They had 3 shutouts. That defense was STOUT. Sure, they had found a way to lose to a South Carolina team playing above its own heads, but that was not of great concern. It was the OFFENSE's issue on that day, anyway. Had the offense taken care of business, that would have been a win.
Lining up across the field from that D (one that was better than most UGA had trotted out in a while), was an LSU offense that was lighting up the SEC West. They scored, and they scored in bunches. But, they hadn't faced a Defense the likes of which they'd be seeing that night. And of course, they had a defense which was serviceable... but gave up a lot of points in its own right. Most folks were predicting an LSU victory, but those who forecasted an upset could see a world where UGA, able to get more pressure on Burrow than other teams, and able to play balls in the air better than other teams, would make the necessary stops and then hand the keys to Fromm and company, and the underrated 33ppg offense would come out ahead.
Of course, those folks were wrong.
Those folks were very, very wrong.
The UGA offense which had been flying under the radar was flying under the radar for a reason - they didn't have the weapons that would be necessary to consistently put pressure on a serviceable LSU defense. Add to that the fact that UGA's primary weapon for blowing the top off a defense was in street clothes in the first half due to a maturity lapse a week prior, and you had a recipe for disaster.
UGA couldn't move the ball consistently in Q1, as pass after pass fell incomplete... and LSU had little issue running its highly efficient offense against our Defense which, quite honestly, had not see anything like the talent it currently faced. UGA fell behind 14-0 at the end of the first quarter, then played the 2nd quarter to a 3-3 tie. Some, including myself, thought the game was still in reach. Things would most certainly improve as Pickens came into the game, and we would right the ship as our defense had now weathered the storm.
But we hit Pickens on only 1/3 targets on his first drive... and missed a field goal. LSU added a TD 4 plays later. Then we threw an interception. The wheels had officially come the hell off.
All season long, UGA had been a very good football team. They had been battle tested, and come out ahead in all but one instance - against a plucky squad playing out of its mind on a day when UGA didn't show up its best. They had crushed the directional schools, and won some close SEC matchups they maybe shouldn't have. But they were the one team that could give LSU fits, or so was some of the chatter out there. And LSU, well... LSU hadn't really suffered. They hadn't been tested. They would surely wilt under the strength of the team that had been playing for titles in recent years, and therefore would be more prepared to handle the immense pressure of the day.
Only, they didn't.
They didn't, because they had a truly transcendent unit. They had the best unit in all of college of football, and it wasn't close.
Many of us wanted to ignore what we saw, and believe in what we envisioned. We wanted to give them the "but they haven't played nobody" tag. We wanted to think "Oh, it's gonna be different WITH US"
But it wasn't.
And on Saturday, that's what Bama faces. So many out there are preaching the intangibles, the mystique, the "But UGA hasn't seen anything like this" and the "Bama has been tested, and UGA hasn't"... as Bama limps into the SECCG missing one of their primary weapons (or at least, with him severely hampered), a beat up and maligned OL, and a Defense that, while being "pretty damn good"... has given up a buuuuuuunch of points to teams with less functional offenses than UGA's (UGA P5 Scoring: 9th, TN: 18, MISS: 25, ARK 45). Many want us to ignore what our eyes have watched for 12 games thus far. They want us to believe that the best unit in football suddenly won't be, and that a very good team who has suffered some hardships will overcome all of that, to pull the upset.
But like I said, I've seen this before.