Sur•viv•al (ser-vahy-vuhl, noun, 1. the act or fact of surviving, esp. under adverse or unusual circumstances.
This was the operative word for No. 2 Georgia on Saturday.
The Bulldogs opened SEC play by traveling to hostile Williams-Brice Stadium for a game against Steve Spurrier's Gamecocks. After trailing 7-6 at the half, Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno led the Bulldogs on a third-quarter touchdown drive (accompanied by a successful two-point conversion). Midway through the fourth quarter, South Carolina drove the ball to the Georgia two-yard line, but Dawgs LB Rennie Curran caused a Mike Davis fumble and UGA recovered in the endzone. The Gamecocks drove to the Georgia 17 in the final minute, but UGA's Reshad Jones preserved the 14-7 win with an interception.
Yes, the Bulldogs' effort today certainly fit the dictionary definition of "survival" -- at least the first part. These circumstances were most definitely "adverse." Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, they were far from "unusual." Not when it comes to Georgia's 2008 schedule. Just take a quick look at what awaits the Bulldogs in the coming months:
• Sept. 20, at Arizona State
• Sept. 27, vs. Alabama
• Oct. 11, vs. Tennessee
• Oct. 18, vs. Vanderbilt
• Oct. 25, at LSU
• Nov. 1, vs. Florida (Jacksonville)
• Nov. 8, at Kentucky
• Nov. 15, at Auburn
• Nov. 29, vs. Georgia Tech
This is why it's impossible to truly believe the Bulldogs will escape the regular season without at least one blemish. There just isn't a single gimme on the schedule (remember, Vandy and Kentucky both entered today at 2-0).
And with the way Georgia's offense sputtered today, the Dawgs leave little room for error. Not to take anything away from the South Carolina defense, which looked very imposing all day long, but this was undoubtedly a lackluster effort by the team that began the year atop the Associated Press poll. The Gamecocks outgained Georgia in total offense, 289-252. Moreno really had to work for his 79 yards and one touchdown on the ground. And Stafford's day (15-for-25, 146 yards, 0 TD) was not quite what you'd expect from a player being touted as a potential top-10 pick in next year's NFL draft. Of course, a big part of the problem for Moreno and Stafford is the inexperienced offensive line, which struggled to create many running lanes and allowed four sacks today.
Now, in today's college football climate, it no longer seems necessary for a national-title contender to go undefeated in the regular season. (Last season's BCS champ, LSU, lost a pair of games.) But taking what we saw today and applying it to the remaining schedule, the Dawgs' title-game aspirations look pretty bleak at the moment.
After all, survival can only last so long ...