For the bulk of the first half of Saturday's University of Georgia Bulldogs vs. Georgia Southern game, the outcome was in doubt, which was surprising, given the difference in quality between the two schools. The Bulldogs is a Top 5 team in the highest tier of college football, while Georgia Southern has a strong tradition in the second-tier Southern Conference.
Many of the people in the press box with me in Athens were a bit stunned, that is until Georgia scored a late second quarter touchdown and a few more in the third quarter to put the game away. The game was more important than anyone even knew at the time because of what would happen later that night.
The Fighting Irish also controls its football fate for the rest of the season. All it has to do is beat the University of Southern California Saturday night and it will punch its ticket into the title game.
How does Carvers Bay and Myrtle Beach high schools fit into the equation? Georgia defensive tackle Kwame Geathers is a Carvers Bay grad and Everett Golson of Myrtle Beach high is the starting quarterback for Notre Dame. Given their positions, each will play critical roles in the coming weeks for their teams.
Georgia Tech runs one of the most unique and most difficult to defend offenses in the country. It requires a lot of skill and athleticism to stop it, but also a ton of discipline along the defensive line - just where Geathers is a co-starter, according to what UGA's head coach Mark Richt told me Saturday. That's a good thing, but also one of the reasons Georgia Tech is a legitimate threat to Georgia's title hopes. Georgia had trouble in the first half with Georgia Southern's option offense, which is similar to Georgia Tech's. If that happens Saturday, it will be a long day for Georgia. While the Bulldogs should be favored and go into the SEC championship game against Alabama with a real shot to play for the national title, the game against Georgia Tech is no gimme.
And the same goes for Golson and Notre Dame this weekend. The USC Trojans are not as dominant as they were expected to be. They began the season as the No. 1 team in the country but have lost 4 games already, which is a ton in USCland. Still, they have an extremely potent offense with top-level NFL-ready talent that will test Notre Dame's top-level defense. It would not be a surprise to see them put up points against the Fighting Irish. (It will be easier to defend them if USC's quarterbacvk Matt Barkley doesn't play with his injured shoulder.) If that happens, the pressure would build on Golson and Notre Dame's offense to score more than it has consistently this season. Fortunately, Golson seems to be stepping out of some of his freshman ups-and-downs at just the right time. He had a strong game against an over-matched Wake Forest Saturday and put on display some of the skills we got so accustomed to seeing in Myrtle Beach.
This weekend is huge for Georgia and Notre Dame - and for the Carvers Bay-Georgetown area and Myrtle Beach fan bases.