January 3rd, 2012 09:41 AM║ Posted By: John Pennington ║ Permalink
║ Schools: Georgia
Tags: Georgia, Michigan State, Outback Bowl, UGA
Oh, what a missed field goal can bring.
Georgia’s fans watched in horror yesterday as the Bulldogs coaching staff went conservative with a 27-20 lead late in the Outback Bowl. Mark Richt had been on the attack all season long with fourth-down gambles and Aaron Murray deep balls. But with the game on the line, UGA’s braintrust puckered. The offense went conservative. The defense went into a prevent zone that allowed Michigan State to march 85 yards in less than two minutes. Tie game. 27-27. Overtime.
But in overtime, Georgia caught a break, picking off its third pass of the day from Spartan quarterback Kirk Cousins on MSU’s first possession. Remarkably, the Dawgs went conservative again. They appeared to be fine and dandy with a 42-yard field goal attempt from inconsistent kicker Blair Walsh. Bad move. He missed.
Overtime continued and you know the rest of the story — Michigan State 33, Georgia 30.
And everything has now changed in the Peach State as a result of that missed potential game-winner.
Up 16-0 at the half on a Top 5 defense, most Georgia fans were saying things like this: “You know, 11 wins this year, easy schedule next year, I really think we’re sitting pretty when it comes to winning the national title!”
After the loss — at least on the UGA messageboards — the talk changed to this: “You know, we didn’t beat a good team all season. 10 wins against teams we should beat and then another bowl choke. Nothing’s changed.”
A bowl loss is the worse thing in the world. Instead of an offseason of positive dreaming, negative grumbling fills the airwaves. Richt will get his contract extension from Georgia… as he should.
But if the coach’s status were left to fans — after yesterday’s loss — Richt’s seat really wouldn’t be all that much cooler entering 2012. Especially with the Dawgs’ much-maligned schedule.
His conservatism and a missed field goal will have a lot of Georgians saying that Richt had better win big next season. Or else many folks will be right back calling for his head.
There’s nothing like the mood swing after a bowl loss.
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