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Consistency is Key for Dawgs

By Matt Osborne
SouthernPigskin.com
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Of all of the teams which play in a Power Five conference, only Ohio State had a better record than Georgia in games against teams that finished the 2014 season ranked in the top 25.

For most college football teams, the difference between being a good team and being a great team is found in the ability to beat elite competition.

Winning games against Winning games against the “cupcakes” of the world is always nice, but it usually comes down to how well you can perform when going up against teams of a higher caliber.

Interestingly enough, though, the Georgia Bulldogs were the exception to that rule in 2014.

Of all of the teams which play in a Power Five conference, only Ohio State had a better record than Georgia in games against teams that finished the year ranked in the top 25. The Bulldogs, displaying tremendous effort and focus against the nation’s elite teams, won four of the five contests they played against opponents ranked in the final poll.

Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, it was not the games against the country’s best teams which were their undoing. Rather, it was the contests against the teams which Georgia should have, on paper, been able to beat with relative ease.

While South Carolina was ranked No. 24 in the country at the time the two sides played, the Gamecocks were just a couple of weeks from a 52-28 trouncing at the hands of Texas A&M when the Bulldogs came to town on September 13. By the end of the regular season, it had also become significantly clear that South Carolina was not one of the top 25 teams in the country.

Even so, the Bulldogs, ranked No. 6 heading into the contest, struggled all afternoon to stop the South Carolina offense. The offense was able to move the football and score points the majority of the contest, but a couple of crucial mistakes late in the game ultimately led to a 38-35 Gamecock victory.

Less than two months later, against the rival Florida Gators in Jacksonville, Georgia once again forgot to show up ready to play.

An overwhelming favorite heading into the showdown at Everbank Field, Georgia gave up a staggering 418 yards rushing to a Florida offense which finished the year ranked 12th in the conference in total offense. The offense, meanwhile, didn’t really all do that much to help the cause either.

The Bulldogs’ lone loss against a team which finished ranked inside of the top 25 in 2014 came in overtime against Georgia Tech in the final game of the regular season. While the game itself was an evenly-matched tilt, it was a game which the Bulldogs also could have easily won if it weren’t for a series of poor mistakes.

Had the Bulldogs been able to take care of business against Florida and South Carolina, at the very least, Georgia would have found itself playing in Atlanta for an SEC championship.

And with wins against Clemson, Missouri and Auburn already on the resume, there is no doubt that a victory in Atlanta would have led to the Bulldogs being included in the first ever College Football Playoff.

Ultimately, though, it was the games Georgia was expected to win with ease that ended up its downfall.

Heading into 2015, the Bulldogs are hoping to continue their previous success against the best competition the country has to offer, while, at the same time, fixing a way to correct their inconsistencies in the games in which they are heavily favored.

“Those head-to-head matchups are crucially important, but all the games count,” head coach Mark Richt commented on his team trying to be more consistent at SEC Media Days. “Our focus is on the process again. Our focus isn't on getting [to Atlanta] as much as what do we have to do on a daily basis to earn the right for victory. That's what the guys have been doing throughout the offseason, the spring and the summer workouts.”

Should the Bulldogs be able to rectify their issues, there is a very good chance that the Bulldogs will ultimately find themselves in Atlanta early in December.

Play for an SEC championship, and the consensus is that you are in the running for the College Football Playoff.

Georgia has already proven that it can beat any team in the nation.

It has also, disappointingly, proven that it can be susceptible to being the victim of a surprise upset.

The Georgia players are hoping to use the lessons learned from the 2014 campaign to spurn them on towards consistent efforts in the upcoming season.

Should the team be able to succeed in that endeavor, there is no limit on what the Bulldogs could be able to accomplish.

Matt Osborne - Matt Osborne currently serves as the director of recruiting and lead editor for Southern Pigskin. His work has been published in a number of national publications, including USA Today. Although he loves all levels of football, Matt's number one joy in his life is his relationship with Jesus Christ. Follow Matt on Twitter: @MattOsborne200. For media requests, please email Matt at matt@southernpigskin.com.