Correspondent

Chris Bridges is a columnist and former sports editor for The Walton Tribune.

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Chris Bridges

The offseason is a time for banter between fans of certain college programs.

That’s especially true here in SEC country where fans can get downright ugly in their hatred of other programs. Florida hates Georgia. Alabama hates Auburn. Ole Miss hates Mississippi State. Vanderbilt hates Tennessee. Missouri hates Arkansas. The hate is returned in kind.

Then there is the issue of Georgia, and especially Bulldog fans, when it comes to Alabama. So many UGA die-hards are still steaming about how national championships and even SEC championships have slipped through their fingers.

In recent years the offseason talk has pretty much been the same for UGA fans. They declare that “this year will be the year” when Alabama is dethroned and how their team is the one to do it.

We’ve heard it all before but it’s the Crimson Tide who still is on top of the mountain. Alabama is the defending national champion and until someone knocks them off (be it Georgia or anyone) then they remain the top program in the country.

It’s not that the Crimson Tide wins it all every year. They occasionally finished second or elsewhere in the top five. Still, as long as Nick Saban is directing the program then Alabama is the realistic SEC favorite as well as the top choice for national champion.

Make no mistake Georgia has come as close as anyone to dethroning the champion. It could be said the Bulldogs had the Tide beat for the national title. Yet, UGA left the door cracked open just enough to allow Alabama the chance to run out.

It was a crushing loss and one that showed just how hard it is to become the new bully on the block. It’s one thing to punch the bully square in the nose (UGA did that) but another thing entirely to knock the long-time bully out. The Bulldogs did not do that.

It appears the 2021 season will mark a return to normalcy. The COVID-19 crisis no longer dominates the headlines or the cable news shows. Teams should be able to play complete seasons.      

Similar to previous years, the talk among those who support UGA is that this time the Bulldogs will get the job done. They are the clear favorite in the SEC East and a soft schedule after the season opener puts UGA in great shape to go undefeated until the conference championship game.

It should be noted that some blind Georgia fans are already guaranteeing victory against Clemson in the opener. This is the game Bulldog fans should be focused on rather than a hypothetical matchup with Alabama down the road.

Clemson, despite losing its star quarterback to the NFL, is not going to be a pushover. In recent seasons the Tigers have been scoring highly rated recruiting classes as well.

Following the opener with Dabo Swinney’s team, UGA’s schedule is soft. The toughest opponents following Clemson are likely a down Florida team and an Auburn team with a new head coach.

The Bulldogs don’t play Alabama, Texas A&M or LSU in the regular season. The same goes for Ole Miss and Mississippi State. It’s all there for the taking for Kirby Smart and company.

Yet, haven’t we heard all of this before? What makes the 2021 season any different? Georgia will take the field with a ton of five-star recruits. In some loyalists’ minds, the Bulldogs have the best coach in the country. 

These programs have two of the most rabid fan bases in the country. Alabama fans have reason to crow, however, as the Tide is always in contention. It is a surprise if Bama does not win it all each year.

Even so, there remains one obstacle that has been impossible for UGA to clear. So, will this season be different?

Probably not. Look for Alabama to win the SEC once more and battle for the national championship.

But hey, UGA may very well have that championship trophy in recruiting. I guess that is worth something.

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