Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Seniors' careers marked by wins vs. rivals
By David Ching
ATHENS, Ga. – The first measuring stick for any senior class is championships -- and in that regard, the results for Georgia's 2013 seniors are a mixed bag.
This group won the SEC East as sophomores and juniors and fell just short of playing for a BCS championship last season before injuries crippled a 2013 team that felt it was poised to at least extend the team's run of consecutive division titles.
Aaron Murray, Rhett McGowan and Georgia's seniors have fared well against the team's biggest rivals.
Nonetheless, a secondary measure for Georgia's seniors is how their class fared against the program's biggest rivals, and the 2013 bunch has a chance to go out on an extremely high note. Entering Saturday's game against in-state rival Georgia Tech, this senior class is 12-3 over a four-year period against Tech, Florida, Auburn and Tennessee.
"Growing up watching Georgia football, you understand that those are really the big four teams that you want to beat," said senior offensive lineman Chris Burnette, a lifelong Georgia fan. "You want to beat Tech first and foremost; you always want to beat Florida, always got to beat Auburn, because it's the longest-running rivalry in the South and all that stuff. And you always want to beat Tennessee, because we just don't like orange.
"It's definitely good. As a senior class, it's awesome to see that we've been able to hold our own against them and hopefully just finish it out well."
In fact, these Bulldogs have held their own against Georgia's big four as well as any senior class since Tennessee came onto the schedule as an every-year rival in 1992. Their 12 wins match the win total by last season's seniors, who were 12-4, as the most against those rivals by any Georgia senior class in that time frame.
Before last season, the best four-year record for any senior class in that period was 10-6 -- a mark set by Georgia's 2004, 2005 and 2011 classes. And the 2013 seniors can pass all of them with a win against the Yellow Jackets on Saturday.
"It's going to be a special game knowing that it's our last one against Tech," senior receiver Rhett McGowan said. "That's always a heated rivalry, a little chippy in that game, but it's a lot of fun. So we're excited to get to go there and play them knowing it's going to be our last regular-season game, and it'll to be another emotional night. But after the first snap, that all goes away and you just play football and hope to get the win."
These seniors will finish their careers 4-0 against Tennessee and could make it 4-0 against Tech with a win Saturday. Their heartbreaking loss to Auburn two weekends ago meant that they will finish 2-2 against the Bulldogs' oldest rival. And perhaps the highlight of them all is that they posted a 3-1 mark against Florida, making them Georgia's first senior class since 1990 to enjoy a winning record against the Gators.
Another highlight is that they beat all four rivals in both 2011 and 2012, marking the first times since 1981 that Georgia swept those four games in a season.
The Auburn loss means they won't pull that feat for a third straight season -- and the senior class' 1-3 record against South Carolina means that budding rivalry should join the big four in importance over the foreseeable future -- but the 2013 class still can finish on a happy note with a win in Saturday's regular-season finale, which certainly beats the alternative.
"You never want to end your career with a loss to Tech. So that's definitely something that's not going to be hard to get up for," Burnette said. "We understand what they bring on offense and what they bring on defense and all that type of stuff, so we're going to be ready."