Posted: 12:00 p.m. Tuesday, July 30, 2013
By Brandon Larrabee
A look at the baker's dozen of games that will shape the SEC in 2013
First game: 1894; played 65 times
The series: Georgia leads 46-17-2 all time, and has the kind of trend numbers that you might expect to go along with that. The longest winning streak for the Dawgs in the series is 10 -- a number they've hit twice -- while their longest losing streak sits at three. Georgia is 19-9-2 in games played in Columbia. That said, the games in recent years have almost always been extraordinarily close, last year's 35-7 clubbing of Georgia and the 31-7 beatdown in 2003 being the exceptions rather than the rule. Only five of the last thirteen games have been decided by more than one score, and only three have been decided by more than 11 points. Georgia won the second game of the series 5-0; not to be outdone, South Carolina won the teams' fifth meeting 2-0. While not its most successful, this is the oldest and most frequent SEC rivalry for the Gamecocks.
In recent years: It depends on which time frame you use. South Carolina has won the last three games, the first time that's ever happened in the series. The Gamecocks have also won four of the last six. But the Dawgs can claim the series over the last ten games with a 6-4 edge. South Carolina is closing the gap with Georgia in the short run, but it will take several long, sustained winning streaks to get the overall series close to even.
Last year's game: In the Dawgs' worst showing of the year, South Carolina took a 21-0 lead early and essentially coasted to the win. The SEC Championship Game is the only one Georgia has lost since then. The win initially looked like it put South Carolina in prime position to win the SEC East, but back-to-back losses at LSU and at Florida all but eliminated the Gamecocks from the division race. That was the latest blow to the predictive ability of a game that once seemed to determine which team would have a good season and which team would not.
This year: Georgia hosts South Carolina in the second game of the year and first SEC contest for both teams. The Dawgs will likely be eager for the opportunity to erase last year's game from everyone's memory -- not that either team will have motivation problems. Recent history or no, with the Dawgs and the Gamecocks being seen as more or less the top two teams in the division, whoever wins will become the perceived frontrunner for the ticket to Atlanta. Both of them, though, have more than enough land mines left on the schedule to make things interesting again down the stretch.