The Georgia Bulldogs don’t need any motivation to dominate an opponent, but they’ll take it.
Despite upset predictions from every South Carolina fan with an internet connection, the Dawgs traveled to Columbia on Saturday and beat the Gamecocks without breaking much of a sweat. A pick-six (kind of) from Deandre Baker on South Carolina’s opening drive and a 17-yard touchdown run from D’Andre Swift on Georgia’s, which went 76 yards in four plays, gave the Dawgs a 14-0 lead in the opening three minutes. The Gamecocks battled back the rest of the first half and kept things close, but a half-ending field goal from GODrigo Blankenship and a blitzkrieg to start the third quarter helped the Dawgs to a comfortable 41-17 victory.
If every South Carolina player and fan had kept their mouths shut in the buildup to this game, Georgia still probably wins nine times out of 10. But a healthy helping of smack talk from the Gamecocks, mixed with Georgia’s clearly superior talent, was a recipe for a beatdown, and a message to any like-minded opponents: Keep our name out your mouth.
The smack talk started with former Gamecock Tori Gurley (no relation to Todd). Speaking to Paul Finebaum on the SEC Network back in July, Gurley guaranteed a South Carolina win over the Dawgs. He doubled down with a tweet in the buildup to the game as his remarks resurfaced, which was a really bad idea. Forty-eight copies of Gurley’s guarantee were posted in Georgia’s weight room last week. Kirby Smart downplayed the effect of this ploy, but Baker admitted the team used it as motivation. (Gurley was gracious after being proven wrong and even changed his Twitter avatar to the “Power G.”)
Baker was the biggest recipient of South Carolina’s misguided trash talk. Last week, Carolina’s star receiver Deebo Samuel—the man most Gamecock fans were pinning their hopes on to provide the spark for an upset—did his best to disrespect Baker, a player universally acclaimed as one of the best corners in college football. When asked by a reporter what he thought of Baker, Samuel asked, “Who?” The reporter clarified that he’s talking about No. 18, the cornerback. “I really ain’t watched much of him, but I’m gonna get to it today.”
Deebo, my man, that was a very bad decision.
A clearly motivated Baker covered Samuel like white on rice on a paper plate with a glass of milk in a snowstorm. Samuel finished the game with six catches for a paltry 33 yards. (He also threw for one touchdown.) Baker told reporters after the game, “If he went to the bathroom, I was going with him.” And as if to prove to Samuel that he’s not only a better football player, but also a better trash talker, while walking off the field Baker said, “The only Deebo I know got hit by Craig in the movie Friday.”
Of course, the smack talk only helps. It doesn’t win games. Talent wins games, and Georgia is unequivocally more talented than Carolina. Based on the blue-chip ratio, Georgia is one of only 13 teams with enough talent to win the national title this season. South Carolina ain’t. In fact, the only two teams on Georgia’s schedule that are with the Dawgs in that elite group of 13 are LSU and Auburn. South Carolina was expected to be Georgia’s biggest threat in the SEC East, and Florida looks years away from good, as it lost to Kentucky for the first time in 31 years Saturday at the Swamp. The way things are shaping up, Georgia will have a cakewalk through the East, as we all expected, with its two West opponents standing as the only teams who can challenge it based purely on talent.
That’s not to say Georgia doesn’t have its issues, or that it is guaranteed to beat every team with lesser talent. College football is weird. Crazy stuff does and will happen. But if any team that can’t match Georgia’s talent wants to score an upset, its players (and ex-players) best keep their mouths shut in the buildup. These Dawgs ain’t about that, so if you’re gonna start talking, show some respect.
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