It seemed almost within seconds after the announcement of The Alabama Crimson Tide traveling to Athens to play the Georgia Bulldogs for the 2015 season, the infamous “Blackout” game was rehashed and brought back to life for Alabama fans.
In 2008, Georgia coach Mark Richt believed he had a team capable of competing for a national championship. With an elite quarterback in Matthew Stafford, a Heisman candidate running back in Knowshon Moreno, and a newfound swagger not seen in years — Richt was feeling himself and his team was ready to take that next leap into the championship conversation.
There’s just one problem. Richt for years has had a problem with not getting out of his own way and seems to have a knack for blowing the big game, and this season didn’t exactly play out the way he anticipated.
Before I get into the “Blackout” game, let me first rewind back to October 28, 2007. This is a date that every Bulldog fan should remember, and many Florida Gators fans would like to forget.
On this day, the Bulldogs marched into Jacksonville Memorial Stadium and put on a display neither the college football world nor then-Florida coach Urban Meyer was ready for as the Bulldogs danced their way (literally) to victory in a shocking upset. The moment that everyone remembers is the very first touchdown as Moreno crossed the end zone, the entire Georgia sideline rushed the field and put on a never before seen celebration that stunned the entire Gators team (Take a look at Tim Tebow‘s face).
The celebration, which was obviously predetermined did not sit well with Meyer or the Gators players, but for Georgia, it was all they needed to set the tone and they finished the Gators off with a 42-30 victory in the “World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.”
The Bulldogs kept that momentum and won their next five games including a BCS Sugar Bowl title in convincing fashion as they clobbered the Hawaii Warriors 41-10.
With that kind of finish, it was no surprise the Bulldogs began the 2008 season as the No. 1 ranked team and favorites to win the BCS Championship.
After starting their season 4-0, it was time to host the Tide, and while the Bulldogs dropped a couple spots in the rankings, they were still confident they would continue their 9-game win streak by dropping Alabama.
It was reported that Georgia was planning a “blackout” for this game in which their uniforms would be black and possibly provide an extra spark similar to the planned celebration against the Gators just 11 months prior.
Well, Alabama of course got wind of this and one would think with new bulletin board material, Nick Saban would use this to motivate his players (which he probably did), but it was a relatively unknown staff member at the time who made a profound statement to the team during warm-ups (listen at around the 1:04 mark) for practice that seemed to awaken not only the players, but reverberated throughout the Alabama fanbase like wildfire.
With a few simple words from strength and conditioning coach Scott Cochran, the Alabama players didn’t view Georgia’s new uniforms as any threat, but more so a joke. While stretching, Cochran stated “They’re (Georgia) wearing black because they’re going to a m—–f—— funeral.”
Cochran’s words were not exactly prophetic as no one actually died, but the Bulldogs’ season did that night as the Tide marched out to 31-0 lead at halftime. Georgia fought back hard in the second half, but it was too little too late as their efforts couldn’t outlast the Tide and lost 41-30.
From there, things didn’t get any better for Richt and the Bulldogs as they still had to face a Florida team who was out for blood for any team who stepped in their path after losing a heartbreaker earlier that year to Ole Miss. The word revenge does little justice as to the mindset of Meyer and the Gators as they were starving to avenge the embarrassing loss the previous year, and did so in convincing fashion with a 49-10 romp over the Bulldogs.
This loss took the Bulldogs out of the SEC Championship game and completely out of the national championship conversation. To add insult to injury, they were handed their third loss to end their regular season to their in-state foe in the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.
This is a new year, and a new chance for Richt to try something different. In order to beat the Tide at home, there’s no need for ploys or tricks. For the first time in 72 games, Alabama is labeled an underdog and this, and only this is all Richt needs to know. Whether they wind up victorious or not will be decided on Saturday.
Alabama knows what’s at stake, and so do the Bulldogs. Time to buckle the chip straps, and play some good old-fashioned football. No gimmicks.