September 25, 2010
Mississippi State 24, Georgia 12. The 24-6 score that hit the scrolling ticker after a pair of fourth-quarter MSU touchdowns pretty much says all you need to know about Georgia's season: In 12 quarters against SEC defenses, UGA's been held out of the end zone in nine of them, and tonight's contribution to that sad ratio only came with the outcome already decided in the final two minutes. You can blame offensive coordinator Mike Bobo, or redshirt freshman quarterback Aaron Murray, or the offensive line. You blame the NCAA-mandated absence of star receiver A.J. Green. You can blame the awful conversion rate in the end zone, which now includes two critical goal line fumbles in three weeks. At the moment, this offense is officially a disaster.
With that reality, the Bulldogs' record and Mark Richt's approval rating sink to new lows. The three-game losing streak is the longest of his decade-long tenure, and if competitive disappointments against South Carolina and Arkansas were forgivable, a double-digit flop at the hands of the league's lesser Bulldogs is a wheels-fall-off scenario. UGA has four imminently winnable games – at Colorado, Tennessee, Vanderbilt and at Kentucky – to get on track before the Cocktail Party date with Florida, and could easily lose any one of them.
That game was supposed to be decide the SEC East; now, it may very well decide Richt's future. The next month is going to be as defining a stretch for him as any in the Bulldogs' SEC championship runs earlier in the decade. The further those triumphs recede into the rearview mirror, the harder it is to pass off underachieving outfits like this one as mulligans.
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Matt Hinton is on Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.