There was a time Saturday evening when it looked like Georgia might be the decided favorite over South Carolina this weekend.
The Bulldogs struck first against Boise State in the Georgia Dome, while South Carolina found itself in a 17-0 hole against East Carolina in Charlotte. That scenario was short-lived, however, as the Broncos roared past Georgia, 35-21, and the Gamecocks erupted for a 56-37 win.
South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier was asked Sunday if he thought the Bulldogs might use Mark Richt's job security as motivation this week, but he didn't bite. A Gamecocks win would leave Richt 15-15 in his last 30 games.
"I've got enough problems here, so I don't think Coach Richt needs me to worry about him," Spurrier said. "I was worried about my job at halftime last night."
Georgia not only lost the opener but starting inside linebacker Alec Ogletree, who broke a bone in his right foot late in the first quarter and will be out four to six weeks. Starting left guard Kenarious Gates left early in the second quarter with a left ankle injury, but Richt expects him to play this week.
Ogletree, the best player in Georgia's 2010 signing class, is undergoing surgery today.
"That is a big blow," Richt said.
The Bulldogs, who had been pointing to Boise State all summer as a quick way to get back among the nation's elite, must regroup in a hurry. Richt said after the game that he was encouraged by the reaction of his seniors in the locker room, and he believes he knows more about his team than if the Bulldogs had creamed some cupcake.
His players expressed confidence in being able to put the opener behind them.
"Our real test comes next week, because it's an SEC game" quarterback Aaron Murray said. "We've got to start winning those games in order to get back to Atlanta. This is definitely a disappointment, just from a momentum standpoint, but we've got to put it behind us and get ready to win some SEC games."
Said cornerback Brandon Boykin: "It was just one game, and we knew it was going to be a test, but we know where we stand as a team and we know what we've got to work on."
Boykin's 80-yard run midway through the first quarter put Georgia up 7-0, but the Broncos responded with four unanswered touchdowns. During that surge, Boise State ran 44 plays for 277 yards (6.3 per play), while Georgia ran 33 for 108 (3.3).
Spurrier was impressed after viewing the Broncos on film.
"I love watching them play because they block, they tackle well and they play fundamentals," he said. "They always have guys in position, and they don't do stupid things. They just play the game the way you're supposed to. Heck, I may even vote them No. 1 in the country after watching them beat Georgia."
Sophomore Connor Shaw started at quarterback against ECU but completed just 3 of 9 passes for 21 yards. Maligned redshirt senior Stephen Garcia entered in the second quarter and rallied the Gamecocks by accounting for three touchdowns, including a rushing score from 32 yards out.
Spurrier said Garcia is the starter this week.
Odds and ends
This marks the first South Carolina-Georgia game in which the teams were picked to finish first and second in the SEC East before the season. ... Georgia safety Bacarri Rambo and tailback Carlton Thomas, who were suspended for the opener for violating team rules, will be available this week. ... Richt is hoping to find some rest for inside linebacker Christian Robinson, who had 13 tackles against BSU, and outside linebacker Jarvis Jones, who had 11 stops and 2.5 tackles for loss.
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...