Georgia facing its first HBCU football opponent

Georgia facing its first HBCU football opponent

September 23rd, 2015 by David Paschall in Sports - College

Redshirt junior tailback Keith Marshall believes the Bulldogs will not look past Southern this Saturday at Sanford Stadium with Alabama arriving next week.

Photo by John Kelley Jr.

ATHENS, Ga. -- The Georgia Bulldogs host Alabama next week, which could mark the first time in 72 football games that the Crimson Tide will compete as underdogs.

Georgia's objective this week is trying to keep the Alabama game in the future.

"We hear it around campus, but in this building we're focused on Southern," redshirt junior tailback Keith Marshall said Tuesday. "I don't think it will be a challenge. The coaches and older players will make sure everyone stays focused."

Southern University, located in Baton Rouge, La., is Georgia's lone Football Championship Subdivision foe this season. This is the ninth consecutive year Georgia will have played an FCS team, with the Bulldogs having throttled the last six — Tennessee Tech, Idaho State, Coastal Carolina, Georgia Southern, Appalachian State and Charleston Southern — by the average score of 50-6.

The only difference among the FCS opponents Georgia has faced is when they've appeared on the schedule. The Bulldogs opened their 2008 season with Georgia Southern, played Coastal Carolina in the third game of the 2011 season and faced Charleston Southern in the 11th game last season.

"I don't really have a preference," coach Mark Richt said Tuesday. "I think the SEC decides who we are going to play and when we are going to play, and then we just kind of fill in from there, so I don't know if we have much of a choice on that."

Saturday will be the first time Georgia has faced one of the 105 HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities), which were all created before 1964 with the mission of providing quality higher education to blacks.

Southern will pocket $650,000 for making the trip, and its "Human Jukebox" marching band is scheduled to perform at halftime.

"It's a great feeling to be playing an HBC for the first time," Bulldogs senior defensive end Sterling Bailey said. "It's a great milestone."

The Jaguars are 2-1 this season, losing their opener to Louisiana Tech (62-15) before defeating Mississippi Valley State (50-13) and Jackson State (50-31). Southern coach Dawson Odums admits that one of his goals is to return to Baton Rouge with the same number of healthy guys he takes to Athens.

Odums also is hoping the Jaguars can simply focus on themselves.

"Our players understand that we've got to go out there, line up and play football," Odums said. "I've told them, 'They are no different from you, other than they're a bigger school with more resources.' They can't put but 11 out there, so we've got to have the right mindset to give ourselves even a chance."

As for the Bulldogs looking ahead to Alabama, senior outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins believes there may be a not-too-distant memory to prevent that from happening.

"With the way last season happened against Florida, I feel like that's not going to be a problem this year," Jenkins said. "We're going to reiterate it and reiterate it day in and day out that we take this one game at a time, we treat every opponent the same, and we don't look ahead."

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.


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