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Chris Gay: Georgia looks like it could be for real

Posted: October 4, 2017 - 12:49am

I sat Saturday afternoon in my chair scooping pimento cheese into my mouth with Fritos, watching the Georgia-Tennessee game unfold.

I don't think I was alone when I had mixed feelings about the game. Going in, it felt like it was going to be a blowout. Then again, that's what made it worrisome. You and I have seen these games before when Georgia went it as the favorite only to fall flat. Yet, there's something different, something special, about this year's squad.

The undefeated Bulldogs have looked fantastic - for the most part - all season. The running game has looked on point. The freshman quarterback has looked like an upperclassman. And the defense looks faster than the Road Runner. Meep! Meep! (For the record, the Looney Tunes character never said, "Beep! Beep!" Go check for yourself on YouTube.)

Despite Georgia's new-found greatness, it was still a road game Saturday in the Southeastern Conference in front of more than 100,000 fans wearing orange, fans dressed to go hunting and to pick up trash at the same time. One of the Volunteers faithful should have tossed Tennessee head coach Butch Jones into the trash can on the sideline and taken him to the dump after the contest.

The Georgia quarterback, William Jacob Fromm (aka Jake Fromm State Farm), didn't look like a nervous freshman at Neyland Stadium. The 19-year-old kid from Warner Robins, Ga., passed for an early touchdown and then rushed for two more in the second quarter. Khakis! It was 24-0 at halftime. The pimento cheese had a better chance of making a comeback than Tennessee.

Final score: Bulldogs 41, Volunteers 0.

The game was such a blowout that I went to Apple Music afterward and found the Lynn Anderson version of "Rocky Top." Usually, the Tennessee band plays that incessant song 1,367 times during and after their team's games - about 1,366 times more than necessary. I played it just once, soaking in the joy of a rivalry win.

I haven't spanked my children as hard as Georgia spanked the Volunteers. It was Tennessee's worst home loss since 1905 - Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, Alaska and Hawaii weren't even states then.

After the performance, Georgia deservedly climbed two spots to No. 5 in the latest Associated Press Top 25 Poll. Ahead of the Bulldogs are Alabama, Clemson, Oklahoma and Penn State. While the Crimson Tide and Tigers look unstoppable, we'll find out more about the Sooners when they play Texas in two weeks. Penn State has played a weak schedule so far, but the Nittany Lions face a tough, two-week test when they play Michigan and Ohio State back to back later this month.

Georgia should beat Vanderbilt and Missouri the next two weeks to improve to 7-0. It's easy to write that. There's always the potential letdown factor after the Bulldogs notched a big, emotional road win. But this season's team has a different look. Is Georgia finally for real?

It's way too early to buy those tickets for the college football playoffs. There are still several obstacles ahead, like the games against Florida, Auburn and Kentucky. But if Georgia beats UF (The University of Felons) on Oct. 28 - and does so in convincing fashion - it might be time to get excited. Until then, be sure to stock up on pimento cheese.

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UNIVERSITY OF FELONS: In case you've still been recovering from the eclipse and missed it, Florida has nine suspended football players facing more than 60 felony counts due to more than $17,000 in alleged fraud. What in the wide world of jean shorts is going on down there?

According to the Tampa Bay Times, these players are being accused of using stolen credit cards to put money on their bookstore accounts to buy things like food, laptops and headphones. Offensive lineman Kadeem Telfort and defensive lineman Jordan Smith have combined for 48 felony complaints. Wide receiver Antonio Callaway, running back Jordan Scarlett and linebacker Ventrell Miller were previously cited for marijuana possession.

Expect to hear more about this scandal in the coming days and weeks. Until then, read about it here: http://www.tampabay.com/sports/college/nine-florida-football-players-62-...

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FALL CLASSIC: The Atlanta Braves finished their season at 72-90, their most wins since 2014. Atlanta will have the No. 8 pick in next year's draft. Translation: The Braves will stock their loaded farm system with another two to four quality players.

Atlanta will miss the baseball playoffs, which start this week, for the fourth year in a row. I hate the postseason format for baseball. It's something that needs to be changed soon, before the Braves make their way back to the playoffs.

In the NBA, 16 of the 30 teams advance to the playoffs. The same for the NHL. In the NFL, 12 of 32 teams make postseason play.

In Major League Baseball, just 10 of 30 teams advance to the playoffs. Sort of. The top three division winners in the American and National leagues earn a spot into the postseason, along with two wild-card teams in each league. These wild-card teams play one game before facing the No. 1 team in each league - Cleveland in the American League, Los Angeles in the National League.

I'm not a fan of the wild-card game. I'm unsure what then-commissioner Bud Selig was trying to accomplish when this was started in 2012, but then again Selig wasn't known for his great ideas. Four teams play 162 games just to play one play-in game per league. One. That's weak.

The baseball powers need to fix this. Here's how: First, allow six teams per league to make the playoffs. By adding two more teams, baseball will boost attendance, as well as TV ratings and interest. Then, give the top two teams in each league a first-round bye. The lowest-seeded division winner and three remaining wild-card teams then would play a best-of-five series. Then, the No. 1 seed in each league would play the lowest-seeded team in the next round, a best-of-seven series, while the remaining two teams would face each other.

With the NFL on the decline, here's a chance for the MLB to reclaim its spot as the No. 1 sport in the United States. Few things are as American as apple pie, the national anthem and baseball. Major League Baseball officials need to see this opportunity in front of them is sitting on a tee. Now, it's time for them to knock it out of the park.

 

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