The Georgia Bulldogs and Clemson Tigers are two of the biggest teases in college football. Yet on Aug. 31, either the Bulldogs or Tigers will be left in a position to finally deliver and become serious BCS contenders. With No. 5 Georgia traveling to No. 8 Clemson in the first top 10 showdown of the college football season, this serves as an elimination game for two programs used to serious letdowns.
Whenever the Tigers and Bulldogs are pegged as potential national title challengers, something or other has usually happened to derail it. The last time Clemson was a preseason top 10 was in 2008, yet it started 3-4 and got coach Tommy Bowden fired. Even when the Tigers finally won the ACC in 2011, they gave up an historic 70 points to the West Virginia Mountaineers in the Orange Bowl.
The Bulldogs also had high expectations in 2008 as the preseason No. 1, yet they were knocked out of contention with a home loss to the Alabama Crimson Tide and a blowout loss to the Florida Gators. While Georgia has won the SEC East in the last two years, it was blown out by the LSU Tigers in the 2011 SEC championship game, then came up five yards short to the eventual national champion Tide last year.
With the Bulldogs visiting the Tigers and hosting the South Carolina Gamecocks the very next week, this could quickly turn into another disappointing near-miss season. But if Georgia survives in Death Valley and then holds off its top challenger in the SEC East, it will have a quick leap up in the SEC and BCS races. Even just one loss early on could be enough to endure if the Bulldogs run the table afterwards.
The Tigers don’t have that luxury, as nothing less than a perfect record will make them BCS frontrunners. A loss to the Bulldogs won’t hurt their ACC chances, yet a huge loss like this at home could make them spiral into irrelevance, like it might have in the past. If Clemson wants to prove this is a whole new era, it will beat Georgia and then take off from there.
The Tigers and Bulldogs will start trying once again to get to the next level at 8 p.m. est on ABC.