Sat Nov 26 03:33pm EST
Georgia 31, Georgia Tech 17.
The story could change in any number of ways over time so let the record show: Yes, by all indications Mark Richt really was in danger of losing his job after Georgia's season-opening losses to Boise State and South Carolina. Ten games and two-and-a-half months later, his team just finished off the longest winning streak of Richt's career.
No, it wasn't an unrelenting grind out of the hole. As little as it did for the argument today, Georgia Tech is arguably the most impressive victim in the entire run, which included just two other teams (Auburn and Florida) on their way to bowl games and none before today that came in ranked in any major poll. With the Yellow Jackets' inevitable exit, Georgia still hasn't beaten a team with a chance to appear in the final regular season rankings on Sunday morning. But as of right now, the list of major college football teams with at least ten consecutive wins, against any schedule, is exactly three names long: 1. LSU, 2. Houston, and 3. Georgia.
It's one kind of satisfaction for Bulldog fans to watch an embattled lineup come together; it's another when that lineup is so young. UGA has far too much at stake next Saturday — an SEC championship, a BCS bowl, an 11 or 12-win season — to start looking ahead to 2012. But you can practically hear the preseason hype over the returning stars from here. That includes the best quarterback in the conference, sophomore Aaron Murray. It includes the most productive freshman rusher (Isaiah Crowell) and receiver (Malcolm Mitchell) in the league, and the most productive tight end (Orson Charles). It includes nine returning starters from a top-five defense, at least one of whom (Jarvis Jones) will dominate All-America teams and mock drafts. Where everyone had been fearing a depressing end, reality delivered a promising beginning.
Of course, it's a bit presumptive to skip ahead nine months, or even to describe the streak as "finished" when Georgia has a perfectly valid upset bid on deck against the undisputed overlord of every ballot in every poll, LSU. The Bulldogs aren't pulling into Atlanta thinking, "Well, at least our moral victory is secure." But really, it is: In the same way that next weekend is redundant in terms of reinforcing the Tigers' season-long dominance, Georgia doesn't need an inspired, down-to-the-wire effort to open anyone's eyes to how far it's come since September, or how close it is to a breakthrough. Anyone who hasn't noticed by now just hasn't been paying attention.