There are two types of Georgia fans in the world: those who are convinced the Dawgs will (or should) win every single game they play, and those who sense disaster lurking every single Saturday during the fall. The Manic-Depressive Preview brings you both of these fans in a single body. Join them (him?) as they journey through Georgia's 2012 season, which will either be a feast of gridiron delights or a whole laundry list of things to tell the therapist about, depending on which one you talk to.
Manic Doug is the outgoing, fearless member of the two. He plays hard, drinks harder, and cheers hardest of all; when Georgia was down by 32 in the waning minutes of last year's SEC Championship Game, he was the guy standing up in someone's corporate skybox hollering, "COME ON, BOYS, YOU GOT 'EM RIGHT WHERE YOU WANT 'EM" whilst spilling beer on people who make more money in a week than he does in a year. In his mind, there is no opponent the Dawgs can't defeat, nor is there any woman in a downtown Athens bar at 1 a.m. on a Saturday who can resist his charms, and despite bring repeatedly proven wrong on both counts over the past few years, his worldview remains unshakably sunny.
Depressive Doug is the grounded, thoughtful, analytical one of the bunch. He is also neurotic, guilt-ridden, and convinced that any joys in life are only there to set one up for later disappointment. How he got this way remains a mystery, but it probably has something to do with a strict Catholic upbringing combined with Georgia's 1998 season, in which the Dawgs went down to Baton Rouge, upset LSU, and went into the Tennessee game the following week with a higher ranking than the Vols for the first time in forever, only to get a 19-point beatdown from Big Orange. Like Manic Doug, he lives and dies with the Bulldogs each week, but unlike Manic Doug he can rarely bring himself to actually enjoy a football game — and if he does, that probably just means he'll be at church the next day, confessing the deadly sin of pride.
Manic Doug: WAKE UP! WAKE UP!! FOOTBALL SEASON IS HERE! IT'S HERE! THE OFF-SEASON'S OVER! WE MADE IT!!
Depressive Doug: It's also 6:30 a.m. on a Thursday, and we don't play until Saturday. You're at a ten right now, and I really need you at more like a three, three-and-a-half, tops.
MD: Come on, man. You can't tell me you're not excited about football being back. This day is as big as Christmas for us.
DD: No, you're right, I'm excited. This could be an exciting season — a bunch of teams in new conferences, a relatively wide-open race for most of the conference titles and for the national title . . .
MD: Yeah, and . . . ?
DD: And what?
MD: Georgia beginning its quest for a national championship! This is the year, man, I can feel it in my —
DD: Oh, God don't finish that sentence. First of all, I don't want to know where you feel it, and second of all, are you kidding me? Do you really need me to explain to you the definition of "hubris" for the thirty thousandth time?
MD: What? I'm looking at this logically!
DD: Well, that's certainly a nice change of pace for you.
MD: No, seriously, think about it: Are there any games on Georgia's schedule that you look at right now and think, "There's no way we can win that"?
DD: Well, not right now, no, but that doesn't mean —
MD: So if we go 12-0 in the regular season, by definition that means we end up in the SEC title game, right?
DD: Of course, but I think you're getting way ahead of —
MD: And for the past six years, the SEC title game has basically been a play-in for the BCS National Championship Game, so if we win the conference title, boom, we're in. Right? Tell me I'm wrong!
DD: You — (heavy sigh) You are, in theory, correct about how all that works. However, you are also guilty of counting chickens before they hatch. At this point, you're counting chickens when you don't even have any eggs.
MD: Fine, be like that. I knew you would. But you can't deny there's something in the air this season.
DD: Judging by your attitude this morning, that "something" would have to be an aerosolized hallucinogen.
MD: That's a lot of multi-syllable words for 6:30 in the morning, college boy. You want to pee in my Cheerios some more, or do you want to get around to actually previewing this weekend's game?
DD: Yes. Fine. Let's take things one game at a time, like I've been trying to get you to do for years now. Our first opponent, the Buffalo Bulls, present an —
MD: Georgia 62, Buffalo zero. We good? I'm gonna go make us some coffee, so if you wanna get started with Missouri while I'm in there, that's fine with me . . .
DD: (even heavier sigh) And you wonder why I accuse you of not taking this seriously sometimes.
MD: Gee, buddy, I'm sorry for not respecting the gravitas of a team that went 2-6 in the MAC last season. Do we really need a lot more discussion here?
DD: Buffalo isn't a complete scrub, you know. They did go to a bowl game —
MD: One bowl game, four years ago.
DD: They knocked off Ohio last year, who ended up winning 10 games —
MD: A one-point victory, one of only three wins on the season.
DD: They've got 16 starters coming back, including a running back, Branden Oliver, who was second in the MAC in rushing last year —
MD: The other 15 of whom would probably be lucky to crack Georgia's two-deep. And their top defensive player, Khalil Mack, has been suspended for this game. You're not seriously trying to convince me Buffalo's gonna be competitive in this game, are you?
DD: No, but come on — you know as well as I do that Georgia has a habit of playing down to their competition in these early-season non-conference games. Buffalo's not a great team, but they should be better than last year, and they might be just good enough to keep Georgia from pulling away if we play sloppy.
MD: Nope. We could play our second string the entire game and still win by 30. They don't have a single QB on the roster who threw more than 12 passes last year, which means we can just key in on their running game all afternoon long. Think of our front seven, man — what makes you think Buffalo can score at all?
DD: I'm more concerned with our offense. An offensive line that's been almost completely rebuilt, a running game that's almost completely untested . . . Aaron Murray's gonna need to look sharp, and the line is gonna have to show they can protect him.
MD: Against a defense that was 100th in the nation in sacks last year? I'd save your prayers for the starving kids in Africa, buddy, Murray's gonna be just fine.
DD: Your concern for the world's poor and undernourished is admirable. But I'm not convinced this is gonna be one of those times where we can just kick back for the entire second half and watch the bench players throw it around.
MD: I'll make you a deal: If Aaron Murray isn't relaxing on the bench with a nice refreshing cup of ice water by, oh, the second offensive drive of the third quarter, I'll buy you a meal at whichever restaurant in Atlanta you'd like to go to.
DD: See, I hate these bets because you're putting me in a position where I can only profit off of Georgia's misfortune. But fine, if you want to buy me a meal that badly, I won't stop you.
MD: So you think the starters will be in the game for longer than that.
DD: I do. Georgia's going to win, but it'll be closer at halftime than a lot of people are expecting, and the offense is gonna look rusty enough for most of the first half that Richt will keep the starters in to give them some more reps. The Dawgs start pulling away late in the third quarter, but a 37.5-point spread is too much for me. I'll say Georgia 41, Buffalo 13.
MD: Well, I'll amend my original prediction, but not by much. Buffalo sneaks a late score past our backups, but the Dawgs roll otherwise, and yes, they do cover thirty-seven and a half. Georgia 59, Buffalo 7.
DD: So you put our two predictions together and they average out to a 50-10 victory for the Dawgs, which would cover the spread. Would you be satisfied with that?
MD: Well, I still don't see how the Bulls make it to double digits, but sure, I can roll with that. Covering the spread is covering the spread — whether we do it by one point or 20, it's still cash in my pocket.
DD: Oh, God. You're doing that again? Should I start making preparations to have our power turned off sometime around Christmas, like last year?
MD: Oh, don't act like that roaring fire didn't put you in the holiday spirit. You need to take a step back and appreciate the little things, man.