I don't think it's a secret that I've been a frank pessimist regarding the Dawgs since about midway through the second quarter of the 2008 Alabama game. That doesn't mean I don't desperately want to be an unbridled, unabashed optimist about the Dawgs. My problem is a lack of evidence to make the turn. In the last two and a half seasons, there's only been one sound defeat of a legitimate team (Tech 2009). Even inferior teams have given the Dawgs problems (and more than a couple of losses) during that span. And then, there's been two epic beatings in Jacksonville.
This year's team, left for dead in the Flatirons, has suddenly appeared competent with three straight convincing wins. While I'm not yet ready to start beating my chest until it's red and black, there seem to be a lot of us who are. Vegas likes us this weekend. The experts, if you call Mark Bradley that, are for the most part picking the Dawgs, despite our recent historical difficulties in Jacksonville. I can't remember this much objective enthusiasm about UGA's chances in Jacksonville since Zook was fired or that suicide-inducing 2002 game (I apologize for bringing it up, **PUKING**).
The experts are picking us because we are the "hot" team. Three straight convincing wins will evidently make you forget two atrocious efforts earlier in the same season. But, it looks to me that our relative hotness and the Gators' relative coolness is simply a matter of timing. UF beat UT and UK badly, just like us. UF lost to Mississippi State in embarrassing fashion, just like we did. These results, however, have just come at opposing times. UF got UT and UK early and we played them this month. So, we're essentially the same team against common opponents. They've looked like a bunch of turds lately, but we looked turdtastic early.
Even with the experts on our side, there's something of a lingering dread about this game that keeps me from complete confidence Saturday. I'm having a problem turning myself into a bubbly fountain of hope because I've been burned so often and so badly in this series, but am I just not getting it this year? Should I be more confident?
Given the recent history of the series, I feel like the Dawgs have to show me they can beat the Gators without endzone celebrations, lame duck coaches, or goofy alternate unis. I want a straight up win over the Gators with no frills. It's something I haven't seen in thirteen years. I don't want to hear how we're going to do it. I want to see it. Let us have it, Dawgs. Please. My capacity for hope in this series could be at stake.