Boise State has knocked off some top-notch programs in recent seasons but is 0-4 all-time against the SEC:
2000 Arkansas 38, BSU 31
2001 South Carolina 32, BSU 13
2002 Arkansas 41, BSU 14
2005 Georgia 48, BSU 13
Saturday night's college football matchup between Boise State and Georgia in the Georgia Dome was by no means required, but both sides felt a need.
For Boise State, it's another chance to enhance an already stout reputation as a Goliath slayer. The Broncos pulled off a 43-42 overtime victory over Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl after the 2006 regular season, and they have opened the past two years with wins over Oregon and Virginia Tech.
Last year's pairing against the Hokies was essentially a road game in Washington, D.C., as will Saturday's matchup in Atlanta.
"I guess we feel like the benefits outweigh the negatives of playing these games," Boise State coach Chris Petersen said Monday. "On one hand they're good because you get associated with a program like Georgia that everybody has so much respect for. On the other hand they're bad because you've got to play at an extremely high level, and you're going to have a bunch of new kids who have never played.
"It's a flip of the coin and a catch-22 in some ways."
For Georgia it's an opportunity to get back on the map. The Bulldogs won Southeastern Conference championships in 2002 and '05 and finished No. 2 nationally in '07, but the past two seasons have produced a 14-12 record.
Georgia was scheduled to host Louisville this weekend and Boise State was supposed to visit Ole Miss before this opener was announced last November.
"Where we were at that time was a decline in our record and a decline in how people perceived our program," Georgia coach Mark Richt said, "That was a place I didn't really like and wasn't very comfortable in. There is a risk in playing a team that can whip your tail because they might whip your tail, but in order for us to get back where we want to be, which is highly ranked and highly thought of, we need to play this game."
The Broncos are 61-5 under Petersen, whose 92.4-percent win clip is tops nationally among FBS coaches with a minimum of five years. He is the reigning Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year and is the only coach ever to win two Paul "Bear" Bryant trophies (2006 and '09).
When his '06 team finished 13-0, Petersen became the first major college coach since 1900 to win 13 games in his inaugural season.
"It's such a slow process," he said. "Nothing happens fast. Slowly but surely, we've just continued to build, and we've had good continuity on our staff. Maybe our recruiting has been upgraded, but nothing seems dramatic. It's just been going on for a while to where each year we've made a little bit of progress."
Before becoming head coach of the Broncos, Petersen served as their offensive coordinator from 2001to '05 under Dan Hawkins. The Broncos averaged 41.3 points per game during that stretch but came nowhere close to that in a 48-13 loss to Georgia in the '05 opener in Athens.
Georgia quarterback D.J. Shockley threw five touchdown passes and Boise counterpart Jared Zabransky threw four interceptions, and when Shockley connected with Sean Bailey for a 31-yard score less than five minutes into the second half, the Bulldogs were up 38-0.
"I don't remember the game," Petersen said. "I've put that out of my mind."
Odds and ends
The Bulldogs worked out for two hours in full pads Monday, with fullback Bruce Figgins, receivers Marlon Brown and Malcolm Mitchell, and backup nose Jonathan Jenkins returning to full speed. ... Junior tailback Richard Samuel (strained quad) still isn't at 100 percent but remains the projected starter.
Contact David Paschall at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6524.
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...