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Monday July 6th, 2015 7:28AM

Opinion: Georgia fans will need time to bounce back

By Morgan Lee Sports Editor
Over Thirty years ago, the great Lewis Grizzard wrote, "For Georgia fans, this one was forever."

On Saturday night, many in the Dog nation might have found themselves thinking the same thing -- only under completely different circumstances.

With so much on the line, including a-long absent shot at a national title -- under conditions eerily similar to that time when Grizzard so perfectly captured the essence of Bulldog glory -- Georgia saw its opportunity slip through its fingers rather like a greased crystal trophy.

This one will hurt for a while.

Make no mistake, the Bulldogs gained plenty of national respect for playing mighty Alabama to within an inch of its championship-hoarding life. But Georgia will derive little solace from platitudes about great games and coulda', woulda', shoulda'.

Unfortunately, it's a position to which Bulldog backers have grown somewhat accustomed. And perhaps this one hurts even worse because of just how close the coulda', woulda', shoulda' was.

About five yards.

Georgia fans will roll the game's final play over and over in their minds for months to come, hoping somehow to freeze that awful moment in time and reverse the improbable play when a tipped pass fell into a receivers hands and time ran out on a glorious last-ditch charge.

It was a gut-wrenchingly hideous ending to an enthralling battle and one that shall surely never be forgotten -- and not just because of the game itself, the heart-warming valiance of those players in red and black or what was on the line.

With so many key seniors, and possibly plenty more underclassmen, set to take their leave and join the professional ranks, as well as the cessation of an incredibly favorable schedule, one wonders when another BCS opportunity will present itself so ripely in the near future.

True there are plenty of blue chips lining up to come to Athens, and coach Mark Richt seemed to find plenty of fire over the second half of this season -- and Richt is to be commended for his team's dynamite fightback following the South Carolina collapse. But opportunities like Saturday's have been rare indeed for Georgia through the years.

Which is why missing on this one is so painful.

Yes, I know this column is completely subjective, and that 'Bama fans may feel slighted after recording much to celebrate on Saturday. Congratulations to you. But there will be plenty more chances for the Tide. This one was Georgia's. And one wonders whether there will ever be another one quite like it.

The Bulldogs have much to be proud of, and we should also strive to remember the fight and effort they displayed on Saturday. But goodness it's going to take some time to get over that loss.
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