England lost to Iceland yesterday. Their performance was a disgrace. It was, in many ways, true to form. Only losing on penalties could have made it more “England.” One could see the weight of anxiety and past ineptitude take hold.
That result begged the question, at least around our virtual water cooler, about which school is the “England” of college football. We could break down knockout points and figure out a way to run a cross-analysis. But, no math is required. There is a simple, clear answer: Georgia.
Both have a stupid amount of talent. England tends to be well stocked. In a tournament crying out for true center forwards, England had Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy, and Daniel Sturridge. England’s disappointing 2006 World Cup team played 11 players with Champions League winner medals against Portugal.
Georgia is in a similar position. The Bulldogs have averaged sending 5.67 players drafted over the past nine years. They have had first round picks at running, back, at wide receiver, and at various pass rushing positions. Until last year, they enjoyed a solid decade of competent quarterback play. That’s not counting the talented Georgia players booted for off-field indiscretions stocking other rosters.
Both England and Georgia achieve little with that talent.
Both are never that bad. England have the odd epic fail. But, most cycles they qualify well. They are a solid bet to reach tournaments and to proceed through to the knockout stages. In most groups, they enter as favorites. Georgia seldom inspires. But, they normally get to a decent bowl game.
" Kane equalises with an incredible 40-yard screamer pic.twitter.com/r6eOvi85M5 — Terje (@GoonerTerje) June 27, 2016 "
Both are never that good. England won the 1966 World Cup. They have been to a couple semifinals since. Georgia won the national championship in 1980. They have won the odd SEC title otherwise. England have one knockout win in regulation since the 1990 World Cup (1-0 over Ecuador in 2006). Georgia averaged four losses and failed to reach a BCS bowl game under Mark Richt from 2008 onward.
Both come up short when it counts. England have their myriad of penalty defeats and blown chances. Bonafide wins against quality opponents are rare, and come almost always on home soil. Georgia’s record against Florida, South Carolina, and Tennessee when those schools are decent? Not good. When Kentucky and Vanderbilt have popped up every so often? Beaten Georgia. That’s before we get to the stats against ranked opponents.
Both suffer the odd catastrophic loss (or flirt with one). England has two of the worst losses in World Cup history, to Iceland and to the United States in 1950. Georgia lost to a Dan Hawkins Colorado team in 2009 (and nearly lost at home to his 2-10 team in 2006). The Bulldogs went to overtime with Georgia Southern last year.
England and Georgia present the identical conundrum. The teams look loaded on paper. A soft group and bracket projection or a soft schedule gets the thoughts percolating. They are never quite bad enough to put you off. They enter almost every game as favorites. It won’t be the year. But, you can’t help thinking it might be.