Georgia Bulldogs: The Big Picture and Dare I Say…the National Championship


A few weeks ago all hell was breaking lose if you listened to the vocal minority (or maybe majority) of Georgia Bulldogs fans.  Georgia had suffered an embarrassing 35-7 loss to the South Carolina Gamecocks and many couldn’t even be talked off the ledge as they were too busy trying to push Mark Richt off of it first!

In contrast to that seemingly popular panic I wrote (in my most-commented-on article of all-time, most comments coming from dissenting readers) that “in the grand scheme of things, the score [of the South Carolina loss] doesn’t matter, it was a loss to South Carolina that can be overcome.”  For Georgia to overcome this setback I pointed out that the following two things needed to happen:

  • South Carolina needed to lose to Florida or lose two other games – something that there was a historical precedent for (dating back several seasons) and something that came to fruition as the Cocks lost to LSU and Florida.
  • Georgia needed to beat Florida – an assumption that I deemed plausible as I felt the Carolina loss was an outlier and I believed that Georgia was more experienced and more talented than Florida.  That came to be.

Thanks for believing in me, DudeYouCrazy.

It’s hard to believe that we are only those two measly steps removed from doomsday, or at least Richtageddon as some wanted to believe. Georgia is now sitting on a 7-1 overall record and 5-1 in the conference.  The Bulldogs have four games remaining with conference matchups against Ole Miss (at home) and Auburn (on the road) preceding home dates with FCS Georgia Southern and 21-points-inferior-to-MTSU Georgia Tech.  Ole Miss poses the biggest threat (at least on paper and from where I’m sitting at my non-film-evaluating job) and despite being a trendy upset pick this week the Rebels opened as 16-point underdogs against the Dawgs.  Yes, Georgia has to take care of business (more on that forthcoming), but barring a disaster the Bulldogs will roll to the Georgia Dome as the SEC East Champs with an 11-1 record (11 wins has only happened 8 other times in the program’s history that I can think of – 2007, 2003, 2002, 1982, 1980, 1971, 1946, 1942) and a top-5 BCS ranking.

That’s the grand summary of where we’ve been and the general outlook.  But how, more specifically is that going to play out, and what is the ceiling for this team?

Regular Season 

Although there’s nothing on paper to indicate a pending struggle (yes, that’s why you play the games though) with Ole Miss, Auburn or Tech (I’ll respectfully skip over Georgia Southern and work on the assumption that a late-season version of App State/Michigan is unlikely), Georgia can’t afford to merely win those games.  Georgia needs to dominate those games.

I predicted, rightfully so, that the “switch” would get flipped on Georgia’s defense against the Florida Gators.  Now that they’re turned on they need to stay on.  Georgia can ill-afford another shootout this season and momentum – which is at a premium this late in the season – is going to be requisite for post-season success.  Georgia has the talent – more than I even have time to name – and the coaching, now they must maintain that intensity.  By the end of last season the Dawgs’ defense was playing with a swagger that resembled the old Junkyard Dawgs defenses.  They started to get that back against Florida, but that type of confidence needs to be built upon to fully develop.  Ole Miss is averaging 32 points per game – I’d like to see them held to 14 or fewer.  Auburn and should be kept under 10 (for the second consecutive year) and Georgia Tech under 17.  And, those figures are all minimal requirements.  10, 7 and 10 is doable.

Offensively the Bulldogs need to tighten up.  I think a lot of people liked the idea of a high-powered Georgia offense, and I admittedly bought into it.  Frankly, the Dawgs needed that to survive with a struggling defense.  But that isn’t who Georgia is.  Georgia doesn’t need Aaron Murray to force passes (which he has done in his last three games but managed to do successfully only once, against Kentucky).  Georgia doesn’t need to force runs up the middle (especially not with Keith Marshall – a speed back who is deadly on a toss sweep).  What Georgia needs is for the offense to enter each game, play mistake-free and stick to a game plan.  Ole Miss is a middle-of-the-pack defense both against the pass and the run, so I want to see Bobo call a truly balanced game.  Auburn is giving up over 213 yards per game on the ground, I’d like to see the Dawgs run the ball 40 times.  Georgia Tech is giving up over 260 yards in the air, so Murray should pass the ball a little more.

If the defense can dominate and the offense can take what’s available – rather than forcing what they think might catch a team off-guard – the Bulldogs can win their last few games by big margins.

Post-Season 

If the Bulldogs can do that they’ll head to the Dome with a top-5 ranking to take on either Alabama or LSU.  It’s too soon to analyze either of those teams as they relate to the Bulldogs (because we don’t even know which it will be, and it could theoretically be Mississippi State – wouldn’t we love that?),  but I don’t think either team is as dominant as their respective 2011 squads were.  LSU’s offense is even worse and they still haven’t found a playmaker to replace Tyrann Mathieu (that’s a big reason why they’re not in the nation’s top-50 in scoring despite being in the top-10 in defense and dominating time of possession).  Alabama is certainly impressive, but remains relatively untested as several opponents that were thought to have value in the preseason have declined in credibility – Michigan opened the season ranked 8th and is now unranked at 5-3, Arkansas opened the season ranked 10th and is now 3-5 with embarrassing losses to teams like Louisiana-Monroe and Rutgers on their schedule, and Missouri and Tennessee have proved to be bottom-of-the-pack SECers, not rising programs.

But although it is early to predict this game, I’m confident in saying the Georgia Bulldogs will be an underdog in the SEC Championship – assuming all goes to plan and they get there.  And, if that is the case I think it is in Georgia’s best interest to hope for the undefeated team (Alabama, pending a win over LSU) as the opponent as the upset of the Crimson Tide would do more to bolster Georgia’s résumé relative to the BCS National Championship Game and a loss to the nation’s undisputed #1 would do less damage heading into Bowl selections.

Everyone would have thought DudeYouCrazy needed to be institutionalized if I had said this immediately following the South Carolina game, but this is all that now stands between Georgia and a National Championship Game appearance:

  • Four wins over teams that will most-likely all be 16+ point underdogs
  • An upset against either an Alabama (who as of today holds a win against Mississippi State, who I still think will drop out of the top-25) as its top win, or an LSU team (who lost to Florida – a team Georgia beat).

Do those scenarios sound far-fetched?  Maybe so.  But do you think they’re less-likely than the two conditions Georgia needed to win the SEC East following the loss to South Carolina?  I personally am not sure, but I was also in the minority that was confident even as the Red and Black world seemed to crumble on October 7th and 8th.

There’s still a lot of season left and I’m thankful for that.  I don’t think we’ve seen Georgia’s best football yet.  And that should be a little bit scary for the Alabama and LSU’s of the world, although I hope they’re not even noticing.

Settings

That’s all I got/

Andrew

About dudeyoucrazy

College Football Writer

Posted on October 31, 2012, in Blog, Georgia Bulldogs, SEC. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Andrew, not trying to burst your bubble here, but I do not think UGA will be in the NC game even if they blow out BAMA in the SECCG. Here’s why: you will most likely have at least two undefeated teams (ND and/or Oregon, KState), ahead of them in the polls. Most likely all 3 of those will be undefeated. ND and Oregon both play the real USC, so I guess all DAWG fans need to be Kiffin fans for at least a month. KState could slip up as they have a couple of games that could challenge them left. But as I have posted on other sites, here is my nightmare scenario. Say LSU slips by BAMA this weekend similar to last year, low scoring field goal game. UGA plays LSU in the SECCG and somehow finds a way to win this year. The talking heads at ESPN (who know everything about college football by the way), will lobby that a 1 loss BAMA team is “much” better than a 1 loss UGA team (who was lucky to beat UF and was demolished by USCe). According to the TH @ ESPN, BAMA is the best team ever; could probably beat the Green Bay Packers in the Super Bowl. Besides that, a 1 loss ND; Oregon; KState are so much better than a 1 loss UGA team. So, they put BAMA (who did not win their conference or even their division) back in the NC game against one of the other three (I still don’t understand why Herbstreit’s logic of 2007 did not apply in 2012). Or, should UGA play BAMA in the SECCG and win, they will argue that one of the aforementioned three are better than UGA, especially if 2 of them are undefeated. The rest of the college football world would love nothing else than to exclude the SEC from the big game and ESPN will find a way to make that happen unless BAMA wins out. I think the only way UGA has a chance at the big game is to win the next four games convincingly (3+ TD margin), and then hammer BAMA in the SECCG. That may be enough for us to jump an undefeated team ahead of us, unless it is ND. If they remain undefeated they will continue to move up although they really have not played but one or two tough games. I have been avidly watching college football for over 45 years, especially the DAWGS, and it seems to me that a 1 loss UGA team does not get the same respect as a 1 loss BAMA, UF, ND, USC, or OK. Those are just a few of the media darlings that are deemed NC in the pre-season and are automatically in the big game if they win out, regardless of schedule. It has always been an uphill battle for UGA with no margin for error. I enjoy your blog as you seem to be a realist like myself. I just don’t see UGA getting to the big game regardless of how the season plays out.

    • Thanks for reading and thanks for the great comment. Very good thoughts. I’m currently working on a dialogue along these lines with Ryan from Gotta Support ‘Em. I’d encourage you to check back and get his thoughts on the matter and some more of mine later. Again, thanks for reading.

    • Well except for the fact that ok already has 2 losses and we would have beaten both uf and bama head to head–you are correct that the cfb world will be pulling against the sec-this is why i did not buy into Bretts idea of a UGA vs uf rematch

  2. Nice going DYC. Could not agree more on the game plan for this Saturday. Run the ball a lot with Gurley and Malcome (where is he/is he in penalty box for something?). Use Marshall for screens and play action. NOT – shotgun with a telegraph we are pitching to him for an attempt up the middle. Has not worked and will not work. Remember Malcome in the GT game last year. Really like him in the 4th qtr eating up clock at 3-4 yds per carry. GO DOGS!!

  3. great stuff here Andrew !

  1. Pingback: Winning Out Doesn’t Guarantee Georgia a Slot in the National Championship « DudeYouCrazy

  2. Pingback: Georgia vs. Ole Miss Game Preview: The UGLY Truth(s) « DudeYouCrazy

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: