Georgia Football: Are the Bulldogs Really a Top-10 Team?
Back in 2008, Georgia was ranked No. 1 before the season began, but did not live up to expectations as they lost three games, including to Georgia Tech in Athens.
Since then, the Bulldogs have not gotten as much love in the rankings. In fact, they ended the season unranked in 2009 and 2010.
But this time the Bulldogs are back in the rankings spotlight, as ESPN College Gameday came out with their preseason top 25 and have the Bulldogs at No. 6. This is not much of a surprise, especially since the Bulldogs won 10 games last year and have almost everyone coming back.
But are the Bulldogs really a top 10 team? Are there only five teams better than the Bulldogs in the country?
There are a few factors to consider to figure out why the Bulldogs are considered a Top 10 team.
First, and probably the most importantly, is the returning starters. On offense, the Bulldogs are replacing five starters, including three on the offensive line. But Aaron Murray is expected to have a 2012 season to remember and the running game is expected to be better with new signees, Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley.
If the offensive line is able to hold up, then everything else will fall in place.
On defense, the Bulldogs will have everyone back from last year except DeAngelo Tyson, who is now in the NFL. The only problem is the secondary is riddled with suspensions, so the front seven will have to work extra hard during the early stages of the season to have the same type of success they had last year.
Another thing to look at is the key players.
Media experts like the Bulldogs this year because of Murray and Jarvis Jones. If any two players are going to win national awards this year, it will be those two, especially Jones who could be the best linebacker in the country. In order for the Bulldogs to have the success they desire, Murray and Jones will have to be on top of their game week in and week out.
Where will Georgia be ranked at the end of the 2012 season?
The schedule also plays a factor in the Bulldogs success. Like last year, the schedule sets up nicely for the Bulldogs to win over 10 games. The only team that Bulldogs will face that won over nine games last year is South Carolina (Georgia Southern did win 11 games last year, but let’s not count FCS teams for the sake of this argument).
The Bulldogs went on a 10-game winning streak last season with the similar schedule, but they don’t have to face Boise State this year and they will face South Carolina with a team that should have all its suspended players back (hopefully).
The one game that should concern fans though is Missouri.
On paper, Georgia is the better team, but because that game will be the Tigers’ first ever SEC game, emotions will be running high and Mark Richt has to be sure his players are physically and mentally ready for the atmosphere.
What it comes down to is the Bulldogs are looked at as a top-10 team because they have all the tools to compete for a national title. They have a solid quarterback, an aggressive defense and a schedule that gives them an opportunity to win 10-11 games. There are some fans that don’t like the Bulldogs ranked high because they feel like the Bulldogs play better when there is no hype.
That may be true, but when you have a season like they did last year, experts are going to give that team some love the following season if that team looks ready to take that next step.
So get ready Bulldog Nation, because if everything goes well, it should be a season to remember. But if they fall coming out of the gates, 2012 will just be another year where high hopes turned into broken dreams.
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