SEC Football: Think Georgia and Arkansas Are out of BCS Title Hunt? Think Again!
In the world of sports, there are few moments that compare to this time of year. Expectations are at a peak as several teams, fans, and coaching staffs have hopes that their team can hoist the next BCS crystal ball.
Can you smell the fresh-cut grass? Can you see the newly drawn lines around the football field? Can you see the dozens of college football preview magazines on full display at every grocery store and convenient store in your city?
Yes, the college football season is knocking on the door!
As you skim over the various preseason rankings, you will find the usual suspects. Each preseason ranking will display LSU, Alabama, USC and Oklahoma near the top with little fanfare for the other 21 teams. The truth is it will always be like this because preseason rankings are about selling magazines and newspapers.
This is not to discredit those teams because all four are ranked high in my preseason polls to be released on August 20th. However, the truth is, those four teams have as many question marks as the other 10 legitimate BCS title contenders this year.
Buried somewhere in your favorite preseason rankings will be two SEC teams that have received very little positive media this offseason in the University of Arkansas and the University of Georgia.
It is hard to disagree that the Razorbacks title hopes might have crashed harder than the motorcycle rode by Bobby Petrino and Jessica Dorrell.
Had Petrino not been fired, the Razorbacks were destined to have the most balanced offense in college football. With young-gun quarterback Tyler Wilson and stud running back Knile Davis returning, the sky was the limit for this Razorbacks team.
Many people falsely believe that Arkansas is a pass-happy offense. However, the Razorbacks under Petrino were the most difficult offense to prepare for in the SEC because of their balance.
Will that balance return without Petrino? Will the young offensive line continue to grow? Will the new wide receivers take the place of the talented seniors that are now departed? Only time will tell.
However, if the answer is yes to these three questions, do not count the Razorbacks out of the title hunt just yet.
Will either Arkansas or UGA make the BCS championship game?
Arkansas has their usual out-of-conference pee-wee football schedule mixed with the most dominant division in college football in the SEC West. However, the two games that they will be immediate underdogs in versus Alabama and LSU are both at home.
If the Razorbacks can even split those two games, the BCS championship game is not out of reach. Moreover, with their recent success against the Bayou Bengals, that is not an impossible task.
Had Petrino returned I would have picked Arkansas to win the West because of the changeover on with the Tigers and the Tide. Now? Time will tell, but it will take some luck.
Another team who had a rough offseason but still holds on to title hopes is the Georgia Bulldogs. The seemingly annual suspensions and departures for the Bulldogs team has put a dent in their stock but there is still much to be excited about.
The Bulldogs return nine starters on a defense that could be the nation's best and at worse is still a top five defensive unit. They return a junior quarterback who is on the verge of shattering every SEC passing record. Aaron Murray will have plenty of weapons at his disposal as the Bulldogs return five of their six leading receivers minus only tight end Orson Charles.
Because of their schedule, the Bulldogs have the easiest path paved for them to the SEC championship game of any other contender. They do have to replace both their punter and place kicker but that will not be the biggest hurdle.
The biggest hurdle will be the self-inflicted wounds. With the departure of SEC freshman of the year and leading rusher Isaiah Crowell, the Bulldogs will need early contributions from Ken Malcome, Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall.
All three running backs have looked exceptional in fall camp but Georgia does not have a proven running back for the fourth straight preseason.
Then there is the suspension of defensive back Sander Cummings and potential suspensions of All-American Baccari Rambo and linebacker Alec Ogletree. These suspensions could be disastrous for the Bulldogs who go on the road to face the Missouri Tigers during week two.
The BCS title is there for the taking, but did Georgia knock themselves out of the hunt?
I have UGA ranked No. 4 in my preseason poll and Arkansas No. 9. However, both have a legit shot at No. 1.
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