Tennessee vs Georgia: Are Bulldogs Legit SEC East Favorites or Still an Unknown?

Brian JonesContributor ISeptember 27, 2012

ATHENS, GA - SEPTEMBER 22: Todd Gurley #3 and Jarvis Jones #29 of the Georgia Bulldogs celebrate after the game against the Vanderbilt Commodores at Sanford Stadium on September 22, 2012 in Athens, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

When Georgia takes the field on Saturday to face the Tennessee Volunteers, many Bulldogs fans will be convinced that they will see their team win with ease and move on to the next opponent.

That is likely true, because the Bulldogs are a 14-point favorite and come into the game with a lot of momentum after dismantling Vanderbilt 48-3 last Saturday. But even if the Bulldogs do take care of the Vols, are they the SEC East favorites, or do they have more to prove next week when they face South Carolina?

One thing to remember is the Bulldogs are the defending SEC Champions and almost all the players that were on last year’s team is back for another shot at the SEC title, including Aaron Murray and Jarvis Jones.

That being said, the Bulldogs did lose to South Carolina last year, and they ended up only a game behind the Bulldogs when the regular season came to an end. The Gamecocks probably felt like they should have been in the SEC title game, and it looks like they could be the team that could take the SEC East crown this year.

But when it comes down to it, the Bulldogs have so much going for them. Not only is the schedule in their favor, their star players are playing at a high level. Murray has thrown for 10 touchdowns, which is second in the SEC, and has an efficiency rating of 182.4, which is also second in the SEC. Jones is fourth in the SEC with 4.5 sacks and is also second in the conference in tackles for loss with 7.5.

Last year, there was much talk about the Dream Team and how they were able to lead Georgia back to the Georgia Dome for the first time since 2005. There has been no Dream Team in 2012, but Keith Marshall and Todd Gulrey have been two very dynamic freshmen. Marshall has three rushing touchdowns and has averaged 66 yards per game. Gurley leads the SEC in rushing with 406 yards and has six touchdowns so far this year.

As far as the defense goes, they will be at full strength on Saturday, as Alec Ogletree and Bacarri Rambo are expected to make their 2012 debut. The defense was solid without the two, so it will be interesting to see how many snaps Ogletree and Rambo will get on Saturday.

The Bulldogs have the talent and experience to make another run at the SEC title game. So are they legit SEC East contenders? All fingers are pointing to yes. They are the No. 5 team in the nation, they have averaged 47 points per game so far this season and show no signs of slowing down.

Tennessee will give everything they have on Saturday, but the Bulldogs will likely pull away because of their depth and experience. The real test for the Bulldogs will be the following week when they travel to Columbia to face the Gamecocks. If people still have doubts about the Bulldogs being an SEC East contender, that question will be answered on October 6 at 10:30 p.m.