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

Randy ChambersAnalyst ISeptember 29, 2012

ATHENS, GA - SEPTEMBER 15:  Todd Gurley #3 of the Georgia Bulldogs celebrates his touchdown against the Florida Atlantic Owls with Aaron Murray #11 at Sanford Stadium on September 15, 2012 in Athens, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Before the season began, I had predicted that the Georgia Bulldogs would win the SEC. The team is experienced on both sides of the ball, they have one of the best quarterbacks in the country in Aaron Murray, the defense is stifling and the schedule was certainly easy to return to the SEC Championship Game.

Now, I'm not so sure the Bulldogs will even make it out of the SEC East.

Don't get me wrong, the team is still terrific. Murray is playing some of his football in his career, completing 66 percent of his passes and has thrown 10 touchdowns in just four games. Freshmen running backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall have combined for over 600 yards on the ground and nine touchdowns.

I also can't forget about the defense that has held opponents to a 30 percent conversation rate on third down, is averaging two sacks a game and has one of the best defensive players in the country in Jarvis Jones.

But while the defense looks solid, it can certainly be better with the additions of safety Bacarri Rambo and linebacker Alec Ogletree. Both have yet to play after being suspended, but according to the Savannah Morning News, they are likely to make their debuts today against Tennessee.

And with the defense likely to improve with those additions, the rest of the SEC East has been better than expected as well.

I did not expect Florida to have the running game that it has shown the last four games of the season, as Mike Gillislee is averaging nearly six yards a touch. Quarterback Jeff Driskel is completing a high percentage of his passes and gaining confidence by the week. And of course, the defense is allowing less than two touchdowns per contest.

South Carolina is beginning to hit its stride with offensive players such as Marcus Lattimore and Connor Shaw are just now getting their feet under them. Defensively, the Gamecocks are fourth in the SEC, have generated 14 sacks and have forced eight turnovers.

And while those may be the top three teams in the East, you can't forget about the Tennessee Volunteers. Sure, they didn't look terrific against Florida, but this is a team that can cause some fits in this division.

Quarterback Tyler Bray has been automatic in the red zone and has thrown for the most yards and touchdowns in the SEC. And the defense looks to be improved from a year ago, forcing nine turnovers in just four games.

Last season, it was the SEC west that looked to be the toughest division in college football. This year, that title may end up going to the other SEC division, as teams such as Auburn, Arkansas and even LSU at times have looked shaky.

With the schedule and favorable home games the Bulldogs have, Georgia should still be considered the favorites to come out of the east, but it is not as much of a lock as it once was.

We still need to see how this defense improves with two experienced players coming back and Georgia still has to play tougher competition. Sorry, Missouri and Vanderbilt are not going to get it done for a Top 5 team.

The first month of the college football season hasn't told us much about the contenders in the eastern division. But with conference play in full swing, we are about to learn everything we need to know about these Georgia Bulldogs.