Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall Make Georgia a Legit BCS Title Contender

Barrett SalleeSEC Football Lead WriterSeptember 29, 2012

ATHENS, GA - SEPTEMBER 29: Todd Gurley #3 and Keith Marshall #4 of the Georgia Bulldogs head off the field after the game against the Tennessee Volunteers at Sanford Stadium on September 29, 2012 in Athens, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Don't book those tickets to Miami just yet, Georgia Bulldogs fans. But maybe it's time to start looking at prices.

If it does get to the point where Georgia is playing for the crystal football in Miami Gardens on Jan. 7, 2013, you can thank freshmen running backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall for the trip.

Marshall rushed for 164 yards and two touchdowns, and Gurley rushed for 130 yards and three touchdowns in Georgia's 51-44 win over Tennessee on Saturday afternoon in Athens.

The fact that Georgia has two talented running backs isn't why Georgia is a national title contender. The Bulldogs have had plenty of talented running backs in the past. But it's the big-play ability of both of the freshmen phenoms that makes Georgia a very dangerous football team.

Freshman Isaiah Crowell was fantastic for the Bulldogs last season en route to SEC Freshman of the Year honors from the Associated Press. But he only had six rushing plays of more than 20 yards.

Gurley already has eight this season, and Marshall has five of his own.

That's strong.

Both players look capable of carrying the load by themselves, but the fact that they will split time, stay fresh, can play the ground control game and hit home runs from anywhere on the field makes Georgia a legitimate BCS national title contender.

What's that? Georgia's defense was awful against Tennessee and no team can win like that? 

Ask Auburn how that worked out for the Tigers in 2010.

The return of safety Bacarri Rambo allowed Georgia to move Sanders Commings back to cornerback and, thus, cornerback Malcolm Mitchell back to wide receiver on more of a full-time basis, giving offensive coordinator Mike Bobo just one more weapon to use.

That, coupled with the return of linebacker Alec Ogletree, should solidify the Georgia defense down the stretch.

It's too talented not to get better.

Georgia looks like a title contender now in spite of its defense due to the big-play ability of Gurley and Marshall.

When that defense gets going...look out.