Georgia is in the same position as it was in last year. It's the SEC East champion with a chance to defeat the SEC West champion in the conference title game.
However, even with a loss in that game, an 11-2 Bulldogs team, assuming they beat Georgia Tech in their regular-season finale, deserve to be in a BCS bowl game over any of the other at-large BCS qualifiers from the SEC.
Last year the Bulldogs couldn’t hold a halftime lead against LSU in the SEC title game and missed out on a trip to the Sugar Bowl as the SEC champion.
However, the impact of a potential loss in this year’s title game on the Bulldogs won't be as severe. That's because a year ago Georgia had more losses and was ranked lower in the BCS standings than this year's team. The relative weakness of the SEC this year compared to last also works in Georgia's favor.
Let's take a closer look.
For starters, Georgia's loss to LSU in the SEC title game a year ago ended a streak of eight straight wins and was its third loss of the season. Its other two losses came in its first two games— to No. 5 Boise State and No. 12 South Carolina.
In 2011, Georgia had no wins against teams in the top 15. This year, Georgia’s signature win came against No. 2 Florida.
Not only would a loss in the conference title game leave Georgia with more wins than it had a year ago when it finished with 10, it would be the first time the Bulldogs have won 11 games since 2007 when they played in the Sugar Bowl.
In addition to its record being better, Georgia was No. 16 when it played No. 1 LSU in last year’s SEC Championship Game.
In fact, Georgia didn’t crack the 2011 BCS standings until Week 9 when it entered at No. 22. The Bulldogs did steadily rise in the standings in every week following Week 9 until they lost to LSU and Michigan State in the Outback Bowl.
This year, if it wasn’t for Alabama's loss to Texas A&M last week, Georgia, assuming it beats Georgia Tech in its regular-season finale, would be the highest-ranked one-loss team at No. 5 in the BCS standings when it played for the conference championship.
The Bulldogs began this season No. 11 in the BCS standings, unlike last year when they were not ranked.
If they would happen to lose to Alabama, it would more than likely keep the Bulldogs inside the top-14 of the BCS standings, which would keep them eligible for an at-large selection.
UGA on a Different Level
And, finally, there is the decline in the overall strength of the SEC this year.
Last year, the top two teams in the BCS standings were Alabama and LSU.
This year, there are six teams in the top 10. However, except for Georgia, a closer look reveals those other teams' flaws.
Texas A&M seems to be everyone's favorite two-loss team, However, the Aggies gave up two second-half leads at home in losses to Florida and LSU.
Florida has not looked like a dominating team since its 44-11 victory over a then-No. 7 South Carolina team back on October 20th. Since then, the Gators have lost to Georgia while struggling to beat Missouri and Louisiana-Lafayette, who are a combined 10-9.
South Carolina did beat Georgia, However, shortly thereafter, the Gamecocks dropped two straight to LSU and Florida. Plus, they have a tough matchup on the road against No.11 Clemson to end their season. A loss will give them three and will kick them out of BCS bowl contention.
And then there is LSU.
Should the Bulldogs lose to Alabama, the Tigers pose the only threat to Georgia’s BCS at-large bowl hopes. Georgia lost to South Carolina while LSU defeated the Gamecocks. But Georgia beat Florida while LSU lost to the Gators.
More recently, Georgia won 38-0 at Auburn, while LSU struggled at Auburn, winning 12-10.
It would be a shame for a 11-2 team to be sent back to the Outback Bowl only to beat up on a bad Big Ten team. The BCS at-large selectors must take this Georgia team in one of their bowl games.