Power Ranking the Georgia Bulldogs 2013 Schedule from Easiest to Toughest
There is no doubt the Georgia Bulldogs will have to start fast this season because the first three of four opponents they face are contenders for the BCS National Championship.
So the start of the Bulldogs' schedule leaves no room for error, which is why there are some media experts saying that they could potentially not win the SEC East title.
But after the first four games of the season, many could argue the Bulldogs' schedule is not that daunting. They do have to face Florida at the beginning of November, but the rest of the teams the Bulldogs face don’t impose as much of a challenge as teams like Clemson or LSU.
Here is a power ranking of the Bulldogs' 2013 schedule from easiest to toughest.
No. 12: North Texas
North Texas finished with a 4-8 record last year and three of those wins came against its Conference USA opponents.
The Mean Green do have 13 starters returning, including quarterback Derek Thompson. So they have a chance to improve on their win total.
But the comparison of talent level for the Mean Green to the Bulldogs is night and day, and no matter how much improved North Texas is from last year, it should be a fairly easy win for the Bulldogs.
No. 11: Appalachian State
This will be the final year that Appalachian State plays in the FCS, so it's going to come out swinging against whoever it plays because it can’t compete in the FCS playoffs.
New head coach Scott Satterfield has a bunch of talented players to his disposal and his team will give its opponents fits all game long.
That said, the Mountaineers are like the Mean Green. They have good players, but they are not up to the level of the Bulldogs.
This should be another easy win for the Bulldogs, but they can’t and shouldn’t take App State lightly.
No. 10: Kentucky Wildcats
Kentucky has not been the same program since Rich Brooks left a few years ago. Joker Phillips could not get the job done so in comes Mark Stoops who has promised the fans an improved defense and a fast-paced offense.
The problem is the talent on the roster probably does not fit what Stoops wants to do on both sides of the ball, so the Wildcats could be in for a long season.
And because their schedule is one of the toughest in the conference, anything more than four wins would be considered a success.
No. 9: Missouri Tigers
2012 was the first season in the SEC for the Missouri Tigers, but it wasn’t a smooth transition as they finished with a 5-7 record.
The Tigers do have 15 starters returning, which never hurts, but it may take them another year to get used to the speed and the physicality of their SEC opponents.
And by that time, head coach Gary Pinkel could be out of a job. He already lost his longtime assistant and offensive coordinator David Yost. If Pinkel has another losing season, the officials at Missouri will seek another head coach in 2014.
No. 8: Tennessee Volunteers
Under new head coach Butch Jones, Tennessee looks to turn things around and be back on top of the SEC East.
The problem is there are a few question marks at some key positions.
The offensive line for the Vols should be strong. However, the backfield and the receivers will be new other than the running back spot.
The defense should be better under new coordinator John Jancek. The Vols are very experienced at linebacker as well as defensive line.
The Vols have a difficult schedule, so anything above six wins would make the fanbase happy.
No. 7: Auburn Tigers
Talent has never been a problem at Auburn. But despite winning a national title in 2010, former head coach Gene Chizik could not put his teams in position to win.
So former Auburn offensive coordinator and Arkansas State head coach Gus Malzahn takes over and the offense should be a lot better than it was last season, as it was near the bottom of conference and national rankings.
The defense should also be improved under new coordinator Ellis Johnson and with nine returning starters. Johnson looks to start with the defensive line and work his way into the secondary, which only had one interception last season.
Auburn will bring a lot of excitement this season, but talent and depth with other SEC teams could hurt it at the end of the day.
No. 6: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Ever since Mark Richt took over as the head coach of Georgia, Georgia Tech has had problems defeating its rivals.
After a subpar 2012 season, things are on the upward trend for the Yellow Jackets as they have 16 returning starters for the 2013 season.
However, in order to beat the Bulldogs and win the ACC title, quarterback Vad Lee has to be consistent. Lee could be the most talented quarterback in the Paul Johnson era and he could be the missing piece to get Tech over the hump.
If the Yellow Jackets can come away September and October unscathed, they have a chance to play for the ACC title for the second consecutive season.
No. 5: Vanderbilt Commordores
Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin has done something that no other coach has ever done at the school, and that’s make the team a contender.
After losing four of its first six games, the Vandy won seven consecutive games including a 38-24 win against NC State in the Music City Bowl.
The Commodores won nine games for the first time in nearly 100 years and it was the first winning record in the SEC since 1982. With seven returning starters on offense, six on defense and a very strong recruiting class, there is no reason the Commodores can’t repeat the same success in 2013.
No. 4: LSU Tigers
LSU had a disappointing 2012 season, as it finished with a 9-3 record. Things won’t be easier this season because the Tigers only return three starters on defense.
Does that mean the program is on the decline? Not exactly, because it has talent on defense led by linebacker Lamin Barrow, and with the new philosophy on offense, the Tigers should be able to score more points.
But a lot of their success depends on former Bulldog Zach Mettenberger, who only threw 12 touchdowns last season. If he can get things rolling, then the Tigers could win the SEC West.
No. 3: Florida Gators
The Florida Gators did not play their best against the Bulldogs last year, which is why they lost. But they still ended up with an 11-2 record and a Sugar Bowl appearance.
The Gators' M.O. under head coach Will Muschamp has been to play stellar on defense and run the ball effectively. They will be missing eight starters on defense, but DE Dominique Easley will provide strong leadership on and off the field.
QB Jeff Driskel is back and has to be better at throwing the ball downfield. The junior quarterback only threw for 1,646 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Because of the way the Gators play, they will make every game close. So they could end the season with an 11-1 record, or they could go 7-5.
No. 2: Clemson Tigers
As it was mentioned earlier, the Bulldogs will have to be on top of the game to start the season because they open their 2013 campaign at Clemson, who is the favorite to win the ACC.
If there is a team that has just as good of an offense as the Bulldogs, it would be the Tigers. Led by quarterback Tajh Boyd and receiver Sammy Watkins, the Tigers scored 41 points per game last year. Both players are back this season, along with four returning starters on the offensive line.
The defense improved as the 2012 season progressed and with seven starters returning, the Tigers should be one of the better units in the conference. Watch out for safety Travis Blanks who was a Freshman All-American last year.
This team has all the makings to win a national title. The question for the Tigers is can they put it all together and take the next step?
No. 1: South Carolina Gamecocks
One team that could stand in Clemson’s way is its in-state rival South Carolina, who has also gotten the better of the Bulldogs the last three years.
Despite losing running back Marcus Lattimore to the NFL, the Gamecocks still have defensive end Jadeveon Clowney who could very well win the Heisman if he has a season like he had in 2012 (13 sacks, 54 tackles).
The one thing to watch for is the quarterback position as head coach Steve Spurrier will rotate Connor Shaw and Dylan Thompson. If that is managed correctly along with the team getting production from running back Mike Davis, the offense will be more effective than it has been in the past.
And that will make the Gamecocks the most dangerous team the Bulldogs will face all season.