You know the old adage. "Nobody goes undefeated in the SEC." Alabama hasn't during its past two national championship runs. Neither did Florida during either of its championships. It's expected that SEC teams will lose at least one game every year.
It's not only a function of their tough conference, but the rivalries and out-of-conference games they maintain. Florida plays Florida State every year. South Carolina plays Clemson, and Georgia typically plays a tough out-of-conference game. This year, it was Clemson.
Plenty of people thought the loss to Clemson took Georgia out of the national title race. They were wrong specifically because of that old adage. You can lose one game as an SEC team and voters won't hold it against you. Especially when that loss comes to the No. 4 team in the country. You get plenty of chances to prove your worth, and Georgia did just that against No. 6 South Carolina.
Is Georgia a national title contender?
Yes, the Gamecocks kept it close, and yes, Jadeveon Clowney made a few plays, but by beating a team as good as South Carolina,Georgia proved what many have doubted during Mark Richt's time in Athens: The Bulldogs can beat elite teams.
In doing so, they firmly planted themselves into the National Championship Race. And now that they've beaten South Carolina, they might have overcome their toughest obstacle.
A cursory glance at Georgia's schedule offers a promising future for the Bulldogs. No Alabama. No Texas A&M. LSU at home. A weakened Florida. This in not your typical SEC slate.
LSU is the biggest challenge remaining. With Cam Cameron at the helm of the offense, Zach Mettenberger looks like a whole new quarterback. The defense remains sturdy, and with Les Miles running the show, trick plays are always a possibility.
But the Bulldogs are a veteran team. They're just as talented as LSU and get to play them at home. At the very least, they'll be favored against LSU, just like they will against Florida. The Gators came into the season with high expectations, but doubters rejoiced today as they choked away a winnable game against Miami.
Now Florida, with Georgia, South Carolina, LSU and Florida State waiting in the wings (not to mention a potential SEC title game), is seemingly out of the chase.
The pathway is clear. Beat LSU and Florida and the rest of the path is simple. Then take advantage of a presumed rematch with Alabama. If they can beat the Tide, they'll be playing for the whole darn thing.