If there’s one thing the Georgia Bulldogs demonstrated over the past two weeks, it’s that a few games can drastically change an entire season’s outlook. Following back-to-back losses to SEC East counterparts Missouri and Vanderbilt, the Dawgs have fallen from seventh in both the AP and Coaches poll to unranked.
The Bulldogs are certainly down, but are they out? As far as today’s first BCS Poll is concerned, the answer is yes - at least for now.
Where Georgia Stands
Despite largely surviving a brutal early-season slate that featured three games against Top 10 opponents, the Bulldogs have fallen from a once lofty ranking and a 4-1 record to 4-3 overall as injuries, fatigue and inexperience have taken their toll.
Here’s how Georgia currently stacks up.
|Record||AP Poll||Coaches Poll||Strength of Schedule||BCS Poll|
Biggest Obstacles to a BCS Berth
For Georgia to reach a BCS Bowl, the Bulldogs must win the Southeastern Conference. The Dawgs have shown plenty of promise at times, but with injuries to the majority of the offense’s playmakers and a young defense that has not yet developed, it’s hard to determine Georgia’s true identity.
If Georgia can get healthy and return to being a semblance of the team that lost a hard-fought game at Clemson before defeating both South Carolina and LSU, then this team still has a lot of upside. However, if injuries continue to limit personnel and poor execution continues to disrupt momentum, this Georgia team may end up beating itself more often than not.
To be sure, the Florida Gators and the Auburn Tigers pose very real threats to Georgia’s chances in the SEC race. The rivalry game with the Gators in two weeks is always highly contested, regardless of teams’ records. And, Auburn has returned to prominence much more quickly than anticipated.
Nonetheless, health concerns on offense and maturity of a young defense remain the biggest obstacles for Georgia moving forward.
If Georgia can get past Florida on November 2nd, the Bulldogs will hold crucial tie-breakers over both the Gators and the South Carolina Gamecocks. Heading into the season that seemed to be the key to winning the SEC East for a third consecutive year. Unfortunately, like so many other preseason expectations for the Dawgs, that assumption has proved to be false.
The Missouri Tigers are 3-0 in the SEC East and hold an added advantage over the Dawgs thanks to a Mizzou win in Athens last weekend. For Georgia to even get back to Atlanta for the SEC Championship, Missouri must give the Dawgs some help. Assuming Georgia finds a way to win out, Missouri must drop three conference games from a slate that features South Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, Ole Miss and Texas A&M.
From a polling standpoint, Georgia can return to prominence if South Carolina and LSU can get back on track by continuing to win games. If Georgia can defeat Florida and Auburn and the wins against South Carolina and LSU are viewed in a more favorable light, the Bulldogs may once again be favored by the human voters and the computers.
|November 9||Appalachian State|
|November 16||at Auburn|
|November 30||at Georgia Tech|
The Big Picture
Right now, Georgia’s difficult schedule has proven to be detrimental to the Bulldogs success. Had Georgia drawn a more manageable season opener and somehow avoided a hot Missouri team, the Bulldogs could be 6-1 at this juncture. Of course, that doesn’t explain yesterday’s loss to Vanderbilt, but two fewer losses would serve the Bulldogs well.
However, if Georgia can get back to its winning ways, losses to Top 10 teams like Clemson and Missouri may prove to be less damaging. And, if the Bulldogs find a way back to Atlanta for a matchup with the winner of the SEC West, they will get one final chance to prove themselves against truly elite competition.
Final Bowl Prediction
Georgia trails Missouri by two games in conference record and the Tigers hold an edge in head-to-head competition. Combine all of that with a Bulldog trajectory that is trending down and decisively upward Missouri momentum, and it’s hard to anticipate Georgia sneaking back into the SEC Championship Game.
With a shot at a conference championship dwindling and three losses already notched against them, Georgia’s BCS Bowl chances have largely faded away. Instead, the Bulldogs may be bound for a matchup with the Big Ten in either the Outback Bowl or the Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl.