After Georgia claimed their Sugar Bowl trophy this past January, the entire nation seemed to jump on the Bulldog Bandwagon. But while Georgia certainly has the talent and the coach to win the national championship, here are five reasons why they will not.
1.) The Hype
Riding the wave of their monster win over Hawaii, seemingly every pundit tabbed Georgia as the next dynasty, and several have projected Georgia to win this year’s title. The Bulldogs now have a huge target on their backs—and everyone will look to give them their best shot, including a handful of teams with payback on their minds.
2.) The Schedule
I’ve looked at this schedule what feels like a million times. And there just isn’t any way around it: this is a gauntlet.
The much ballyhooed early season game at Arizona State has been widely publicized already.
And not only do the always formidable East opponents await the Bulldogs, Georgia also has to face off against tough West opponents Alabama, Auburn, and LSU. Ironically, these are the three West teams Florida had to face during their championship season.
Georgia really gets only two “breaks” in the schedule: a bye week before the Tennessee game and what will probably be a mediocre Georgia Tech team for their season finale.
Other than that, it’s ugly. Lots of tough road games, and lots of teams looking for redemption. Speaking of which…
You can bet Urban Meyer will be showing Georgia’s celebratory dance from last year a few times. Florida was humiliated in that game, and revenge—plus a loaded offense—will roll into Jacksonville after a home game against Kentucky. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs must travel to Baton Rouge the week before.
Recent rival history is not on Georgia’s side either. Richt is 2-5 against Florida, the Gators have won 15 of the last 18, and the last time Georgia won this game in back-to-back years was in 1988-1989.
4.) Inexperience in Big Games
It might sound strange, and I’m sure Bulldog fans will take offense, but Georgia really didn’t have too many big wins last year—and they were dangerously inconsistent.
They barely escaped Alabama with an OT win, and they struggled to put away Troy and Kentucky in back-to-back weekends.
Remember, this team did not even win the East last year. Too much has been made about their wins over Florida’s suspect defense, an unpredictable Auburn team, and a completely overmatched Hawaii team.
On top of that, the Bulldogs were beaten at home by South Carolina. Tennessee destroyed them, and, if not for a Vanderbilt fumble—deep in Georgia territory, no less—the Bulldogs would have left Nashville 0 for the state of Tennessee.
5.) Brandon Coutu
Coutu was about as reliable as you can ask of a college kicker. He never missed a PAT in his entire career, and he nailed every attempt 39 yards or closer last season. He also came up with several clutch, late-game kicks. The Seattle Seahawks thought enough of him to select him in this year’s draft.
Now Georgia must replace him with an inexperienced kicker, never an easy task, especially considering that the Bulldogs appear to be in for several close games.
Overall, I see Georgia winding up with two SEC losses and missing out on the SEC Championship game, this time to Florida, whose schedule is much more manageable.
And that’s the catch with the SEC. I’m not convinced that Florida is a better team in any way, but with the way the SEC rotation works, Florida now faces West teams LSU, Ole Miss, and Arkansas—a much easier task than Georgia’s three contests.
All that said, Georgia is an extremely talented team and should be fun to watch in 2008. If Stafford can find the consistency he lacks and Moreno can build on last year, who knows what can happen.
After all, they said Florida’s schedule would prevent them from winning in 2006-2007—and things turned out all right for the Gators.