At the beginning of each season, Mark Richt and the Georgia Bulldogs set a list of goals for themselves to accomplish by the end of the year.
Goals such as going undefeated and playing for the national title, playing in a BCS bowl, winning the SEC championship, winning the SEC East and the list goes on.
With each week of the season, you either continue moving towards No. 1 or you start to scratch the goals off that are no longer attainable. With the loss to South Carolina, the undefeated season was scratched off the list. The loss to Arkansas scratched off the National Title goal.
Even after four straight losses several goals were still attainable, including winning the SEC and playing in the BCS.
But with the 34-31 OT loss to the Florida Gators on Saturday, the Georgia Bulldogs can now officially cross out the SEC championship, the BCS bowl, and the SEC East championship.
Is there anything left to play for this season? Should the Bulldogs start to prepare for 2011?
2011 will be a year where the Georgia Bulldogs will set up for a possible National Title run for several reasons.
1) The Schedule —Gone are the cross country trips and tough out of conference games, in are Louisville, Coastal Carolina and New Mexico State.
Their SEC schedule also sets up nicely with Ole Miss, Tennessee, Vandy and Kentucky all set to have so-so years once again to go along with seven out of Georgia's twelve games being played between the hedges, including the South Carolina, Miss State and Auburn games.
2) Starting Depth Chart —Even though the Dawgs will lose talent on both sides of the ball, they will also bring back eight or nine players on offense and defense that are or have been starters at Georgia.
The offense will more than likely be with out A.J. Green (The only thing Georgia fans can hope for is a lockout in the NFL in 2011 so that Green could stay for his senior year) and Kris Durham at wide outs but players such as Tavarres King, Rantavious Wooten, Logan Gray, Israel Troupe and Marlon Brown have all played the last few years and will be looking to step up to the challenge.
The Dawgs will have Aaron Murray, WaShaun Ealey, Caleb King and Carlton Thomas also returning in the backfield with their sights on improving how the Dawgs moved the ball this season.
Even though two starters (Clint Boling and Josh Davis) will be gone off an offensive line who will consist of all seniors next season. Former starters, Trinton Sturdivant and Tanner Strickland, will fill the holes left by Boling and Davis with out the team missing a beat.
Defensively the Dawgs will lose seniors DeMarcus Dobbs, Darryl Gamble, and Akeem Dent. Even though these players will be missed, coach Todd Grantham has rotated players in and out all year long giving the back ups just as much playing time as the starters.
3) Bye Week - The 2010 season has provided the longest stretch before a bye week in years. The Dawgs bye week is the week before their rivalry game with Georgia Tech, the 12th game of the year.
In 2011, the bye week will be where it should be, in front of the Florida game. Georgia needs to be able to be fresh and healthy when they play the Gators and the best way to accomplish this is for the bye week to be before this game.
Should the Dawgs worry about any of this now?
I say NO!!
Georgia still has a few more things on their list that they can play for during the 2010 season.
1) Auburn Game —Georgia can still win out and finish the season 8-5. They would have to defeat Idaho State, Auburn and Georgia Tech during the remainder of the regular season and then win the bowl game to accomplish this feat.
This would also keep Georgia's streak of at least eight wins in a season going at 13 straight years.
Also, how special would it be to go into Jordan-Hare Stadium and beat No. 2 ranked Auburn, in its house, to ruin their National Title hopes?
2) Bowl Game and Winning Record —To accomplish this Georgia has to defeat Idaho State and either Auburn or Georgia Tech. If they are able to win two out of their final three games they will finish the regular season 6-6 and will be offered a lower tier bowl invitation with the chance to finish the year 7-6.
However this year ends, Georgia should never concede the rest of their season just to focus on the next.
My bet is that the Dawgs pull together, win out and finish 8-5.