Georgia Bulldogs Football: Why Georgia Has to Win the SEC East in 2011

John SmithCorrespondent IIMay 8, 2011

ATHENS, GA - NOVEMBER 27:  The Georgia Bulldogs enter the field to face the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Sanford Stadium on November 27, 2010 in Athens, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

ATHENS, GA – The Georgia Bulldogs ended a disappointing 2010 season with the first losing season in the Mark Richt era. As the 2011 season approaches there is no other way to put it, the results have to change.

Georgia needs to win the SEC East because the alternatives don’t look good for Bulldog fans.

If South Carolina wins the East, Steve Spurrier and the Gamecocks will play in Atlanta for the second year in a row.

If Florida wins it, Will Muschamp will lead the Gators to Atlanta in his first year as head coach.

If Tennessee wins it, Derek Dooley will lead the Volunteers to the Georgia Dome in his second year as head coach.

If Kentucky or Vanderbilt makes it, well then Kentucky and Vanderbilt make it. No further explanation needed.

Plain and simple, the Georgia Bulldogs need to win the SEC East and play in Atlanta. It doesn’t matter if they win that game; they need to make a second trip to the Georgia Dome in the 2011 season.

The schedule sets up well for the Bulldogs to make a run, as long as they can get past those first two games—Boise State in Atlanta Week 1 and South Carolina in Athens Week 2.

Although the game against the Broncos won’t affect the Bulldog’s chances to get to the SEC Championship, the home opener against the Gamecocks will decide the Bulldogs fate.

Winning the East isn’t too much to ask for of this 2011 Bulldog team. Although the Bulldogs lost A.J. Green and Justin Houston to the NFL  draft, Georgia has the best returning quarterback in the SEC in Aaron Murray, and the defense will be better in Todd Grantham’s second year.

In addition to Murray and the improved defense, the Bulldogs have a  "Dream Team" coming to Athens over the summer lead by Isaiah Crowell and Ray Drew.

The Bulldogs also have one of the easier schedules in the SEC. Georgia does not have to play arguably the top three teams in the conference: Alabama, LSU and Arkansas.

The Bulldogs only play four times outside of the state of Georgia, and two of those games are against Vanderbilt and Ole Miss. The other games include a visit to Knoxville, Tenn. to play the Volunteers and a trip to Jacksonville to play Florida Gators.

Outside of the home opener against South Carolina, the home slate includes games against Coastal Carolina, Mississippi State, New Mexico State, Auburn and Kentucky.

Although no schedule in the SEC is easy, the Bulldogs catch a huge break when it comes to their 2011 schedule.

It is a schedule that they have to take advantage of and should, or it might mean the end of the Mark Richt era at Georgia.

As the 2011 season comes closer, the goal for this team is simple. Win the SEC East.

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