OK, so I’ve been gone for a while. Well, not really gone but working. While this is what I do at work, I’ve actually been working. Go figure. Living in Athens, it’s hard not to get swept up in all the hype surrounding UGA and their pursuit of their first national title since 1980. Being a dawg fan myself, and an alumnus to boot, I felt only right that in the midst of all this, my next log entry should concern UGA before I turn my writing towards the NFL in all its glory.
The word out of Athens these days, and these words are coming from Athens, is perfection. Plain and simple. They (we) think that UGA is just that good. In the words of a college football personality, not so fast my friends. Is perfection really possible? Can UGA run the table? Do they really need to?
Tackling these questions isn’t as easy as it would appear, and I don’t think it appears that easy. I am by no means a “college football expert”. I’m a fan and that’s a start. And I’m a UGA fan, so keep that in mind while reading this. Let’s take these one at a time.Is perfection really possible?
The short answer, yes. I know there is a lot of talk on here about SEC dominance and how tough the conference play is, and I agree, but Auburn did it back in 2004. It can be done. This Georgia team has all the things needed for an undefeated run through the SEC. A power running game? Check. Knowshon Moreno is one of the best backs in the country. End of story. But wait, there’s more. Caleb King certainly looks to be an emerging back in his own right. That’s a heck of a one two punch. A young offensive line to begin with, now suffering the loss of the starting left tackle, does raise some questions but so far so good. This week’s contest against a sturdy USCe defense should show how good they are. Solid quarterback play? Check (so far). Matt Stafford has looked impressive in wins over Georgia Southern and Central Michigan. You can sense the “but” can’t you. BUT . . . it was Georgia Southern and Central Michigan. Not exactly powerhouses in FBS. Southern fields a good FCS or Div II or whatever the heck it’s called these days and Central Michigan is a good MAC team but let’s face it, these are not BCS contenders. Again, USCe should show us whether Stafford improves on his 19 TD 10 INT season from a year ago or reverts to his freshman form. One thing is for sure, with defenses keying on the run, Stafford should be able to throw the ball this year. A playmaker receiver? This is the one that makes me wonder sometimes. Massaquoi has looked solid at time but I really believe that A.J. Green will emerge as a big play threat in the passing game this year. A defense that can control the game? Check. The loss of Owens hurts big time. There’s no doubting it. UGA has depth on the line, however. The linebackers look better than good (short of great) and the secondary can certainly hold its own against any receiving core (see Sugar Bowl last year for example). It is a defense of playmakers (see Dobbs’s 78 year interception return TD from last game). Kicker? Well, this one is still a question mark. I think UGA will need its kicker more this year than most Dawg fans would like to think. Blair Walsh still has to prove himself in big game situations (read late, game winning field goals), but that 52 yarder give me more confidence.
Can UGA run the table?
So far, so good, as they say. Again, it’s just GSU and Central Michigan but you have to win those before moving on. They beat both teams handily, as they should have. It gets tougher from here on out. Their remaining games are (current ranks in parentheses) at USCe, at Arizona St. (15), Alabama (11), Tennessee, Vanderbilt, at LSU (7), Florida (4) in Jacksonville, at Kentucky, at Auburn (9), and Georgia Tech. That is a tough schedule. I’m not going to get into a debate about SEC supremacy but almost everyone agrees that LSU, Florida, and Auburn are elite teams. Arizona St. is a good Pac 10 team. UGA will play five of the current top 15 teams in the nation. Yes, it’s early but that is still tough. They have the personnel to run the table but every year UGA seems to have a hiccup against one (or more) teams. It’s too early to tell if they have the mettle to handle this schedule. This is a very young team (57 freshmen versus 21 seniors). Only time will tell. Personally, I believe they will lose one game to one of those top 15 teams but don’t fear, Dawg fans, all is not lost. This takes us to the last of these questions.
Does UGA need an undefeated season to make the BCS National Championship game?
Yes and no. If they are undefeated with that schedule, snubbing them would be unfair. I know I’m a fan of UGA but seriously. If UGA goes undefeated in the SEC, playing every powerhouse it has to offer, how could they not get a shot? That being said, it is very likely they will lose a game somewhere along the line. Does this spoil their chances? Not necessarily. USC and OSU play a game sometime this year. Anybody else hear about that? That eliminates one major foe to UGA’s hopes should they lose a game. The winner of the USC/OSU game will have a clear shot to the title game. They are both the favorites to win their conferences. They are both in the title hunt each year. With one knocked off come Saturday, UGA’s chances get better. UGA should make it over a one loss USC or OSU based on SOS. Now, if the winner of that game goes undefeated the remainder of the season, they will be in. No doubt. So let’s turn our heads to other conferences. The ACC has already had two of its top teams toppled in Virginia and Clemson. It’s likely neither will make it to the title game given losses to USC and Alabama respectively. The Big East lost frontrunner WVU to ECU, most likely excluding them from the big dance. Pitt fell to Bowling Green, but they wouldn’t have made it either. USF squeaked by UCF for a win but even winning the Big East won’t give USF the nod (nor will they be undefeated come season’s end, in this writer’s humble opinion). OSU, despite the loss, I believe they will suffer at the hands of USC, will more than likely win the Big Ten. As already discussed, a one loss OSU team will not vault a one loss UGA team. USC could very well finish the season undefeated if they get past the Buckeyes. Be careful, though, Trojans. Could we see another stunning upset in the PAC 10? Then there’s the Big 12. Right now Oklahoma looks like the favorite to win. Texas hasn’t toppled OU in a few years. Missouri is on the rise and Kansas had a breakout season last year. In the end, the PAC 10 and the Big 12 are the biggest roadblocks to a one loss UGA team making the title game. It is possible that both USC and Oklahoma could make it out unscathed and we’d have another USC/OU title game.
So, Dawg fans, keep your eyes on the PAC 10 and Big 12 should the Dawgs fall. It may be our only hope.