Four-Year Trend: 2008 (10-3), 2009 (8-5), 2010 (6-7), 2011 (10-4)
Notable Player: Aaron Murray, QB. The redshirt junior returns for his third season as Georgia’s starting quarterback, after throwing for more than 6,000 yards and 59 touchdowns his last two years. This season he will try to convert that production into wins against good opponents. Whatever he does expect his height (just 6’1″) to be a major storyline among NFL Draft fetishists next April.
Suspensions: Georgia’s game with South Carolina was moved later than in past years, which is fortunate, since they have a number of key players missing games due to suspension. Bacarri Rambo will miss four games due to a failed drug test. Alec Ogletree faces a two to four game suspension. Sanders Commings will miss two games for a domestic violence arrest in January. Standout running back Isaiah Crowell was kicked off the team, following an arrest on weapons charges.
Preseason Rankings: Georgia may finish in the Top 8 with a forgiving schedule. Heading into this season with question marks, they are not one of the eighth best teams. If we must have a framework to start the season, it should reflect where teams are now, not where teams may end up.
Top Newcomers: Josh Harvey-Clemons (LB), John Theus (OL), Todd Gurley (RB)
Circle This Game: Georgia at South Carolina [Oct. 6] The Bulldogs try to return the favor after getting beat 45-42 in Athens last year. Six of their past eight meetings have been decided by one score or less. This is Georgia’s only elite opponent they face all season. It could decide the SEC East.
Why We Like Them: Aaron Murray may prove the best quarterback in the SEC this year. They return nine starters from a defense that finish seventh in yards per play last season including All-American caliber players such as Rambo and Jarvis Jones. They face only the supple portion of the SEC, missing LSU, Alabama and Arkansas.
Best-Case Scenario: The offensive line is solid, fostering a productive run game and a Heisman run from Murray. The defense overcomes the early season suspensions and is formidable. Georgia beats South Carolina and roles through the rest of an underwhelming schedule, entering the SEC Title Game undefeated.
Worst-Case Scenario: Georgia stumbles off the blocks with suspensions. The offensive line remains a liability. The loss of Isaiah Crowell hurts. The Dawgs get beat soundly by South Carolina and Florida. Home games at Vanderbilt and Tennessee and road trips to Missouri and to Auburn prove tougher than expected. Georgia finishes a disappointing 7-5.
Hit the Under? The Bulldogs have a 1-9 record against teams that finished in the SRS Top 30 the past two seasons.
Projected Bowl: Chick-fil-A
[Photo via Getty]