Ranking teams is as much about feelings and karma as it is returning starters and that’s why Georgia, this year, is on my mind.
There is a mojo in Athens with a circular flow that rekindles memories of Coach Dooley and Herschel between the hedges.
A tea reader would look at all the signs and tell you to get thyself to Brent Musburger’s betting shop in Las Vegas.
Or maybe all this is just coincidence. [membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]
Georgia just so happens to have its best team in years, at least since 2012, in a season when it plays Notre Dame in an epic Sept. 2 game in South Bend.
This all ties back to the glory of yesteryear, when a 17-10 victory over Notre Dame in the 1981 Sugar Bowl capped Georgia’s only modern day national title.
That Bulldog team was led by running back Herschel Walker, who this spring was named the top player in the 50-year history of Athlon Magazine.
Rankman was a voter in that survey and, of course, had Herschel as his slam-dunk No. 1.
History means a lot in Athens, Greece, and Athens, Ga., so don’t discount any of this.
There are a lot of signs that point to this being Uga’s year (or else?).
It wasn’t enough that 11 starters are returning on a defense that ranked No. 16 nationally in 2016. Georgia also welcomes the return of sophomore quarterback, Jacob Eason, one of the many young quarterback stars rising in the SEC.
The karma clincher, though, was news that running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel were forgoing the NFL to make one more run at something big.
Coach Kirby Smart, at SEC Media Days, said he responded to this news with “total elation.”
The SEC East, where Georgia resides, is still the weakest of the two divisions, so it’s all there on the table.
Georgia also avoids Alabama, LSU and Texas A&M in the cross-over rotation, which reminds of the 2012 campaign in which the Bulldogs avoided all the top teams in the West until meeting Alabama for the conference title. Georgia came within 10 yards of advancing to the national title game as a last-ditch drive ended in a four-point loss.
Make no mistake: that schedule was easier than this schedule. Georgia played Buffalo, Florida Atlantic and Georgia Southern that year.
This year one of the biggest challenges will be not overlooking the opener in advance of Sept. 9 at Notre Dame.
That’s because the opener is against Appalachian State, a former 1-AA dream killer now entering its fourth year at the FBS level in the Sun Belt Conference. The Mountaineers are 28-5 in their last 33 games and return quarterback Taylor Lamb, the Sun Belt offensive player of the year.
In 2007, of course, App State shocked the world with its season-opening win at Michigan.
If Georgia is looking to Notre Dame, then Georgia will be 0-1 heading to South Bend.
The Bulldogs also have big concerns at offensive line to address.
“We’re going to have a lot of shuffling across the offensive line throughout camp,” Smart said in July. “…how many do we have that can play winning football?”
Maybe Georgia is just teasing us again with its promise and talent. Or, maybe all these signs are going to add up.[/membership]