Year 6 of the Kirby Smart era at Georgia brings with it plenty of anticipation. With the 2017 season very much in the rear-view mirror, many are pointing to 2021 as the year the program returns to the College Football Playoff.

Of course, a few unfortunate circumstances — including more ill-timed injuries — could turn things upside down in a hurry. While injuries won’t be the focus of this particular column (we’ve spent all offseason writing about them), here are 3 best-case and worst-case scenarios for the Dawgs in 2021:

Best-case scenarios

1. JT Daniels wins the Heisman

It’s the ultimate best-case scenario for Daniels. From true freshman starting quarterback at Southern Cal and an ACL injury as a sophomore to coming to Georgia and putting together a Heisman-level season en route to leading the Dawgs to their first national title in over 4 decades.

That’s not to say that it’s a lock since so much can happen between now and December, but how things end up depends on Smart, Todd Monken, and, of course, Daniels himself to show that the flashes he displayed in 4 games last year were simply an appetizer for what to expect in 2021.

2. Pass rush, led by Adam Anderson, breaks into the top 10 nationally

The Dawgs had 32 sacks in 10 games in 2020. In 2019, they had 28 in 13 games — 6 more than their total in 2018.

Azeez Ojulari had a lot to do with the Dawgs’ sack rate in 2020, but it’s “next man up” as Adam Anderson — 5.5 sacks last year — takes the lead role. And while losing Jermaine Johnson to the transfer portal and Ojulari and Malik Herring to the NFL hurts, that opens up a bigger opportunity for players like Channing Tindall — 3 sacks a year ago — and Travon Walker to make their mark.

Jarvis Jones and his school-record 14.5 sacks in 2012 was the last time a Georgia defender hit double digits. Ojulari, with 9.5, came within a hair of double digits last year, and with more games and a few cupcakes, it’s probably not much of a stretch to expect Anderson to get there in 2021.

3. Perfection: A 12-0 regular season and a spot in the College Football Playoff

Outside of Clemson, ESPN’s FPI has the Bulldogs favored in every regular-season game this year. I think they have the talent to topple the Tigers in the Queen City.

After that, it’s not hard to see them running the table for the first time since — yes, you guessed it — 1980. And despite a loss in the SEC Championship Game, the Dawgs’ ticket to the Playoff for the first time since the 2017 season will have been punched.

Worst-case scenarios

1. The offensive line struggles

Yes, we’re going back here because as I’ve written in the past, Daniels’ health and the running game depend on it on the o-line getting its act together.

I’m not the only one who has brought it up, either. Cole Cubelic knows a couple of things about being a part of an offensive line in the SEC, and during SEC Media Days he mentioned how vital it is for the Dawgs’ front to make the leap and assert itself as one of the best in the conference. And Smart obviously has highlighted it as a concern as well.

It’ll receive a test in Clemson right from the get-go. Clemson’s d-line might be the best in the country, and the last thing it needs is to start the year behind the 8-ball in this department.

2. Cornerback depth doesn’t develop in a timely manner

Yes, Ameer Speed could get the starting cornerback slot across from Derion Kendrick, and a 2-deep that should feature Jalen Kimber and Kelee Ringo could end up paying off, but what if it doesn’t? Below those 4 on the depth chart are a trio of 4-star true freshmen.

Recruiting stars and strong practice sessions don’t guarantee anything. The worst-case scenario here is it taking longer than expected for players to get up to speed and adjust once they see real, live game action.

3. Finding the floor: 3 total losses

Considering the talent (especially on offense and within the run-stopping corps), if this team can’t find themselves in the College Football Playoff hunt, then that’s an indictment of Smart and the staff. So you’ll have to wonder where exactly things went wrong if the Dawgs drop 2 or more regular-season games.

There’s some runway if they fall to Clemson, but going back to the FPI, only Auburn (63.2%) and Florida (62.4%) are in the 60s. Let’s say that Auburn puts together an inspired performance and is able to grab a win at Jordan-Hare Stadium on Oct. 9.

Goodbye, Playoff. And, worst-case scenario, Georgia ends up losing to Alabama on Dec. 5 for a 3rd loss.

It would still end up in a nice bowl, but Smart isn’t getting paid $6.3 million to coach this team to 3 losses and a “nice bowl” this year.