Georgia should stay at No. 4 in CFP rankings, but Dawgs didn't look the part against Texas A&M
While a blowout win over the Texas A&M Aggies on Saturday at Sanford Stadium was never likely, Georgia football fans — and even coach Kirby Smart — would have preferred a little more distance between themselves and the Aggies on Senior Day between the hedges.
“We had two or three positions that were in field goal range that felt like were out of field goal range before the possession was over,” Smart said after the game. “You can’t do that and beat really good football teams. We’ve got to do better at that.”
“We’ve just got to get better on offense to get where we want to go, but we won,” Georgia running back D’Andre Swift said.
It’s been a familiar tune over the past few weeks, and for much of the season, really: the need for the Bulldogs to be better on offense. When will the switch finally flip?
Georgia’s defense, as usual, held up its end of the bargain but showed signs of tiring late in the game as more pressure was put on them to preserve the win with the offense not performing at its peak. That continues a bit of a trend that came up on Nov. 16 against Auburn, when it took a 21-0 lead into the 4th quarter but yielded 14 points in the final stanza before holding on for the win.
After averaging 449.6 yards of total offense over the first 9 games of the season, the Bulldogs have averaged 264 over its past 2 outings, while their 19 points scored against A&M is the lowest total since putting up 17 in a loss to South Carolina in October. Jake Fromm’s streak of games with a sub-50 percent completion rate is now at 3, albeit barely as he was 11-of-23. Evan against South Carolina, he completed over 54 percent of his passes, his lowest total before a 44.8 against Missouri.
The good news is that the Dawgs have a great chance to pile up some offense against a Georgia Tech that has allowed 30.6 points and 215 yards rushing per game in Geoff Collins’ first season. What about beyond that? They’ll be heavily favored against the Yellow Jackets, but don’t expect the same against Joe Burrow and LSU in the SEC Championship. And while the Tigers’ defense has been suspect, will the Bulldogs be able to take advantage?
That turns the discussion to whether Georgia deserves to stay at No. 4 when the new CFP rankings are released Tuesday night.
If the committee’s “eye test” standard holds up, there’s certainly a case to be made against the Dawgs since their overall performance — defense aside — wasn’t close to an impressive win. Again, it wasn’t going to be the 56-20 line LSU put on Arkansas, but at a stage of the season where how a team looks against its opponent is put closely under the microscope, the Dawgs didn’t really do much to strengthen their case.
And there’s a big factor to consider if the committee decides to move a team up to displace Georgia at No. 4: to what standard will it hold No. 5 Alabama’s 66-3 laugher over FCS Western Carolina, considering the Crimson Tide were under absolutely no threat in a game the Catamounts were paid well over 6 figures to lose by 63 points? (Or, even Alabama’s 47-28 victory at Texas A&M earlier in the season?) Surely that won’t be enough to lift Alabama to the No. 4 spot, will it?
The Bulldogs should still remain at No. 4 when the new CFP rankings come out. But the onus is on them to absolutely prove they belong there. A flat showing at Bobby Dodd Stadium against a team they should beat handily, coupled with a dominant or reasonably comfortable performance by Alabama against Auburn in the Iron Bowl, will probably leave the committee no choice but to slot the Tide in the top 4 and push Georgia out ahead of the SEC Championship Game.
For a team that has leaned on its defense for much of the season but has said time and time again that it needs to get better on offense, Georgia now needs to back up its words with actions.