Can anybody beat Georgia? The short answer is: Yes
The SEC created divisions in 1992. Since then, just 11 teams have enjoyed a perfect regular season.
How difficult is it to navigate the SEC and emerge unscathed? Alabama has won 5 national titles in the past 9 years. It has only reached 12-0 three times in that span.
Will it happen to Georgia? That’s something we’ve been discussing since the opening drive of the South Carolina game, when it became apparent it wasn’t going to happen in Week 2.
Connor O’Gara, senior national columnist: Here’s the thing: I don’t think that anyone in the East is able to beat Georgia. We’re talking about a team that’s won all but one division game by at least 24 points dating to the start of the 2017 season. Having said that, I think we see 1 slip-up from the Dawgs in the regular season.
When? How about Week 7 at LSU.
LSU actually has the athletes to stay on the field with Georgia, unlike South Carolina. The Tigers are capable of rising to the Dawgs’ level at home, and especially if it’s at night. As much as I believe in Georgia, that’s still an LSU squad that has so much talent on the defensive side. That could easily turn into a defensive slugfest that ultimately results in a close LSU win.
* * * * * * *
Joe Cox, SEC columnist: Nobody in the East is going to beat Georgia. The talent gap is just too wide. I talk college football with a lot of people who somehow don’t seem to see Georgia play as much as I do. They’re constantly telling me, “Oh, sure, Georgia was good, but they lost a lot.” or “Yeah, Georgia was great, but they’re really young.”
They’re also really, really talented. I’m not sure an All-Star team from the entire rest of the East would be able to beat Georgia. And I’m not saying just stick a team together on paper, I’m saying make it an actual team. Give them a couple months to practice and put in a game plan. I’d take UGA -7.
Now, the much more interesting question is whether LSU or Auburn can beat Georgia. Either of those teams has a much better chance than anybody in the East. LSU would need to find some kind of dynamic offensive force to ride. I think LSU could hold Georgia to 30-ish points. But if they only scored seven themselves, it wouldn’t make much difference.
Auburn is the one team that seems to truly have a puncher’s chance. I’ll be watching Auburn’s run defense, because if you can force Georgia into 3rd-and-long and similar situations in which their running game isn’t a huge factor, then maybe you can get them.
As it stands, I’m doing the weekly column that predicts every SEC team’s record. I keep listing Georgia at 11-1 just because it feels like somebody sometime will trip them up. But it’s a short list of possibilities, and if they got to Baton Rouge and crush LSU on Oct. 13, I’ll most likely be picking them 12-0.
* * * * * * *
Michael Bratton, news editor: Sure. I don’t think Georgia is an infallible team by any means this season. It still remains to be seen how much depth the Bulldogs have on defense.
I was the only person nationally that I saw that had Georgia winning in Columbia last week by four touchdowns and my main rationale for that prediction was Georgia’s offensive line and the depth at that position, the speed on the outside, Jake Fromm’s experience and knowing that South Carolina was both overrated and a poor matchup for this Bulldog team. The gap between the rest of the East and Georgia is massive, but the Bulldogs will still face two West teams this season that could beat them.
I think LSU is the one game I would pick that Georgia is most likely to lose. The game is in Baton Rouge and the Tigers match up both the athletes and the linemen. If that game is at night, the crowd will be the most hostile that the Bulldogs face this year and could make the difference between a win and a loss. After all, someone once said, “Death Valley is a place where opponents dreams go to die.”
* * * * * * *
Adam Spencer, Missouri beat reporter: Yes, Georgia looked unstoppable in the second half against South Carolina, but I think the only OK first half should give plenty of people pause. The Gamecocks might not be as good as many people thought this year, and that game might not end up being one of the three most challenging games for the Dawgs.
I know I’m going to come across as a Mizzou homer for saying this, but don’t discredit the Tigers in Week 4. That game is in Columbia, and while I’m not saying Mizzou will pull off the upset, don’t be surprised if Drew Lock and Co. give the Bulldogs a better run for their money than the Gamecocks did.
Then, there is still a trip to LSU and a home game against Auburn to worry about. While the Bulldogs likely will (and should) be favored in both of those games, they can’t be caught thinking they’re all that after one win over South Carolina in Week 2. If they get caught up in the hype now, a 9-3 regular season (or worse) isn’t entirely out of the question. Kirby Smart likely won’t let that happen, though, as he learned at the Nick Saban school of never being satisfied.
* * * * * * *
Chris Wright, executive editor: Missouri is the only team in the East with a quarterback capable of having a career day against the Bulldogs. Everybody else will just try to make it back to the bus in one piece. But even if an East QB goes off, you still have to stop Georgia.
Jake Fromm didn’t attempt another dangerous pass after his terrible decision led to an early interception against South Carolina. It was a 14-7 game at that point. The box score will credit Fromm with a 34-yard touchdown pass to Mecole Hardman later in the game, but that was a simple, short route that Hardman turned into points.
The point is, to beat Georgia, you’re going to need help from Georgia, and the Dawgs do so many simple things well that there’s no need to throw 50-yard jump balls into double coverage. Every swing pass to Hardman or D’Andre Swift or Demetris Robertson has the potential to end with an end zone celebration. Just wait until James Cook gets involved in the screen game.
I’m looking forward to the LSU game. Athletes galore. Georgia’s worst performance last year came on the road against a West opponent.
Beating LSU and Auburn is a tall challenge. If they were closer together, maybe wear and tear could play a bigger role. But the games are 4 weeks apart, and includes a bye. Georgia plays Vanderbilt the week before traveling to LSU and faces one-dimensional Kentucky before hosting Auburn.
There is no 3-game gauntlet on this schedule.
Hiccups happen, yes, but they’re not predictable. Everything is falling into place for Georgia to make a run at perfection.