All this week, Crystal Ball Run will be counting down what our writers consider to be the preseason top 10 teams in college football.
The rankings are based on ballots submitted by our writers in which they were asked to rank their top 10 based on pure team strength. In other words, the team that is ranked No. 1 would be favored over every other team on a neutral field, the team that is ranked No. 2 would be favored over every team except for No. 1, and so on.
Crystal Ball Run Preseason Top 10
No. 5 – Georgia Bulldogs
Georgia in a word: Pushing
Pushing describes so much about the Georgia Bulldogs. They are the fourth team in the SEC by most folks measure and they are pushing to get to the top of the heap. The Dawgs are pushing to get their offense going. Mark Richt and Mike Bobo are pushing Isaiah Crowell to show up for the Bulldogs every play. Todd Grantham is pushing the Georgia defense into the upper echelons of the college football world. Pushing across the board is what the Dawgs are doing.
Why Georgia will live up to billing:
Aaron Murray is a heck of a leader. He’s not the big armed gunslinger that some teams have but he is a calm, confident and effective passer that runs the Georgia offense. He navigates the waters extremely well and his team responds to him when he is at the helm.
On defense the Bulldogs have players at every level. Jarvis Jones and Alec Ogletree are ball players that will shut down just about any offensive attack and Bacarri Rambo is one of the nation’s best safeties.
Why Georgia will disappoint:
Suspensions. The Bulldogs have a boatload of players suspended to start the season and a trip to Mizzou that could derail their championship aspirations early. If the Bulldogs can navigate those waters they are not still out of the woods; finding weapons in the passing game on offense is going to be interesting. They lose Orson Charles and Malcolm Mitchell is now playing on the defensive side of the ball. Tavarres King is a good option but without a threat opposite him it could be tough sledding for Mike Bobo and his unit.
Key Game: at South Carolina (Oct. 6)
The Gamecocks have won two in a row against the Dawgs and this year they are looking to make it three. The game is in Columbia, but the good news is that it is in October, as opposed to September. Not only will the suspended players be back in the fold but the Bulldogs avoid the 100 degree temperatures that normally characterize this ball game. The Gamecocks are looking to make up for last year’s end of season shortcomings. While they beat Georgia it was the Dawgs who ended up winning the east by virtue of South Carolina losing to Auburn and Arkansas down the stretch. This game is going to be a battle between the two best teams in the East and both should enter undefeated with a title on their minds.
On the Spot: Isaiah Crowell
This season we are going to learn a lot about Isaiah Crowell. Is he the dynamic, talented running back that will set the pace for the Georgia Bulldogs. Or, is he the moody, immature, nagging injury prone back that will let Keith Marshall pass him on the depth chart. We know Crowell can ball, he’s a true talent that is capable of being the Dawgs’ feature back; if he is in the game. Having Keith Marhsall is going to make or break Crowell and that dynamic is going to be something to watch.
The Bulldogs are pushing towards the top. Staring squarely up at the LSU’s and Alabama’s of the world they have room for opportunity. This team is poised to break into the upper echelon as long as the ball bounces there way. Getting through the regular season unscathed is doable for Mark Richt’s team; the heavy lifting will come in Atlanta. All it takes is one game and with their defense and a quarterback like Aaron Murray they have an opportunity to rebound from last year’s embarrassment in the Georgia Dome.
Most likely this is a team that wins the East but cannot get over the SEC Championship hurdle. They should land in a BCS Bowl, provided the second place SEC West team does not leap them following a loss in Atlanta.
Best Case Scenario: SEC championship, BCS Champion, 14-0.
Worst Case Scenario: Second in SEC East, 9-3 (5-3)