Nobody has played a game yet and optimism reigns on most campuses this side of Coral Gables (NCAA investigators tend to put a damper on things). So this seems like a good time to pose the question: What’s the best that Georgia and Georgia Tech fans realistically can hope for this season?
ESPN The Magazine — the publication that turned Michael Vick white — listed Georgia as one of five dark-horses with at least five losses last season as a contender for a BCS bowl. The other four: Arizona State (6-6), Notre Dame (8-5), Iowa (8-5), South Carolina (9-5). The Bulldogs obviously stand out in that group. They were the only team with a losing record (6-7) and certainly the only one that lost to Colorado. A BCS bowl? Really?
And what’s the best Tech fans can hope for? The Jackets went from two winning seasons and an ACC championship in 2009 to a 6-7 record and a loss to Kansas last season. Which is the aberration?
Here, in my view, are the respective ceilings for both teams this season:
– GEORGIA. Best case: 10-2 regular season, loss to Alabama in the SEC championship game, win in the bowl game (11-3 overall). And no, I’m not predicting 11-3. But that’s not an unreasonable expectation given the schedule. If the Bulldogs can manage even a split of their first two games against Boise State and South Carolina, the schedule becomes their friend. They don’t play Alabama, LSU or Arkansas from the SEC West, and they should be even or better than anybody else. Then again, this is the team that loss to Colorado, Mississippi State and Central Florida last year. Logic says they’ll lose at least two or three games, which still could be good enough to win the East and get them into the conference championship game. But I don’t see anybody from the East beating Alabama.
– GEORGIA TECH. Best case: 8-4 regular season, win a bowl game (9-4 overall). I get the feeling the Jackets are going to be better than people think, though still not nearly BCS worthy. There’s probably three teams better than them in the ACC Coastal (Virginia Tech, North Carolina and presumably Miami, assuming half the team isn’t suspended). Florida State, North Carolina State and possibly Clemson are better in the Atlantic. The Jackets play five of those six teams (not FSU). Even if Paul Johnson’s team is better than expected, it’s difficult to imagine them losing less than three conference games, before the Georgia game.
So those are the best-case scenarios.
As for the worst-case scenarios, they’re not difficult to imagine. We saw them last season.
OK, your turn. What’s the best record, bowl game included, do you think Georgia or Georgia Tech can hope for?
By Jeff Schultz