You’ll never guess who’s No. 1 in SI.com’s college football power rankings for 2010. Actually, you will. Alabama is the easy choice, same as Florida was easy in preseason 2009. (And who was preseason No. 1 in 2008? Why, Georgia.) But the top spot isn’t why we’re here. It’s to focus on the locals, both of which appear in Andy Staples’ Top 25.
Georgia Tech is No. 8. Georgia is No. 22. I’d say that’s too high for the former, about right for the latter.
I reserve the right to amend my opinion in light of developments — if, say, either one finds a defensive coordinator, or if Herschel Walker forgoes his MMA dreams to reclaim that fourth year of collegiate eligibility — but I’d say, as of Jan. 14, 2010, that Tech will dip slightly in 2010 and Georgia will rise a bit.
My take on Tech: It won’t be bad on offense — quoth Paul Johnson: “I’d be stunned if our B-back doesn’t gain 1,000 yards next season” — but Demaryius Thomas is the irreplaceable part, not Jonathan Dwyer. Given the nature of his offense, Johnson isn’t apt to find another receiver half as good as Bay-Bay. (Johnson inherited Thomas, it must be noted, from Chan Gailey.)
The defense will surely benefit from a new coordinator, but not many defenses can lose its two most gifted players and spike upward in production. Through these long-range lenses, I can see Tech winning nine games next season and finishing second to Virginia Tech in the ACC Coastal.
One word of caution, however: The Coastal is going to be tough. Three other teams are included in Mr. Staples’ rankings: Virginia Tech at No. 9, Miami at No. 14 and North Carolina at No. 18. And the Jackets must play two of the three on the road.
As for Georgia: I could see the Bulldogs winning nine games if things break right. The offense could be terrific if Georgia finds a quarterback. One note: The past two times Mark Richt has entered a season with a new quarterback, his teams have finished 9-4 and 8-5. And I’m thinking Aaron Murray (or Logan Grey, or Zach Mettenberger) won’t quite have the impact Matthew Stafford did at the end of 2006.
The defense lost a big-timer in Rennie Curran, but Marcus Dowtin should fill that tackling-machine role. At issue is how fast the new coordinator, assuming Georgia finds one, can make a difference. My guess: Soon, but not overnight.
Mr. Staples has only one SEC team rated above Georgia in the SEC East: Florida is No. 11. Only two SEC West teams are in the Top 25 — LSU is the other, at No. 23 — and Georgia doesn’t play either. If Richt can find the right quarterback and the right coordinator, the door is open. But I, as suggested in yesterday’s post that was loved by one and all, see South Carolina as the team primed to give the Gators the hardest run.
Oh, and if you’re wondering which team will win at Sanford Stadium on Nov. 27, here’s your final score:
Georgia 27, Tech 24.