Having spent the week hammering Mark Richt and Georgia, doing everything from crunching numbers to imagining the worst that could happen, it seems only fair to offer a corresponding best-case-scenario. Here goes:
The Bulldogs could win the SEC East.
I know, I know. They haven’t yet won a conference game, and they surely won’t be favored to beat either Florida or Auburn. (And Kentucky looks like a toss-up.) But it’s conceivable Georgia could finish 5-3 in the SEC, and that might — might, I said — enable them to take the division. Here’s how it would work:
Step 1: Georgia wins out. (Duh.)
Step 2: South Carolina, which has already beaten Georgia and lost to Auburn, loses to Alabama on Saturday, to Arkansas on Nov. 6 and to Florida the week after.
Step 3: Florida, which has lost to Alabama, loses to LSU on Saturday and to Georgia on Oct. 30.
That would leave Georgia and Florida at 5-3 in league play, with Georgia holding the tiebreaker because of its head-to-head victory, and South Carolina at 4-4. (At this early date there seems no sense in discussing how a three-way tie might be broken. Nor does there seem a need to assume any of the above will lose to Vanderbilt.)
Among the things Georgia had going for it this season was this basic bit of logistics: It wasn’t scheduled to play Alabama, and both Florida and South Carolina were. That still holds. And Georgia does get the three Eastern lesser lights — Tennessee, Vandy and Kentucky — in a row. (So does South Carolina, but two of those games are on the road. The Bulldogs get both the Vols and Commodores in Athens.)
There’s a chance Georgia could go to Jacksonville at 3-3 in league play, and if you get to 3-3 there’s at least a mathematical possibility of finishing 5-3. And 5-3 might just win the division, provided South Carolina finishes 4-4. Which could yet happen.
Understand: I didn’t pick Georgia to win the East — I picked UGA third, behind Florida and being shaded for second by South Carolina — and I’m not picking it now. But if I’m going to imagine the horror that might be unleashed if the Bulldogs lose to Derek Dooley’s team, I might as well be even-handed. As lousy as this season has been, there’s still a chance something really good could come of it.
A chance, I said. A chance.
(Oh, and if Georgia loses Saturday, forget I mentioned this.)