Bradley’s grid picks: Tech wins eight; UGA wins the SEC East

My personal credo. (AJC photo by Ben Gray, as doctored by Ms. Mandi Albright)

My credo. (AJC photo by Ben Gray, doctored by Mandi Albright)

Six months ago I wouldn’t have imagined this pick, but here it is: Georgia will go 10-2 and win the SEC East. And how’s that for a snappy beginning to our annual long-range look at college football?

What changed my mind about Georgia? The Dream Team. I’m not the biggest believer in recruiting rankings, but this class rekindled a fire that, after 8-5 followed by 6-7, was down to embers.

Six months ago I saw a program that had run out of ideas. (How do you not score a touchdown against Central Florida?) Today I see a team primed to seize its opportunity. The SEC East is as rickety as it has ever been: Urban Meyer is gone from Florida, Tennessee is in flux and South Carolina’s breakthrough season — the Gamecocks finally won the division — fizzled at its end.

Georgia’s schedule sets up beautifully. The Bulldogs open against a team that figures to be ranked among the nation’s top five, but the team is Boise State (meaning: less talented than Georgia) and the game is in the Georgia Dome. The next week South Carolina comes to Athens. After winning those two games, the Bulldogs will find themselves in the Top 10.

Their two losses? Even with Florida under new management, one will come against the Gators. (One Georgia loss always comes against the Gators.) The other will come against Mississippi State even though the game is in Athens. (I’m not sure the fourth-best team in the SEC West couldn’t win the East.) As for Georgia’s opponent in the SEC title game … well, keep reading.

• Georgia Tech will tighten up on offense and defense — fewer turnovers, fewer points allowed. This will enable the Jackets to go 8-4 and finish third, behind Virginia Tech and Miami, in the ACC Coastal. They’ll miss Joshua Nesbitt but  profit from a kinder schedule. They don’t play Florida State. They get North Carolina, Maryland and Clemson here, and they should win two of those. They get N.C. State, Miami, Virginia and Duke on the road, and they can win at least two of those.

• Andrew Luck, the Stanford quarterback who spurned the NFL, will win the Heisman Trophy.

• Nebraska, new to the Big Ten, will win the Big Ten (now up to 12 members). Ohio State, as you may have heard, has issues.

• With Nebraska gone and Texas in retreat, Oklahoma will tear through the Big 12 (now down to 10) and finish first in the BCS standings.

I foresee a great leap forward. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

I foresee a great leap forward. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

• As big as the Georgia-Boise game is to us around here, it will pale in comparison nationally to the other neutral-site game of Sept. 3: LSU-Oregon in Arlington, Texas. LSU 34, Oregon 31.

• Boise State won’t lose after Sept. 3, but from a national perspective it won’t matter. Boise State registers only when unbeaten.

• Auburn goes from 14-0 and the BCS title to 7-5 and fifth in the SEC West. That’s unless Russell Wilson, the baseball-playing quarterback who was released from his scholarship by N. C. State, chooses the Tigers over Wisconsin. Should that happen, bump the Tigers up to 8-4 and fourth. Wilson isn’t Cam Newton, but he’s good.

• Florida State will lose to Oklahoma in Tallahassee on Sept. 17 but will run through the ACC undefeated, beating Virginia Tech in the conference title game (now housed in Charlotte).

• Florida will beat Georgia and still finish 7-5. The Gators must play Alabama and LSU. (Georgia gets neither.) The odd Will Muschamp-Charlie Weis alliance will be in tatters by Halloween.

GT's string of losing seasons ends at one. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

The string of losing seasons ends at one. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

• South Carolina will go 10-2 — its other loss will be to Arkansas — and lose the division title on the head-to-head tiebreaker.

• Tennessee will finish 6-6. Its new athletic director, whoever he/she is, will not be pleased.

• Utah will win the South Division of the newly configured Pac-12. Stanford will win the North because its biggest game — Oregon on Nov. 12 — is at home. Lane Kiffin and Southern Cal will finish 7-5, if anyone still cares.

• As for the SEC West … Alabama has the better schedule, but LSU has the better team. The Tigers will lose early at Mississippi State but not again. They’ll take down Alabama, which won’t lose to anybody else, in Tuscaloosa on Nov. 5. I see LSU beating Georgia for the SEC championship and Oklahoma in the BCS title game, which will, conveniently enough, be staged in New Orleans.

• Georgia State will go 8-3. It will, however, lose 51-10 at Houston on Sept. 24. Which, when you consider the Panthers lost 63-7 at Alabama last season, will be a sign of progress.

• After the doings of this offseason — Auburn’s trees, the Fiesta Bowl follies, the fall of Jim Tressel and the weirdness at West Virginia — the games themselves will seem almost staid. Even Tech versus Georgia will be nothing special. The Bulldogs will win by two touchdowns.

By Mark Bradley

746 comments Add your comment

rawdawg

June 10th, 2011
10:04 am

ted williams head

June 10th, 2011
10:05 am

LOL Marl ill revisit this in Jan but its fun and thanks. If you think Boise is less talented than UGA you are sadly mistaken.

Dawgs97

June 10th, 2011
10:06 am

The LSU pick is easily your worst. No way they go 12-0 with Jordan Jefferson at Quarterback.

NC Dawg

June 10th, 2011
10:06 am

Denver Dawg

June 10th, 2011
10:08 am

another loss to Florida and someone’s head needs to roll…

Jerry

June 10th, 2011
10:08 am

Mark, I always enjoy your predictions this time of year. Va Tech is the team to beat until proven otherwise but GT matches up good with them it seems. Though I am biased towards the Jackets, I am not really sold on Al Golden yet. Here’s why. http://coachesbythenumbers.com/is-al-golden-really-rich-brooks-with-a-tie/

Shane

June 10th, 2011
10:09 am

I knew you would pick uga. What a dumbass. They lose the best receiver in the game, their number 2 receiver durham, together accounting for about 77% of passing offense. Their best rb transfers. They lose 2 defenders to the nfl and you pick them to win. You’re an idiot bradley.
Uga wins 6-7 games and is 3rd at best in the east.

puppykiller

June 10th, 2011
10:09 am

I love it!!!! Auburn is on absolutely NO ONE’s radar again!! hee heee heee heeee Just keep on ignoring us. Nothing to see here………til it’s too late!!!!

WDE!!

Benjamin

June 10th, 2011
10:09 am

Another top ten finish for Benjamin. I need a sponsor…

Georgia is going to be interesting this year, MB. Not sure I’d go the extra mile in saying they win the SEC East, but I hope you’re correct with both predictions, Would be nice to see both finish well.

laughing all the way

June 10th, 2011
10:10 am

dogs start 2 and 0….almost spilled my coffee!

Duke

June 10th, 2011
10:10 am

Mark, nice work! I agree with your prognostications. Go Dawgs! I just was wondering where you have Miss. St. finishing? You have them beating the Dawgs in Athens and beating LSU but they’re not going to win the West? Just wondering.

me

June 10th, 2011
10:10 am

Jordan Jefferson is a joke. Any QB trying to wear WR gloves in the Spring Game playing QB is too stupid to play QB in the SEC.

MB is a kool aid drinking fool

June 10th, 2011
10:11 am

dream team? At most 2 of those players will even play. And they are freshman playing among men. Are you insane? Uga wins 6 again

Brad

June 10th, 2011
10:11 am

Georgia beats Boise and then think they are back. The next week they play horrible and lose to South Carolina because South Carolina is the more talented and a better coached team.

Reggie Ball

June 10th, 2011
10:11 am

I’m first!!!

Dawgs97

June 10th, 2011
10:12 am

Keep in mind, all the Dawg ‘haters’ now trolling in here are jealous Tech fans. That prediction, the Thanksgiving in-state game, Mark will get right, though he’s being conservative – Dawgs will beat the flies by 3 touchdowns.

DawginLex

June 10th, 2011
10:13 am

I got the Dawgs going 10-2 but losing to SC and UT and Sc winning the East.

You are going to really miss out on LSU. Not only will Oregon beat them, so will MSU and Arkansas. 9-3 and Les Miles seat is flaming.

Arkansas is going to win the west.

Get ready, because another scumbag is going to win the SEC in 2011-Petrino. Year 3 at Louisville was really good. Expect the same at pigville. They have 4 WR’s better than everyone else’s except Jeffrey at SC.

Mr. Obvious

June 10th, 2011
10:13 am

Georgia’s best (& only) chance of winning a BCS Bid in 2011 is if the Georgia Lottery makes it a grand prize in one of their lame scratch-off games and someone gives Mark Richt the lucky ticket.

2BT

June 10th, 2011
10:14 am

Dream Team consists of 17 and 18 year old freshmen. It takes a year to realize they’re not playing against Tift County, Houston County, and Hephzibah anymore. Georgia starts off 0-2 so put that nonsense to bed right now. You nailed yet another Florida loss correctly but need to realize that the Tennessee team that lost to LSU in the last minute will gladly give the mutts some payback in Knoxville as well. 7-5 for Jawja and Richt somehow survives because of injuries and inexperienced youth. GT is about right. Anywhere from 7-5 to 9-3 because of the schedule but the losses to Miami and Clemson will prove too much to overcome. Their big upset will come over Virginia Tech on a Thursday night primetime affair in downtown Atlanta. Give me LSU in the SEC, FSU in the ACC, and Oklahoma as the national champs.

Lowcountry Bulldawg

June 10th, 2011
10:14 am

Scary Mark, you have the same two games pegged as I do, but I am worried about that trip to Knoxville. UT has some weapons on the perimeter and the young gunslinger to get them the ball. The schedule does setup nicely for the Dawgs I have to admit.

Only issue I saw was the Stanford over Oregon. I just dont think Stanford keeps that same edge Harbough brought to the program, even though they prmomoted from within.. Also doesnt Luck lose several of his OL?

George

June 10th, 2011
10:14 am

Mark, ever thought of doing that “Around the Horn” show on ESPN. They need someone from the deep south. You would be every bit as good as those who are on there now. And there’s probably some extra $ to boot.

Mark Bradley

June 10th, 2011
10:15 am

I kind of like Jordan Jefferson. And don’t forget: LSU has a backup quarterback of some worth. Used to be at Georgia, if I’m not mistaken.

JB

June 10th, 2011
10:15 am

Well, I’ve read it. I like it, but don’t believe it will happen. I think the Dawg Defense will be really improved, but as much as the D improves, the offense will go the other way. I’m afraid after watching the spring game, we’ve got some issues there. OL,RB,WR..

Mark Bradley

June 10th, 2011
10:15 am

If you’ve ever seen me on TV, George, you wouldn’t ask such a question. But thanks for the sentiment.

65dawg

June 10th, 2011
10:16 am

Thanks a lot, Mark! We’ll never win the East now. We’ve just been given the kiss of death!

DawginLex

June 10th, 2011
10:16 am

Mettenberger will be playing by year end but will crap his pants.

See Daniel Cobb Part II.

LSU has already recruited over Mett for the future.

He will be a bust.

Crush

June 10th, 2011
10:17 am

Well ok then.

Chopper

June 10th, 2011
10:17 am

I will trade a Boise St. or South Carolina loss for a Florida victory. Can we negotiate for that, MB?

PMC

June 10th, 2011
10:18 am

I still find it a bit hilarious how much hype has been built around LSU who still have no proven QB.

It’s almost like Georgia not being able to beat Florida at this point.

Les Miles will blow a game they shouldn’t lose because he loses his mind, and the QB situation will come back to bite them.

whatthedawg

June 10th, 2011
10:18 am

Mark, predictions are always fun as long as you’re not talking to an Alabama/Auburn fan (who would pick Alabama if they were playing God).

Predictions:
Georgia – 9 and 3 (beat UF and Tech) (upset by UT and AU, and we’ll find a way to lose another one)
Tech – 8 and 4 (their defense is truly horrible and untalented, but ACC is weak – would be 6 and 6 in the SEC)
Alabama – national champs
Heisman – Trent Richardson (has to be that kind of a year for him if Bama is going to win it all)

Smile and take a deep breath everybody. Picks are about having fun!

DawginLex

June 10th, 2011
10:18 am

Nobody will want to play Arkansas after they play Texas A&M and destroy them. Tyler Wilson will be 1st team SEC, then Murray 2nd.

I’ve got Ark beating SC twice just like Auburn beat them twice last year.

Darth Visor

June 10th, 2011
10:19 am

Well Son of a Kool Aid drinking Bulldog!!!!! Not this year…

Ted M

June 10th, 2011
10:19 am

seem like pretty good picks but I really wonder about Georgia’s offensive line.

Shug

June 10th, 2011
10:20 am

Sorry, UGA’s got the usual talent, but also its usual mojo, which means 7-5. Tech, also 7-5. Sooners a disappointing 9-3, by the way.

Kyle

June 10th, 2011
10:20 am

so 2 years ago gt loses it’s best receiver and a couple of key players on defense and that is reason for you to give them 8 wins. Ga loses much more offensively and a key defensive player and they win the sec? Give me a break. This is jawja. Richt. The most overhyped delusional fan base on the planet. Tech wins 10 Ga wins 7.
Gt without nesbitt nearly beat the pups last year yet you think this year will be 14? Whatever.

DDawg

June 10th, 2011
10:20 am

So I guess the Dawgs dont win the East since Bradley’s prediction is them winning it. Smart money to go against Bradley.

No WAY

June 10th, 2011
10:21 am

Mark 10-2 REALLY have you seen who they play? the correct schedule that is. The DAWGS will be a 5-7 team and replace their whole coaching staff next year. When the lose the opener it will start, behind closed doors they will be looking for a new coach. Look for Tressel’s name to be on the list.

Gonna be funny

June 10th, 2011
10:23 am

When isiah gets his rude awakening. This isn’t high school. Lose balls all over the place. Dream team. Bleh. He’s a freshman. Dude will probably pull a heyward and sit out a few games after realizing this isn’t little boy football anymore

whatthedawg

June 10th, 2011
10:23 am

Shane – Roid rage is obviously real. Take a deep breath.

TommyJack

June 10th, 2011
10:23 am

MB, beware what you sprinkle on your cereal. Good grief, man.

1eyedJack

June 10th, 2011
10:23 am

That ball sure does bounce funny.

Skeezix

June 10th, 2011
10:23 am

Mark: I concur–If Auburn gets Russell Wilson they might be very good because I seen him play and he is a difference maker. Not too sure about LSU, I’ll take Bama. Okay with the Dogs to win the SEC East. I’m going with Va. Tech to win it all in the SEC.

DawginLex

June 10th, 2011
10:23 am

If I’m a Tech fan, I really like that schedule.

At Nc State got less scary with wilson playing QB somewhere else.

Could be 7-0 when they go to Miami and the canes have a new coach. Clemson is at home along with VT.

I could see 9-3 or 10-2

This makes about as much sense as

June 10th, 2011
10:24 am

obuma’s policy on oil drilling and

whatthedawg

June 10th, 2011
10:25 am

puppy killer – AU is on no one’s radar for a reason. By the way, typed out laughter? Nice.

Mark Bradley

June 10th, 2011
10:26 am

Actually, I have seen Georgia’s schedule. I noted that these teams — Alabama, Arkansas and LSU — aren’t on it.

Mike

June 10th, 2011
10:26 am

I point to Bama freshman signee Demetrius Hart who some services listed as the #1 RB recruit ahead of Crowell. MVP of the Under Armour Allstar game. Enrolled early at Bama. Spring game 11 carries for 17 yards vs SEC defense. My point is if Georgia stacking their cards on freshman very risky. My prediction you will know everything about Georgia impact of freshman new defense familiarity by middle of second quarter of Boise game. Boise will be the blue print on how to attack and defend.

Scottie Pippin

June 10th, 2011
10:27 am

Maybe it’s Dirk or Jason Terry that’s better than Michael Jordan.

Bogey

June 10th, 2011
10:27 am

A bit optimistic for the Dawgs I’m afraid but I’ll take it. Need to beat the Gators.

Richt`s Hammer

June 10th, 2011
10:27 am

Sorry but we wil only win at most 4 games. I have my missionary work and for onlly 3 million what do you people expect.

I am so afraid. Please let us beat Florida eventually. In my dreams i see Boise State beating us well like yard dawgs. Oh well pass the biscuits. Who really cares.

Where is choakdawg, In need a krispy kreme.

Good gracious is that the ghost of Jane Kemp under my bed.