Pigskin pickin’: Tech wins its division; UGA takes the SEC title

The Honey Badger had his way when last they met. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

The Honey Badger had his way last season. But that was then. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Georgia will go 11-1 and win the SEC East. Then it will beat LSU for the SEC championship. And then … well, what destination traditionally awaits the SEC champion? (Hint: It ain’t beautiful downtown Shreveport.)

With that, we commence our annual long-range look at college football, which is guaranteed to please absolutely no one. If I pick your team to do less well than you think it should, you’ll be miffed;  if I pick your team to do better, you’ll gripe about the Bradley Jinx. Which didn’t, I should note, seem to trouble Georgia overmuch last season: The Bulldogs, as predicted, did take the East. And this year, for better or worse, I foresee better.

Georgia Tech will upset Virginia Tech on Labor Day night and will win the ACC Coastal Division. I can’t really believe I’m making this call. (Perhaps you share the feeling.) But before you succumb to an outbreak of whooping scoff, check the Jackets’ schedule.  They’ll play only one road game — that at Clemson — between Sept. 4 and Nov. 2, and their final three ACC games are against Maryland (2-10 last season), North Carolina (new coach plus a bowl ban) and Duke (still Duke).

One game doesn’t usually a season make — you’ll recall Georgia losing to Boise State — but history does note that the Tech-Tech winner has become Coastal champ every year there has been a Coastal. History also notes that Virginia Tech doesn’t always start quickly. History also notes that Paul Johnson is pretty good as an underdog. I’m thinking he coaches the heck out of that game and his team goes 9-3 (losses to Miami, Clemson and Georgia) and wins the division on a tiebreaker. I’m also thinking nobody else will agree — except maybe Paul Johnson.

Tech's Tevin Washington against the Hokies last year. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

Georgia Tech's Tevin Washington against the Hokies last year. That didn't end so well, either. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

LSU will lose a regular-season game but win the SEC West. Maybe the loss will come at Auburn, or at Florida, or even at Texas A&M. Just for the heck of it, let’s go with the new-to-the SEC Aggies. I do not, however, believe LSU will lose against Alabama on Nov. 3 or Arkansas on Nov. 24. The men of Miles will rise up for those Titanic tilts. (I also don’t think Bama will be quite as good as advertised, and I can’t see John L. Smith lifting Arkansas to great heights.)

Once again, South Carolina will beat Georgia but lose the SEC East. Because the Gamecocks will lose at LSU on Oct. 13 and at Florida the next week. (The Gators will start to get well this season. They’ll go 9-3.) Another 10-win season will leave South Carolina frozen out of the SEC title game — mostly because of the imbalance in SEC scheduling. Steve Spurrier is right: Somebody does need to do something about that.

Speaking of significant openers … Tennessee cannot lose to North Carolina State on Aug. 31. Derek Dooley’s Vols could be positioned for a rebound — provided they beat the Wolfpack in Game 1 of the Chick-fil-A Kickoff. And State, which was 8-5 last season even after letting Russell Wilson leave for Wisconsin, won’t be easy. But this is a must game for the Vols, and I’m thinking they’ll take it. Besides, the SEC always beats the ACC, right?

Hold that thought. I like Clemson over Auburn the next night in the same building. Cam Newton: Gone awhile. Gus Malzahn: Gone to Arkansas State. Auburn’s 2010 national championship will soon be rendered one of those how-did-that-happen comets if Gene Chizik doesn’t think of something fast, and I’m not sure G-Chiz is about to make us say, “Gee whiz!” The schedule’s not that bad; I just don’t see Auburn being that good. Eight wins, tops.

Florida State will win the ACC because somebody has to. League loyalists point to the good coaches entering the conference — Mike London of Virginia, Al Golden of Miami, Larry Fedora of North Carolina — as reason to believe. Honesty compels me to confess that I’ve rarely seen the ACC appear less imposing. (So why am I picking Clemson over Auburn? Because I’m stupid, that’s why.)

Southern Cal will go undefeated behind their boy genius coach and will play Georgia for the BCS title in Miami. I’m not going to make a pick on this one yet — I’ve done enough damage for one day, don’t you think? — except to say this: Lane Kiffin absolutely owns Mark Richt. (OK, so they’ve only met once.)

Kidding aside, I really do think Georgia has the makings of a championship team. Great defense. Good quarterback. Lots of running backs. I have the same concerns as you about the offensive line, but no team is without blemish. And the schedule — no Alabama, no Arkansas, no LSU, not even a Boise State — looks mightily inviting. Not to heap pressure on anyone, but you have to wonder: If Richt doesn’t play for the BCS title with this team, will he ever?

Lane Kiffin at work against Georgia: Oct. 10, 2009. His team won by 26. (AP photo)

Lane Kiffin at work against Georgia: Oct. 10, 2009. His team won by 26. (AP photo)

By Mark Bradley

624 comments Add your comment

Bradley, up to same ole horses***

June 3rd, 2012
12:17 am

I notice where you reference your correct prediction about GA winning SEC east. I would love to see your prediction for GA the previous 9 years. Can you state it here. I seriously doubt you will. And if you are right 50% of the time, what does that tell us. Says any jackleg off the street could match your prognostication skills.

The Truth is in the Coaching

June 3rd, 2012
12:21 am

How good is that defense when the dope I mean smoke cloud clears.?

Rick James

June 3rd, 2012
12:37 am

@The Truth is in the Coaching

How good is that defense when the dope I mean smoke cloud clears.?
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Even in a cloud of smoke its better than Al Groh’s

Rick James

June 3rd, 2012
12:45 am

@Bradley, up to same ole horses***

I notice where you reference your correct prediction about GA winning SEC east. I would love to see your prediction for GA the previous 9 years. Can you state it here. I seriously doubt you will. And if you are right 50% of the time, what does that tell us. Says any jackleg off the street could match your prognostication skills
——————————————————————————————————————————-
Who cares? He’s sports writer offering his opinon!! If he could predict outcomes he would be in Vegas and not at the ACJ..Good grief!!

rockhillcheese

June 3rd, 2012
12:59 am

Rick: Full of hating this AM. If you don’t care for his opinion go elsewhere….www.vibe/scarolinast.edu

SonsOfItaly

June 3rd, 2012
1:02 am

russellhall'87

June 3rd, 2012
1:11 am

Mark, can you put in a good word to help replace Bill King w/ Thomas Brown?

Alabama

June 3rd, 2012
1:56 am

Winning the national championship…..this is the prediction every year LOL

Thekatman

June 3rd, 2012
2:19 am

Georgia? I’ve heard about the GA appearance, but against Oklahoma. If USC goes undefeated or has 1 loss and beats Oregon formthe Pac-12 Championship, they’ll be in Miami. USC vs Georgia, USC with the win, 52-19. If it’s USC vs Alabama, USC with the win, 52-9. If it’s USC vs LSU, it’s USC with the win, 52-6.
Fight On brothers and sisters.
Beat everbody!

Bradley, up to same ole horses***

June 3rd, 2012
2:39 am

Hey Rick James, you missed the point idiot.

normchow

June 3rd, 2012
3:06 am

lane cat man…what a bunch of dump…beat ore and stanford and ucla 1st! lm,ao

dawginduluth

June 3rd, 2012
5:30 am

No NC with Richt. Never.

LOL

June 3rd, 2012
6:44 am

You are way too optomistic or dilusional if you think UGA is going to win the SEC title.

North Ga Dawg

June 3rd, 2012
6:48 am

I’m sorry, but I can’t see the Gators winning more than 4 or 5 games. They are terrible.

Rodque3

June 3rd, 2012
7:00 am

I love the article, Georgia will beat South Carolina, i’m hopeful for a SEC championship, national championship will be great!!

wild one 13

June 3rd, 2012
7:09 am

I’m hopeful that I win the lottery. Alas, my chances are about as good as the Dawgs winning a SEC title this year.

East Repeat

June 3rd, 2012
7:17 am

UGA will lose to Sc for 3rd year in row. Sc is kust a stronger program than UGA right now. Another 150-175 yds for Lattimore (will give him over 500 yds in 3 games- a real Dawg tamer). Cnnor shaw will be a good qb (see ball security stats in 2010, then look at UGA’s Murray on ball security). Sc is best in East, Sourrier is the biggest bulldasg whipper of all times. Man, I am glad Sc has him as coach. Who will SC get for next coach, Knute Rockne? Holtz, Spurrier, both Hall of Fame coaches, keep upgrading. Will Richt finally be let go after 3rd loss in row to SC. Nah, UGA’s staff/administration is just too inbred to get rid of one of their own.

Elwell

June 3rd, 2012
7:37 am

So what happens if Alabama beats LSU and everyone else…play Georgia…never underestimate Nick Saban…even on a rebound year…it is called “Offensive Line”

trey

June 3rd, 2012
7:42 am

The taliban have no room to be bashing anybody’s schedule. LMAO! The toughest game outside of UGA on their schedule this year is Mickey Mouse Univ. Oh wait they backed out of that game series. What about that second game, the Presbyterian Blue Hose? ROFLMAO. You go girls!!

AAAAA Athens Bail Bonds R Us

June 3rd, 2012
7:52 am

Any more leg humpers arrested this week?

Piney Woods Pete

June 3rd, 2012
7:55 am

It’s really sad that UGA alumni and fans have only their football team to take pride in. It’s even sadder that this pride depends on the performance of illiterate dummies who don’t even come close to meeting minimum academic requirements. 94% of UGA football players are what UGA calls “special admits,” which is just a euphemism for admitting bozos who can’t even read.

This sorry practice not only cheapens all UGA degrees (which are pretty worthless to begin with), but embarrasses the State of Georgia and its citizens. And Mark Richt is the one behind the atrocities at UGA.

So enjoy your victories, and be kind to your former players when you see them working menial jobs in custodial or sanitation services. Or pushing a shopping cart around, looking for a warm place to sleep at night. That’s your UGA reality.

Piney Woods Pete

June 3rd, 2012
7:57 am

Will UGA be wearing their Nike clown uniforms again this year?

Gulf Shores Dawg

June 3rd, 2012
8:03 am

It will be an interesting year. Hope GT does well and we have the nation watching for the last game of the regular season…will be in the stands regardless…Good luck to the SEC and Hope my Dawgs play to their potential each week and we will be just fine. Go Dawgs!

lizard

June 3rd, 2012
8:05 am

not going to happen man——–wish it were true but UGA has too many issues—–coaching, players running the show, and Adams. So—how about Alabama—that sounds better to me. I do pull for UGA but they have been very sloppy and never have a good running game so———-without that you are not going to win the big one.

Drew

June 3rd, 2012
8:16 am

I love the dawgs, but this is ridiculous

Reality

June 3rd, 2012
8:42 am

What the hell you been smoking Mark?

Fan of the Game

June 3rd, 2012
9:11 am

We will have to beat Spurrier. Of course then he will blame somebody other than his team and himself for the lost. He will say the SEC East was taken from them because of his schedule. You know what Steve, get use to it.

GATiger

June 3rd, 2012
9:23 am

If the Dawgs manage to get to the SCCCG, and that’s a big “if”, I don’t see how the beat essentially the same team, plus a QB with an arm, that destroyed them in December with no first downs in the first half. Our OL loses only Hebert, but gets Dworaczyk, our best O-lineman, back. All our RBs are back, plus Jeremy Hill, who might be the best of the bunch. But you just go on hoping, Dawg fans.

GATiger

June 3rd, 2012
9:28 am

And another thing… I chuckle when I hear or read about this “great defense” at UGA. Who in hell did they defend? Not SC or Boise State. Not even Florida very well. Not even Vandy. When they show up against a decent offense, I’ll pay attention.

TampaGator

June 3rd, 2012
9:32 am

My loyal Gator prediction…..

Florida’s defense will be every bit as good as Georgia’s…maybe better…and this will be the coming of age year for Driskell….and/or…..Brissett. Gillislee will have a very good year at RB, and will be supported well by Brown, Johnson, and Jones. Incoming freshmen WR phenom, Pittman, will make all the youny WRs corp a lot better, and Florida will be very strong at TE. The experienced OL will be a lot bigger, a lot better, and a lot deeper. Florida will make the fans of both Georgia and South Carolina moan on at least two Saturdays this fall……and Georgia fans will once again DEMAND a coaching change…..which will not happen…..again.

Finally…..LSU will play USC for the National Title……and win.

dawg4life

June 3rd, 2012
9:58 am

No one from the ACC has any room to talk about an easy schedule….

kingdaddy

June 3rd, 2012
10:31 am

TROLL ALERT::::TROLL ALERT::::NEWS FLASH::::TROLLS ARE SMARTER THAN EVERY SPORTS WRITER AND JOURNALIST IN THIS COUNTRY! ALL TROLLS ARE INVITED TO FILL OUT APPLICATIONS FOR SPORTS JOURNALIST JOBS!!!
Nearly every sports outlet sees the big picture of UGAs Defense. Last year, UGAs Offense and Special Teams coughed up the ball too many times in the 4 big losses. No Defense could survive that. You idiots laughing at our Defense, are the Madman laughing at the Moon. The Experts see it, the Trolls can’t or won’t …

The Truth is in the Coaching

June 3rd, 2012
10:34 am

kingdaddy

June 3rd, 2012
10:38 am

Trolls are THE COURT JESTERS. Put the Trolls in little Clown Cars and let them ride on the field blowing their little Clown Horns at Half-time…

The Truth is in the Coaching

June 3rd, 2012
10:39 am

kingdaddy

June 3rd, 2012
10:31 am
TROLL ALERT::::TROLL ALERT::::NEWS FLASH::::TROLLS ARE SMARTER THAN EVERY SPORTS WRITER AND JOURNALIST IN THIS COUNTRY! ALL TROLLS ARE INVITED TO FILL OUT APPLICATIONS FOR SPORTS JOURNALIST JOBS!!!
Nearly every sports outlet sees the big picture of UGAs Defense. Last year, UGAs Offense and Special Teams coughed up the ball too many times in the 4 big losses. No Defense could survive that. You idiots laughing at our Defense, are the Madman laughing at the Moon. The Experts see it, the Trolls can’t or won’t …

No, you are off base. No one is saying UGA’s defense will not be pretty good. What everyone is saying is that in 2011 UGA could not run the ball against good teams consistently and had to rely on Murray to make throws with 2 linemen who were high draft picks. This year the OL is going to be like swiss cheese and the running game will not exist( bring in all the 4 and 5 star running backs you want) and in those big games without a running game you will get beat like you did in 17 of the last 19 games against ranked teams.

That is what everyone with football knowledge is aware of.

The Truth is in the Coaching

June 3rd, 2012
10:42 am

kingdaddy is on his word of the day when he has nothing to say or anything true to support his argument.

That word is TROLL.

Laughing at the LOSER- which is the Noun to describe kingdaddy.

kingdaddy

June 3rd, 2012
11:05 am

Truth, LOL
Because we probably destroyed your school on the field last year, you come here acting like someone else besides another troll might agree with you. You use facts like our OL is like Swiss Cheese.lol…and your proof is just what excatly. Murray is a Jr. this year and will be better not worse, history is on my side on this one. Also, your troll buddies were talking about our Defense, not our Offense. What experts agree with you. For every one that does, I’ll show you 4 that don’t. You have lost any credibility you ay have had, but then you don’t care about credibility do you???

techgrad12

June 3rd, 2012
11:07 am

@I dropped my friend twinkie: Paul Johnson is possibly the most overrated coach in history. Look at his declining record as his players replace Gailey’s. He can’t recruit. Look at his record in games in which the other team has an off week to prepare. His offense is a gimmick, joke. He has this Chuck Norris like following on campus but its ridiculously underserved. The team has no depth and that is why GT has no special teams or defense or any chance to beat teams like VT and clemson on a regular basis. I’m a fan but its hard to cheer on CPJ.

Reality Dawg

June 3rd, 2012
11:14 am

AND… FOR THE 27th YEAR IN A ROW….

THE AJC HAS AWARDED UGA THE PRE-SEASON NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP!

Congratulations Dawg Nation!

PaulPaul

June 3rd, 2012
11:21 am

Our big question is OL but I think this is lamented too much. While young most of them have been in the system for two years. They have to practice against what may be the best defense in the country day in and day out. I doubt that any team they face regular season will have a defense even close to what they see in practice. I think Theus is capable of contributing as a freshman ( remember Sturdivant and Ben Jones). By the time we get to SC barring injuries this team will be experienced.
The thing I see causing the most concern is kicking game with two freshman. They both have great ability but the pressure of kicking in college is a world apart from high school.
The Missouri game is way over blown as a potential trap. Their defense is not very good and if the QB remains hurt it wil be a long day for them. Even with him we beat them handily. Auburn game is my biggest fear. We embarrassed them and they won’t forget that.
I see a good chance to run the table.

kingdaddy

June 3rd, 2012
11:21 am

You’re an English Major and a LIAR, LOL…You want to call me names because you can’t argue the point with facts. What school are you a fan of, you intentionally forgot to tell us? That’s what makes you a troll. As a Bulldawg Fan, I’m proud of my school, not embarrassed like you. I think that makes you the LOSER. Verb or noun, it doesn’t matter to me…

Reality Dawg

June 3rd, 2012
11:55 am

A UGA FOOTBALL FANS COOKBOOK

BAKED IMPLOSION

Ingredients:
Recruiting (2 5-Stars, 12 4-Stars, and a pinch of 3-Stars)
Steroids (Finely shaved testosterone and a sprinkling of HGH)
Cushy Academics (The Fundamentals of Basketball and Correcrions Officer Training Courses)
Fan Base Ignorante (freshly picked fans with no college education typically found in SEC stadiums)
Fan Base Dilusionante (fans with a worthless college degree typically saturated with Bourbon)
Large Metro Newspaper Hype
One Lean Mediocre Offensive Coordinator
One Head Coach (Mild)
A Large Stadium
Depression Figs
A Flat Screen TV (preferably HD to get full flavor)

Instructions:
1) In Early Spring, begin touting your recruits to the Fan Base Ignorante (if they have Internet)
2) In June, begin touting your recruits to Fan Base Dilusionante
3) Season the program with an abundant amount of hype (don’t be bashful)
4) Allow the large metro newspaper hype to marinate through the entire summer.
5) Before baking, sprinkle some coach talk from the mild head coach on the other ingredients.
6) Set aside some of the ingredients as they cannot be used (due to incarceration, DUI, etc.)
7) Place all the ingredients in the large stadium and bake slowly for first two months at 90 degrees
8) When ingredients burn due to something we like to call The Spurrier effect, add Depression Fig
9) Reduce temperature to the low 70s for the next month.
10) Watch out for the Vandy-wine. If it boils, add more Depression Fig.
11) Reduce temperature to 40s for the last month.
12) Allow dish to cool on its way to Shreveport.
13) Terminate head coach

DEE-lish!!

kingdaddy

June 3rd, 2012
11:57 am

Truth ???
You are a TROLL THAT’S TROLLING,LMAO…WOW, NOUNS AND VERBS!!!
Truth you are an idiot and that’s a fact: from the latin factum, is something that has really occurred or is actually the case, as in “You have been verified as an troll and that is a proven fact! “

Wreckmaniac

June 3rd, 2012
11:58 am

The only way UGA will see ATL will be to get another gift semi-conference champ as they got last year when they were beat by USC.

kingdaddy

June 3rd, 2012
12:02 pm

Reality dawg=Truth=Troll=Jealous Loser who doesn’t want anyone to know which school this CRYBABY GOES TO!!!

kingdaddy

June 3rd, 2012
12:08 pm

Wreckmanic
You have to rejoice in another team beating UGA, because your team is so pathetic and apparently, so are you. Anyway, S.C.couldn’t even beat a team we destroyed. Please explain that one…

Rick James

June 3rd, 2012
12:21 pm

@Bradley, up to same ole horses***

Hey Rick James,you missed the point idiot.
——————————————————–
Normally I dont respond to name callers because it says so much about their intelligence but..I didnt miss the point you’re slamming Bradley for his opinion which is something idiots do..I was defending him.

Rick James

June 3rd, 2012
12:28 pm

@kingdaddy

Wreckmanic
You have to rejoice in another team beating UGA, because your team is so pathetic and apparently, so are you. Anyway, S.C.couldn’t even beat a team we destroyed. Please explain that one…
———————————————————————————————————————
I cant understand why people dont put the blame where it lies when it somes to SC not winning the east last year.All they had to was beat a not that good Auburn team at home and they win the division.They lost the game so its Georgia’s fault because they didnt have to play LSU,Alabama and Arkansas? When your team plays an ACC schedule you cant call any other team’s schedule weak..

TampaGator

June 3rd, 2012
12:40 pm

@Beast of the East……

My prediction: The Gators will be all the way back in the East in 2012….and again in 2013.

kingdaddy

June 3rd, 2012
12:59 pm

@Rick James
What’s so funny, is they didn’t play LSU OR ALABAMA EITHER!!! What do you expect from a troll???