This time last season, Bulldog Nation was buzzing.
The Georgia football team had just beaten Florida badly, and three days later the Bulldogs were ranked first in the College Football Playoff rankings.
Later that week, Georgia beat South Carolina and stayed No. 1. But, the following week, the Bulldogs got trounced by Auburn and fell in the rankings.
Georgia never made it back to the top spot, but Georgia did proceed to beat Kentucky, then Georgia Tech and then Auburn in the rematch to win the SEC and get into the playoff for the first time.
Of course, the Bulldogs topped Oklahoma in the thrilling Rose Bowl game in their playoff semifinal before then suffering that tough defeat to SEC rival Alabama in the national title game in Atlanta.
This year, the release of the first College Football Playoff rankings came and went without much fanfare in Bulldog Nation.
When addressing the media Tuesday at the Butts-Mehre building on campus, UGA coach Kirby Smart admitted to forgetting that the rankings were even coming out yesterday.
He was too busy preparing for Saturday’s game at Kentucky to give it much thought.
Well, for what it’s worth, Georgia checked in at No. 6 in the initial rankings list.
As expected, Alabama occupied the top spot. Clemson was No. 2, LSU was third and Notre Dame was fourth. Perhaps, you could debate the order of the Tigers and the Fighting Irish, but all four teams are unbeaten and were expected to be in the top four spots Tuesday night in the first rankings.
Michigan was fifth, then Georgia. The Dogs were followed by Oklahoma, Washington State, Kentucky and and Ohio State to round out the top 10. All those teams have just one loss thus far.
For the record, Florida was 11th with two losses, and UCF was No. 12 at 7-0, so I am sure the Knights’ fans are crying foul already.
Just so you know, no team ranked No. 3 in the first rankings has ever made the playoff. So, if you are a Notre Dame hater, then maybe that trend will continue for your sake.
Thing is, even if the Irish lose, they might still get into the top four. That will depend on what else happens with some of these other one-loss teams and how the committee thinks they all stack up in the end.
You figure Michigan will be in the top four next week, after LSU loses on Saturday in that titanic showdown with Alabama. But can Michigan run the table? Can the Wolverines beat Penn State this week and also nemesis Ohio State on Thanksgiving weekend and then also win the Big Ten title game?
What would happen if LSU did upset the Crimson Tide this week? Well, the Tigers would be sitting pretty, I know that.
The bigger question might be what would the rankings committee do with the Tide? My guess is they would remain in the top four for now, barring something as strange as a blow-out loss to the Tigers.
But what would happen to the Tide in the end? Well, you figure the SEC champion is getting in, but like last year, they might get in also. Right now that probably just depends on how all these one-loss teams do and who wins conference titles and maybe even who looks the most impressive doing so.
And what about Georgia?
Well, UGA fans, first off there’s this Kentucky team that the Bulldogs might want to worry about for now, and not these rankings. I don’t think that game in Lexington is going to be as easy for Georgia as some people think it might.
If the Georgia players are thinking that same thing, then you might want to settle in for a nerve-racking Saturday afternoon.
Thing is, I would not be surprised to see Georgia win on Saturday and qualify for the SEC title game, but lose to Auburn or Georgia Tech and likely end any playoff hopes they might have. Laugh if you want, that’s OK.
This Georgia bunch is talented, but the Bulldogs are young and immature and their weaknesses were exposed in that loss to LSU.
Yeah, I think it was just a bad Saturday on the bayou, especially for Jake Fromm.
But that big ole offensive line got whipped at times last week against Florida, the run defense leaks sometimes like the toilet in my master bedroom and Jim Chaney is still calling the plays, right? (I really just threw that one in there for those of you Saturday afternoon quarterbacks who question the play-calling anytime Georgia falls behind on the scoreboard.)
Having said all that, Georgia could run the table to the SEC title game and keep all its hopes and dreams alive.
Thing is, those will die on the Mercedes-Benz turf just like they did last year, only this loss to Bama will send the Dogs somewhere other than the playoff.
Where might that be?
Well, with Bama and LSU currently in the top four, most people have them in the Suger Bowl against Oklahoma. Yes, ain’t really nothing wrong with playing in the Sugar Bowl, but how excited would Bulldog Nation be about that?
It was just in New Orleans for the LSU game in Baton Rouge, and does a rematch with the Sooners just a year later entice Dawg fan?
I’ve also seen Georgia in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl in Atlanta at Mercedes-Benz against UCF.
A trip to Atlanta isn’t all that attractive, other than it’s close and easy and not all that expensive for anyone living in the state, compared to a bowl game a little further from home.
As for UCF as the opponent, well Georgia would maybe have a chance to play an undefeated team and keep the Knights from claiming another mythical national championship by ending their dream of a second straight unbeaten season.
I’ve also seen UGA against UCF in the Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Ariz., which might be the most attractive option for both teams, short of making the playoff.
For now, all this is simply speculation for fun’s sake.
The results on the field and the politics that take place as a result will determine where everyone is ranked and goes in the bowl season.
The first games of the stretch run that will determine everything come up this weekend.
November football starts now.