Dawgs Control Destiny
Han Vance on Georgia football: We are in. As the CFP (College Football Playoff) committee rankings were revealed, with a few notable surprises, last night, it became crystal clear that the committee (the CFP governing body, a group of experts who chop it up and decide not only the four-team playoff, but all of the New Year’s 6 bowl pairings, solely) does like GEORGIA.
After suffering the worst loss of any top 10 team – and again only these CFP rankings matter at all now, utterly invalidating in any relevancy both the Coaches Poll and the Associated Press (“AP”) Poll, as well as the FPI (Football Power Index) – UGA had a big problem.
See, Oklahoma had made two straight CFPs with a regular season loss, losing to Georgia in the epic Rose Bowl I attended, then Bama last year in round 1 (of just two rounds, four teams). So the precedent was surely there for OU to get in, and none of us saw where the lone Big 12 not-OU upset win was going to come from, with them ruling the conference with an iron glove and their Bama grad transfer Jalen Hurts playing as good or better than anybody in America. K-State did Georgia and the SEC a solid.
Media darlings forever Notre Dame had lost head-to-head to Ol’ Georgia, barely, in Athens, but the Fighting Irish had an advantage over Georgia in both strength of schedule and public perception, considering their lone loss was to a strong team. ‘Dogs had that bad loss to the Chickens, at home. It was big picture advantage Georgia when they took another L to Michigan, just in passing them. Georgia could use the Irish (#15) to continue to win out, now, and they barely did win Saturday versus VaTech.
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Florida winning out looks likely. They come in with two losses at #10 – Georgia’s only “top 10 win.”
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Again, a la LSU at unranked-now Texas, where “Horns Down” hurt Bayou Bengals rep badly, a big win is only, a highly-valued by the committee top 10 win if the losing team is in the top 10 of the FINAL CFP ranking. The committee will release their rankings every Tuesday night. Then a little quicker after the conference championship games, a final poll and bowl pairings. A dozen teams make the NY6 but only a set of four can win it all. Ohio State and Georgia washout Justin Fields are number one, because Texas and Florida, who LSU beat, both tumbled. Especially considering Texas fell out of the top 25 completely.
At #5, Clemson looks like the biggest lock in the country with a soft schedule.
While Alabama has the recent history of twice winning the national championship without winning the SEC West and of getting in every CFP, and also of doing their best when slotted lowest on-trend, ESPN and the national media are campaigning HARD for Alabama out if they lose at home, to LSU. Their schedule has been garbage. Alabama has a 31-game home winning streak, the longest in the storied history of the SEC, and a loss at home won’t kill their chances. Because Saban can spin it that well on TV, because the committee takes into account injuries. DING DING DING!!! If Bama were to lose, the committee can agree with Saban that they would not have if Tua was at full strength. ESPN is dead wrong in writing Alabama off if LSU wins. They’d fall not far at all with a close loss and may get back in the CFP. They lost at home to LSU, when only two teams made it, then got a rematch and shut the Tigers down. The loser of the SEC tilt this weekend will have a shot to get in the CFP. LSU has a decent resume, still.
Speaking of Bama, though, Kirby’s Dawgs remind me a whole bunch of Gene Stallings era Tide. Georgia is the first team in the last 20 years to not yield any rushing touchdowns through eight games. Georgia has a great kicker, a top-tier game manager at QB who knows how to eke out wins in low-scoring games. He’s getting better at that as time ticks. Georgia has the top defense in the SEC. They protect the ball and the passer, yielding the least sacks of any team in the country. Georgia has the top running game in the SEC (for a third straight year) and the top individual runner (Swift), in a league built on defense and running football. Physicality!
Since this Dan Fouts-era like infusion of recent spread passing attacks, no SEC team has won it all. Back when Bama miraculously got past a superiorly-talented Georgia in Atlanta in overtime, that team was led by a running quarterback in all but the final half-game of the season. Don’t forget Bama got blown out badly by Clemson 44-16 last season, with Tua flinging it around the yard. LSU was already fairly stymied by an above-average Auburn and has a suspect defense that enables shootouts to happen, too often.
If defense still wins championships…