10 teams that could win it all in ’13: Georgia

AP Photo/Atlanta Journal Constitution, Jason Getz
AP Photo/Atlanta Journal Constitution, Jason Getz

Between now and the start of college football season, I’ll present you with 10 college football teams that have a realistic chance to win the national title this year. Today, the series continues with Georgia.

Georgia Bulldogs (2013 schedule)
2012 record: 12-2
Capital One Bowl champions (defeated Nebraska 45-31)

Why they could win it all: Because they were like two yards away from beating the best team in college football a year ago. Every team loses important pieces every year, as the Dawgs did in this offseason, but they’ll return most crucial players from a year ago.

There probably won’t be another duo of running backs anywhere in the country as strong as Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley. After combining for 25 touchdowns and 2,144 yards on the ground, they’ll be expected to shoulder the load as sophomores — that’s right, they’re only sophomores — and balance the passing attack.

Speaking of the passing game, quarterback Aaron Murray is one of the best signal-callers in the Southeastern Conference, and if the Dawgs start hot, he’ll quickly become a favorite to win the Heisman Trophy. He’ll have plenty of young, talented receivers on the roster, and if he improves on his 3,893 passing yards and 36 touchdowns from a year ago, UGA will be looking very strong in the national title picture.

Georgia’s defense will have to rebuild quickly, but in a conference where most offenses are a few steps behind the defenses, that shouldn’t be a problem for head coach Mark Richt, who always recruits a deep roster of talented defenders, ready to step in and fill any holes left behind by graduating players.

(More in this series: Why Alabama could win it all | Ohio State | Oregon | Clemson | Louisville)

Why they might not win it all: For one, Alabama … that darn Alabama … is still predicted to be extremely powerful this season. They’ll probably face off again in the SEC Championship, where the demons will return. The Crimson Tide are mentally strong, and if this hypothetical matchup plays out in December, it would likely be an upset if Georgia won.

In the meantime, it will be a small miracle if UGA escapes its first month without a loss. They’ll play three of the top-12 teams in the preseason top-25 poll in the first four games of the season, including a kickoff duel in Death Valley against Clemson. If they escape, they’ll host South Carolina and LSU with an easy win against North Texas sandwiched in between. If they survive all of that, they still have to beat Florida in Jacksonville in early-November. Then, (read paragraph above).

It’s not going to be easy, and there are plenty of roadblocks along the way.

Then, factor history into the equation. It’s been 33 years since the Dawgs last won a national title, though they’ve been close lately. It always seems like bad luck gets in their way, and that’s the most demoralizing kind of roadblock. There’s always one too many teams when the music stops, and Georgia always seems to get left out. They’re taking steps to combat that problem by scheduling teams like Clemson in their nonconference schedule, but the Dawgs still have to hope all the pieces fall correctly into place when they’ve failed to get lucky so many times before.

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