SportsRatings 2014 College Football Pre-season Top 128
|Georgia Bulldogs (SEC #3; East #1)|
|AP #31 USA NR||Strength:#22 Success:#20 Overall:#20|
|Record: 8-5||Bowl: Lost to Nebraska 24-19 (Gator)
|Picks: AP #12 | USA #12 | Lindy's #12 | Athlon #8 | Steele #8|
|Record: 10-2||Bowl odds: 99.8% Playoff odds: 27%|
Last year everyone had Georgia in the top 5 (we did too). They finished outside the top 25 so everyone seems a little gun-shy to put them back in the top ten, but we do.
6 ret. starters
|2013 Scoring Offense: #25 (raw) #14 (adjusted for opposition)|
|2014 Projected Scoring Offense: #14 (adjusted)
You can't expect Hutson Mason to fully replace Aaron Murray, but the running game can pick up the slack and the offense shouldn't miss a beat.
|2013 Passing Rank: #16 (raw) #13 (adjusted)||2013 Sacks Allowed (adj.): #29|
|2014 Projected Passing Rank: #17 (adjusted)
||2014 Sacks Allowed (proj.): #39|
Aaron Murray (3,075 yards, 26 TDs, 9 int) leaves after four years and backup Hutson Mason (968 yards, 5:3) will lead the team this year. Georgia had 12 players with over 100 receiving yards and 9 are back, led by Chris Conley (651 yards) and Michael Bennett (538); they also have Malcolm Mitchell (572 yards in '12) back from injury. Though they lose their all-time leading passer, Mason is a 5th-year senior and started the last two games of the season when Murray went out with an ACL tear. With so many targets available the Bulldogs should approach last year's production, though probably less efficiently.
|Rushing||2013 Rushing Rank: #67 (raw) #33 (adjusted)||2014 Projected Rushing Rank: #29 (adj.)
Todd Gurley (989 yards, 10 TDs) was one of the nation's best running backs last year but was injured and missed several games. He's back as is Keith Marshall (246) who had 759 yards in 2012 but missed most of 2013. Two others topped 300 and both are back though JJ Green is now a defensive back. The offensive line loses three starters; David Andrews is the only full-time starter back while Kolton Houston and John Theus started half-time. That's enough to support Gurley and Marshall who, if they stay healthy, should top last year's production.
|2013 Adjusted Stats:||Rush Defense: #13 Pass Defense per-game: #80 Per-attempt: #61|
9 ret. starters
|'13 Scoring Defense: #78 (raw) #47 (adjusted)||'13 sacks: #19||'13 picks: #93|
|'14 Projected Scoring Defense: #30 (adjusted)
||'14 sacks: #8||'14 picks: #81|
The Georgia defensive line returns Ray Drew (6 sacks) but Garrison Smith (6 sacks) is gone, and possible starter Jon Taylor was dismissed after being arrested twice in the offseason. The Bulldogs are set at linebacker as all four starters return: #1 tackler Ranik Wilson (133 tackles), #2 tackler Amario Herrera (112 tackles), Leonard Floyd (6.5 sacks), and Jordan Jenkins (5 sacks) form one of the nation's best corps, and the the number of sacks (33) should increase. The secondary received some back news when Tray Matthews was dismissed but otherwise is in decent shape and the D should top last year's meager 7 picks. Overall the defense returns 7 of its top 9 tacklers and should be back up near top 25 quality after last year's dip.
- Kicking Game: Kicker Marshall Morgan (22 of 24 FG) is back along with punter Collin Barber (44.1 average) so the Bulldog kicking game should remain solid.
- Return Game: RB (now CB) JJ Green was the team's best kickoff returner with a 24.0 average; he's back along with Reggie Davis who averaged just 3.3 yards per punt return.
- Turnovers projection: Mason will probably have more interceptions than Murray, but the defense should get back some of those.
- Injury correction: The offense had more than its share of injuries, and that shouldn't happen this year.
Coaching/Recruiting 2014 Recruiting Rank: #11 2013 Recruiting Rank: #2
Georgia's 2014 recruiting class is only average for the SEC. It's far smaller than last year's class which we ranked #2, but at the top it's higher-quality, with three consensus 5-star players. Two are running backs (Nick Chubb and Sony Michel) and another is a defensive lineman (Lorenzo Carter). Chubb and Carter are from Georgia, Michel from Florida.
Georgia had high expectations last year but lost right off the bat at Clemson, 38-35, and from then on they were just trying to get back in the national title hunt. They won four straight, beating LSU 44-41 but escaping vs. Tennessee 34-31 in overtime. At 4-1 they lost to Missouri at home, 41-26, and at Vanderbilt 31-27 and then even an SEC title was a longshot. They won 4 of 5 including a double overtime win at Georgia Tech with Mason leading a huge comeback, but they lost to Nebraska in the bowl game 24-19.
Last year's prediction: We ranked Georgia #4 in the nation (they were #5 in the polls) and projected a 10-2 record. We had the Bulldogs favored in every game (the cumulative projection was the 10-2). It wasn't the drop in defense that threw us off, since we projected the D would fall to #44 (it fell to #47). But the offense was supposed to jump into the top five but instead declined, mainly due to the ground game dropping. That was due to injuries to Gurley and Marshall for the most part. In any case, we ended up pretty far off—by our odds, finishing 8-4 was slightly less likely than 12-0.
Georgia 2014 schedule & forecast
Straight up: 12-0 Cume: 10-2 Bowl eligible: 99.8%
Look familiar? Just like last year we favor Georgia in every game—if the South Carolina and Auburn tossup games fall their way. There are a lot more close games than we had for the Bulldogs last year, so the cumulative projection is right on the cusp of 9-3 and 10-2, with a 5% chance of going undefeated.
This year's game against Clemson is in Athens and the Tigers aren't the team they were last year—true, both teams lose their star quarterbacks, but Clemson loses more overall. The Bulldogs should win that game and then they have 2 weeks to prepare for South Carolina, which is anyone's ball game. It also might be the deciding game in the SEC East, this early in the year.
The three games at home should all be breathers—should be. Troy, of course, but Tennessee almost beat the Bulldogs last year, and Vanderbilt did beat them. Much tougher are Missouri and Florida, with Arkansas and Kentucky somewhere in between.
Auburn is a key game that could affect both the East and West division races. The Bulldogs are at home which might make them the favorite. After the annual SEC vacation week of playing FCS teams in November, they face rival Georgia Tech and this year's game shouldn't be as close as the last one, but you never know.
Since Georgia is our top SEC East team, they have a great shot at making it to the championship game, where they'd be an underdog but all this gives them a good shot at the College Football Playoff. We estimate their odds at roughly 27%; we've raised them from earlier estimates after we factored in their good chances of being in the SEC title game, which is a doorway to the CFP.
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SportsRatings 2014 College Football Pre-season Top 128