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Are the Georgia Bulldogs the Real Deal in 2013?

The Georgia Bulldogs had a ridiculous first month of the college football season. The Bulldogs opened the season against the top 10 Clemson Tigers. They took a loss in Death Valley and many analysts felt as if Aaron Murray could not win the big game. They had to come back the next week and take on another top 10 team in the South Carolina Gamecocks. This game was at home and the Bulldogs pulled out the victory. After a layup game versus North Texas the Bulldogs had to take on yet another top 10 team; this time it was the LSU Tigers. Another win between the hedges put Georgia at 3-1 to end one of the most difficult months in recent college football history. Does this mean that Georgia is the real deal?

Georgia’s Defense

Although the Georgia Bulldogs are 3-1 after the brutal September schedule I have not been impressed with their defense. They have given up 35, 30, 21 and 41 in four games. If they did not have a senior quarterback that has NFL talent there is no way they would have won three games. In fact, the SEC is known for defense yet this Georgia team is winning in shootouts. As long as Aaron Murray stays healthy the Bulldogs will be able to score but it may be the case that they run into a game in which they need to hold someone to win. If that is the case I don’t like the Bulldogs chances. Clemson and LSU walked up and down the field on Georgia. I would think that Alabama will be able to do the same thing. Until the Georgia defense gets better I cannot put them in the BCS National Title talk.

Now that the Georgia defense has survived a difficult first month I will be interested to see how they settle in during the easier part of the schedule. If they can put things together, stop the run and improve on their total yards given up this team could be very good. There is no argument to be made that the Georgia Bulldogs can score points. The only issue is if the Georgia Bulldogs can stop the other team from scoring points. Giving up over 21 points in all four games of the season, so far, is a cause for concern.

Georgia’s Offense

The shining star for the Georgia Bulldogs has been Aaron Murray. He will go down as the SEC’s most prolific passer after passing fellow Bulldog David Greene. Even though many have criticized Murray for not being able to win the big game he has now beaten a top 10 team twice in the same month. It is important to note that both of these games were at home. When Georgia plays between the hedges they seem to be a much different team. Even though they don’t have many extremely tough road games coming up they will still be challenged just because it is the SEC. Even the bottom half of the SEC causes problems when teams have to hit the road.

If Georgia is going to be a national title contender they need Aaron Murray to continue to be the quarterback he has been in the past month. A strong running game will only improve Murray’s game. One of Georgia’s strengths is their running game. An improved offensive line and rushing attack will make this a very potent offense. Before we make any long term predictions about the overall strength of the Georgia offense we will need to see how they play on the road. This week they go to Knoxville to play a Tennessee team that is not very good. If Georgia cannot score over 27 points on this Tennessee team in Neyland Stadium there might be some cause for concern. If Aaron Murray and the offense put up some huge points we might be talking about an SEC Championship game lock.

The SEC Championship Game

Just the other day I heard a few experts mention that Georgia was a shoe in for the SEC Championship game. Before we crown them SEC East Champions I want to see them go on the road and win some games. Playing at home is one thing but going on the road and winning in a hostile environment is another thing. Having a senior QB that will be the most prolific passer in SEC history sure helps when it comes to winning big time road games. That said, there are still some that are worried about the Bulldogs defense. If the Bulldogs defense cannot stop anyone at home how are they going to stop anyone on the road. A few road trips will help us make a much better assessment of this team. Right now, they definitely deserve to be in the top 10 but I would not give them the SEC East title just yet.

Florida and South Carolina are not playing their best football right now but anything can happen in the SEC. We have learned this over the past several years. Florida often gets better as the season goes on. If Florida can get on a roll they may end up beating Georgia in Jacksonville and heading into the SEC Championship. Some people discounted Florida solely because they lost their starting QB for the year. If the Florida defense plays as good as most people think they can they will be able to compete with any team in the country by shortening the game.

There are very few teams that have the ability to shorten the game in college football these days. Alabama had to score 49 to beat Texas A&M and Oregon scores 60 points a game. If the Florida defense can slow down the opposition’s offense and Florida can run the ball this might be a way to win some ugly games. Georgia has proven they cannot stop anybody. With this being the case Florida may be able to run it right down their throat, every single play, until Georgia does something to stop them. If Georgia decides to bring up the safeties and put more men in the box we will see Florida go over the top for some long gains. This is old school football that has worked for the last century. Whether or not Florida will be able to run the ball right at Georgia, Texas A&M or Alabama has yet to be seen.

Running the Ball in the SEC

Anyone that has read my columns or talked college football with me knows that I feel as if some teams can run the football and stop the run to win a national championship. There are a few teams that can install a new offense that scores a ton of points to win games but these programs are few and far between. The teams that can play old school, smash mouth football tend to be the traditional schools like Texas, Alabama, Florida and LSU. The teams that want to toss the ball all over the field and score points are Oregon, Louisville and Texas Tech. Interestingly, the high scoring offenses seem to do very well in the regular season but they do not do so well when a big game is on the line. Oregon has won BCS Bowl Games but they have not won a National Championship game.

Texas A&M scores tons of points but they struggle when they are in a big game against a team with an excellent defense. Ultimately, the teams that run the ball straight at Texas A&M often end up beating them. Texas A&M scores very quickly which means their defense will be on the field much more than their offense. This can cause fatigue for the defense and when they need a stop they just don’t have the energy. I have seen this time and again with Oregon and Texas Tech. When a defense doesn’t have time to rest they are going to be a little bit lazy when they are on the field.

I can remember watching the early 2000s Texas Tech teams score 50 and 60 points a game. They would win nine or 10 games a year but they could never beat Texas or Oklahoma. Teams that ran the ball straight at them ended up tiring out the defense. As soon as the Texas Tech offense got on the field they would try to score as quickly as possible. Even if they were successful scoring it did not allow their defense to get any rest. This is a recipe for disaster and injuries. Some coaches have learned they need to learn to slow down and run the ball. In the SEC it is almost always the case that the team that runs the ball better ends up winning the game. If Georgia can run the ball very well, control the clock and stop the run they will be a contender for the 2013 BCS National Championship.

LSU vs Georgia 2013

On Saturday, September 28th, 2013 Athens, Georgia will hold the attention of millions of college football games. The Bayou Bengals from LSU will come to town to take on the Georgia Bulldogs between the hedges. This is a huge game for both teams as it matches up the #6 LSU Tigers vs the #9 Georgia Bulldogs. The winner of this game will be sitting pretty when it comes to a BCS spot come college football bowl season. One game, a season does not make, but this one game could break Georgia’s season. The Bulldogs lost to the Clemson Tigers to open the season and another loss might ruin their hopes of going to a BCS Bowl Game without an SEC conference championship. Here are a few things to watch for in this game.

The LSU Defensive Line

It is amazing to see the rotation of the LSU defensive line year in and year out. In 2013, LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis has a two deep that will challenge any offensive front in the country. This has been true for many years with LSU. I don’t know what they feed the kids down there in Louisiana but it is not what I ate as a child. Last year LSU had a defensive end that weighed 250 pounds and could run a 4.4 second 40 yard dash. Even though he graduated, LSU reloaded and still has some amazing talent along the defensive front. One thing that is unique with this LSU team is the defensive backfield is a little more experienced than the defensive front. This means that Georgia QB Aaron Murray might not be as big of a factor as the Georgia running backs. Listen for the name Todd Gurley during the CBS broadcast on Saturday afternoon.

If the LSU defensive line can get interior pressure during the game in Athens it will be interesting to see how Georgia reacts. Running the ball is necessary to win big games in the SEC but some teams have accepted they need to throw the ball to set up the run. I honestly don’t know if that will be possible against LSU. If there were ever a year in which teams could run the ball on first or second down this might be the year. If you want to throw on LSU good luck. LSU is currently giving up 136 rush yards a game which is a huge number for any LSU team. As stated earlier, the front seven is younger than usual so this team is sure to get better. How quickly they will improve might be determined this week at Georgia.

The Georgia Running Backs

With the LSU defensive line being a little bit young this might be the year that Georgia has a running back run for over 150 yards versus the Tigers. In the past decade not many teams have been able to run the ball down the throat of the LSU Tigers. In fact, the opposite was often true. The national championship LSU teams were known for getting the ball and methodically running a 15 to 20 play drive that just deflated the other team. If Georgia can do that on Saturday it will be interesting to see how the young LSU defensive line reacts. By putting more pressure on these young players the Georgia running backs could end up winning the game when all is said and done.

Anyone that is on scholarship to be a running back at Georgia has talent. Some end up doing better than others by their senior year but they are all very talented. Something very interesting in the SEC is running backs that have a few big games at a time. It is shocking to see how many running backs have a two or three game stretch in which they are amazing. As the season progresses a few things slow them down. Defensive coordinators get game tapes on their tendencies and the physical wear and tear on their bodies makes it difficult to keep up the pace. This is why the running backs that have an amazing full season in the SEC are often up for the Heisman Trophy.

The UGA Crowd

Home field advantage in the SEC is huge. It is hard to place into words how important it is to get the crowd involved in these types of Saturday games. One of the biggest advantages of the home team is getting off the ball. When LSU is on offense the crowd is going to be extremely loud. This makes it hard for the offensive lineman to hear the quarterback. Some teams will use a silent snap in which the quarterback simply lifts up his foot. Unfortunately, the defensive players can see this and they get a quick jump off the ball. There is no argument to be made that most of the big sack games for defensive players happen when they are at home. Not having to worry about anything but the quarterbacks foot is a huge advantage for any player coming off the ball. Watch for this on Saturday.

The home field advantage is usually worth about a field goal in a college football game. In the SEC it might be worth a little bit more than that. The crowd in Athens will be ready to go by 3:30 pm. The fact that this is the SEC game of the week on CBS means a large percentage of diehards will be out several hours before the game. Tailgating and the overall atmosphere is very special in the south. It will come as no surprise that some fans will start the tailgating process on Friday night. Getting geared up for a game for several hours means Sanford Stadium will be rocking at 3:30 pm est. If you have never been to an SEC football game on a Saturday afternoon it is definitely worth the experience. Fans know their football and they are willing to get very loud.

Aaron Murray

Over the past several years the quarterback of Georgia, Aaron Murray, has built up a reputation for losing the big game. Prior to beating South Carolina earlier this season Murray was thought of as the worst big game quarterback in the SEC. After that win the critics have pulled back a little bit, but they will be out again if LSU wins the game at Georgia. Against top 15 teams Aaron Murray is simply a different player. All the blame cannot be placed on him as football is a team sport. That said, after more than five or six losses some of the blame needs to go on the quarterback that has been there through all of those losses.

I have never been a huge fan of Aaron Murray. I have nothing against him as he has been a good kid while in college but he hasn’t been able to consistently win the big game. I am not sure if it is coaching or just the inability to deal with the pressure. During the LSU Tigers game on Saturday afternoon Murray will have many things in his favor. He will be at home and the LSU defensive front is not nearly as good as it was in past years. That said, the LSU secondary is unreal. This is one of the tallest and most physical secondaries I have seen in quite some time. I do not expect to see Aaron Murray throw for 300 yards versus LSU. In fact, he may not even need to throw for 200 yards. He needs to manage the game and not make the big mistake. This is sometimes difficult for a quarterback that has been known to make mistakes in the past.

I feel as if Aaron Murray can truly silence the critics if he can beat the LSU Tigers this weekend. He has already beaten South Carolina. A win versus LSU will put Georgia ahead of the pack in the SEC East to go to the SEC Championship game in Atlanta. The schedule is not easy for Georgia so a win against the Bayou Bengals will go a very long way towards helping their argument for a BCS spot during the bowl season. All of this will be a moot point if Georgia can win out and win the SEC Championship game. If Georgia wins out and wins the SEC Championship game there is a very good chance they will be in the national championship game.

An SEC team that goes undefeated is guaranteed a spot in the BCS national championship game. A one loss SEC team has a great shot at the BCS national championship if the cards fall in the right way. I firmly believe a one loss SEC team is probably in a much better position to compete for a national title than an undefeated team in some of the other conferences. That will be the topic for tomorrow so check it out.

Who is the favorite to go to the 2014 BCS Championship?

Crimson Tide Vs LSU Tigers

Tide Vs Tigers face off on Nov 9th.

Following their defeat of the Texas A & M Aggies in College Station the Alabama Crimson Tide are again odds on favorites to finish number one in the country and represent the SEC in the BCS title game in Pasadena on January 6th. A title game appearance by the Tide would be their fourth in five years. Under Nick Saban they are a perfect 3-0 in title games. Alabama’s remaining schedule is conducive to a potential undefeated season, but is not without pitfalls. Here’s a look at the three remaining matchups that could blemish Alabama’s potentially undefeated season.

Saturday, November 9th versus LSU: The Tigers and Crimson Tide have formed a tremendous rivalry over the past five years with the annual matchup typically deciding the SEC West. Les Miles and his staff have their typical roster full of future athletic players, with the offense again being the big question mark. Since LSU defeated Alabama 9-6 two years ago the Tigers have struggled offensively versus Alabama, including a whitewashing in the 2011 title game. Zach Mettenberger has been efficient and protected the football this season and the Tigers have a stud running back in Jeremy Hill. LSU will be entering a tough environment in Tuscaloosa, but if Mettenberger can limit his turnovers the Tigers defense should make it a close game.

Saturday, November 30th at Auburn: The annual Iron Bowl should be a closer contest this season with Gus Malzahn in at head coach of the Tigers. Auburn has their usual talented roster but had perhaps the worst head coach in all of college football the past few years in Gene Chizik. Malzahn is an elite offensive mind and the Tigers offense should continue to improve all season. The big question is the defense, a unit that has struggled in early season non-conference play at times. After falling behind quickly in a tough environment at LSU the Tigers rebounded and made the game respectable, showing a grit they lacked last season.

 SEC Championship Game

SEC Championship Trophy


SEC Championship Game: If the Tide can navigate the regular season undefeated they’ll face a tough opponent in the SEC championship game. The trio of Georgia, South Carolina and Florida all could stiff competition for Alabama, especially if Georgia wins the right to represent the SEC East in the title game in Atlanta. All three teams present unique challenges to the Crimson Tide. Under quarterback Andy Murray and running back Todd Gurley the Georgia Bulldogs have a high powered offense that put big numbers on the board versus Clemson and South Carolina and should be able to move the ball versus the Tide. The question mark for Georgia is their young defense, although they are a talented bunch that will have a full regular season behind them by the time they reach the SEC title game.

South Carolina is playing from behind after a loss to Georgia, but are a well coached and talented bunch that could very well run the rest of their schedule undefeated. They have a versatile dual threat quarterback in Connor Shaw and a game-breaking running back in Mike Davis. The defense is led by Jadeveon Clowney, the odds on number one overall pick in next spring’s NFL draft. If the Gamecocks can reach the SEC title game they may give the Crimson Tide their toughest opponent.

Due to their struggles at quarterback the Florida Gators may be a longshot to reach the SEC title game, but have a deep roster with an elite defense. If the offense can get sorted out in conference play the Gators have the depth of talent on defense to give the Bama offense fits. Unfortunately for the Gators their schedule is brutal with trips to LSU and South Carolina. They get the Georgia Bulldogs at home in their traditional rivalry game, aka “The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party”.

Alabama’s remaining schedule is highly favorable to an undefeated regular season and a return to the BCS Title game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. They’ll receive tough opposition from LSU on November 9th and in the SEC title game, but the odds are Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide will be back in the BCS Title game on January 6th. By:Chris Michaels

Can Anyone Beat Alabama?

Can Anyone Beat Alabama?

Can Anyone Beat Alabama?

Just three weeks into the season and already the questions are buzzing around. How good are the Alabama Crimson Tide? Can they be beaten? Head coach Nick Saban is the master of minimizing the probability of losing. It’s very simple, really. Don’t turn the ball over, force turnovers on defense, run the football aggressively using zone and power run schemes, and pass out of play action, which are safer throws for the quarterback.

Is there anyone on the schedule that can defeat the Crimson Tide? Well, they all have the opportunity to beat them, but talking and doing are two very different things. How in the world can anyone win against Alabama?

Alabama has a far superior defense (giving up just 4.6 points and 58 rushing yards per game) than most. To beat it, a team will have to find an advantage that slows ‘Bama down play after play. Western Kentucky, for example, used a variety of shifts and motions to get some type of advantage by formation (didn’t work that well as they were crushed 35-0 by the Tide in week two).

An opponent must play within their system to beat Alabama. If you are a power running football team, you must stick to it and not try and become a spread offense in a week. It won’t work. And, while you’re at it, do not turn the ball over. One turnover and Saban’s troops will make you pay.

The Alabama offense is notorious for its power running game that uses zone and power runs. The offensive line is big, fast, and just plain good. And, ‘Bama has a slew of running backs that will just keep pounding on a defense. The running game sets up a very good play-action passing game where QB A.J. McCarron is very effective at making all the necessary throws. In order to beat this offense, an opponent’s defense has to sell out and take away what the offense does best. In this case, do whatever it takes to stop the run! Then you pray that the passing game doesn’t beat you.

A ‘Bama opponent can gain some knowledge by looking at some of the Tide’s past failures. For example, in wins over Florida and Tennessee last year, Saban was livid late in those games when both the Florida Gators and the Vols used a two-tight end formation and his defense could not get aligned correctly. The result? Florida and Tennessee were able to move the ball against the Tide, albeit versus mostly second- and third-teamers. Interestingly, both Florida head coach Will Muschamp and Tennessee head man Derek Dooley coached under Saban at some point.

If you plan on beating Alabama, you must have a head coach who is well-schooled in the art of JEDI mind tricks. You know, the type of narrative that Lou Holtz would deliver before his Fighting Irish would take on Navy or Rice. “I just don’t know how we’re going to beat them,” Holtz would say to reporters. If your coach can encourage that the team is outmanned and there is no way that it can win, you may have a shot.

Finally, what team has ever won without believing it could? To beat the best, which Alabama can surely lay claim to, you must believe that you can (whether you can or not). There weren’t many who believed that a bunch of amateurs could beat the world’s best in Olympic ice hockey back in 1980. But a group of young Americans and their coach believed…and they won, defeating the powerful Russian team on their way to a gold medal.

Looking at the Tide’s schedule, there is really only one opponent that has what it takes to defeat Alabama. Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina are not on the schedule this year and while Missouri, Tennessee, and Texas A&M are improving, they are not yet ready to compete with Alabama. And there will be the big rivalry game with Auburn on Thanksgiving weekend, but the Tigers have struggled in the first three weeks of the season.

Only the LSU Tigers, which was Alabama’s only blemish in the national championship run a year ago, has what it takes to beat the Tide. The Tigers have a defense capable of taking away ‘Bama’s running game. They will find advantages and benefit from past Alabama failures, and they will believe they can win…they’ve done it before. LSU will not attempt any drastic changes and coach Les Miles will stick to what he does best. Plus, Miles will work wonders in the media as he and Saban offer up their best versions of the JEDI mind tricks.

Can anyone beat Alabama? It remains to be seen. The Tide have another “tune-up” game with Florida Atlantic before getting into the SEC schedule. November 3rd is the date with the LSU and Saban’s squad will have to travel to Baton Rouge. If anyone can beat Alabama, LSU will have the best shot on the first Saturday night in November.