ESPN discusses Georgias dominating defense, CFP chances – 247Sports

Georgia is 2-0 and ranked No. 3 after a pair of conference wins with over 20-point margin of victories. ESPN touched on the Bulldogs after its 27-6 win over Auburn, including its latest predictions for the College Football Playoff. Alabama and Clemson landed on all 14 predictions and Ohio State was named in 13 of them, with Georgia being the fourth-most popular pick with seven predictions, ahead of Florida, which got five.

Chris Low’s ESPN Power Rankings have Georgia at No. 4 after Week 5.

As anemic as Georgia was offensively in the first half of its season-opening win over Arkansas a week ago, the Dawgs have looked like a different unit ever since. There was nothing fancy about what they did to Auburn on Saturday night in racing out to a 24-0 lead and winning 27-6. The Dawgs’ O-line played lights out and paved the way for 442 yards of total offense; and to nobody’s surprise, Georgia’s defense is every bit as good as advertised. Kirby Smart went with Stetson Bennett again at quarterback, and Bennett’s confidence is only growing, not to mention the confidence of everybody else around him.

Bill Connelly’s updated SP+ rankings have Georgia at No. 4, with the No. 1 defense and No. 38 offense, although teams from the Big 10 and Pac-12 who have yet to play are ranked as well. Connelly’s SP+ gives Georgia the second-best chance (44%) of going at least 9-1 in the SEC, behind Alabama (58%), with Florida third at 35 percent.

He writes of Georgia:

“While Alabama’s odds of reaching the CFP have barely changed of late, another SEC team’s odds have shifted significantly.

Per FPI, Georgia’s chance of likely reaching the CFP has increased from 25% to 45% over the past two weeks, benefiting from the Big 12’s semi-implosion and its own prowess. Despite a slow start against Arkansas in Week 4, the Dawgs have dominated over their past six quarters, first pulling away from the Hogs and then demolishing Auburn this past Saturday. They have gained ground on college football’s top three teams in both FPI and SP+. Although making the CFP would likely require them to split two games against Alabama (Oct. 17’s battle in Tuscaloosa, then a theoretical SEC championship game tussle in December), their odds of doing so are decent.

They’ll also have to beat Florida, though. Neither FPI nor SP+ are quite as sold on the Gators despite Florida’s season-opening wins against Ole Miss (51-35) and South Carolina (38-24). The primary reason is the second number in each of those two scores. SP+ projected Florida second in defensive SP+ in the preseason, but it has quickly slipped to 20th.”

It is clear that the Dawgs’ defense has put them in the national crosshairs as a legitimate College Football Playoff contender. In its two wins, Georgia has allowed just 248 yards and eight points per game, numbers that are both good for No. 4 in the country and best in the SEC. Its rush defense is allowing just 58 yards per game, tops in the conference and No. 3 in the country. Connelly discusses Georgia’s defense below.

Gus Malzahn and Chad Morris tried almost literally everything they could think of in hopes of moving the football against Georgia on Saturday. Even a 300-pound Wildcat quarterback.

But if the highlight of your performance was a player rushing twice for 4 yards, as J.J. Pegues did, that is probably saying something. Georgia snuffed out pretty much everything Auburn could come up with in the Dawgs’ suffocating 27-6 win. Bo Nix completed just 21 of 40 passes at 8.4 yards per completion, threw an interception, and took three sacks. Only one Auburn pass gained 20 yards, and the longest rush of the day was a 10-yarder by Nix. It took drives of 11 and 15 plays for the Tigers to manage two field goals.

Georgia played exactly how it was projected to play. The Dawgs were first in defensive SP+ last year and were projected a distant first this year with a motherlode of returning production. Through two games, their defensive SP+ rating, presented as an adjusted points per game figure, is 6.2. Here is the entire list of teams that have finished with a better rating in the past 30 years:

–2006 Virginia Tech (4.6)
–1991 Miami (4.9)
–2017 Alabama (5.6)

That’s it. Smart was the defensive coordinator for a couple of otherworldly defenses at Alabama (6.4 in 2011, 6.5 in 2009), but if the projections and early performances hold up, this could be his masterpiece. We’ve talked a lot about Georgia’s early-season QB issues — but with this defense, the Dawgs’ offense has to be just merely good for the team to contend. Having said that, Georgia’s offense looked pretty fantastic on a few drives against what was, heading into the game, the No. 2 defense, per defensive SP+.”

Georgia will try to add to its resume this weekend as it hosts the No. 12 ranked Tennessee Volunteers. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. ET with CBS set to televise the game.

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