Most have Georgia as one of the top teams in the country as SEC play officially gets underway on Saturday. The Bulldogs are ranked No. 4 in the AP Poll and No. 3 in the Coaches Poll. They’re once again seen as a possible playoff team.
But now it seems the Bulldogs aren’t even the favorites in their own division. The SEC released the predicted order of finish and All-SEC teams on Wednesday. The group of media voters actually picked the Florida Gators to finish ahead of the Bulldogs this season, with Florida getting 53 first-place votes compared to Georgia’s 43.
When you consider Georgia has a trip to Alabama while the Gators do not, there’s some logic that can be seen in making that selection. But it seems many remember that the Bulldogs have beaten Florida in three-consecutive seasons and Kirby Smart is 3-0 as a head coach against Dan Mullen.
That’s why when the poll results came out, there was some real surprise by some in the national media.
So wait — you guys are serious about this Florida thing? pic.twitter.com/CUO89nTg2w
— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) September 23, 2020
This is the average recruiting ranking by position of Georgia vs. Florida.
How did 53 voters out of 96 say Florida is better? pic.twitter.com/VsoCXwIEPV
— David Ubben (@davidubben) September 23, 2020
Georgia has 12 more 5-star prospects and seven more 4-star prospects. That’s more than 20 percent of the roster, and we aren’t even breaking down the difference in quality of four-stars between the two programs. https://t.co/neSIF8wjAa
— Ari Wasserman (@AriWasserman) September 23, 2020
Pretty bold to pick Florida over UGA before they’ve actually done it under Mullen https://t.co/aneaormsLj
— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) September 23, 2020
#RollTide and #Gators picked to win divisions. MUCH closer race in the East, as Alabama received 86 of 96 first-place votes. Only 8 votes for defending national champ LSU to repeat in the West. https://t.co/O6Lg9xxJmw
— Adam Rittenberg (@ESPNRittenberg) September 23, 2020
W e a r e b o r e d o k a y https://t.co/XNtX3dJaaL
— BUM CHILLUPS AKA SPENCER HALL (@edsbs) September 23, 2020
— Richard🇬🇾Johnson (@RJ_Writes) September 23, 2020
Georgia opens the 2020 season on the road against Arkansas. Florida will visit Ole Miss. The Gators do bring back quarterback Kyle Trask while the Georgia offense will look drastically different from recent iterations as Todd Monken is the new offensive coordinator. D’Wan Mathis is also expected to start on Saturday for the Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs though have a clear edge on defense, with Georgia having perhaps the top defense in the country. Three players were named to media’s First Team All-SEC Team on Wednesday, with all of them coming on the defensive side of the ball.
Only two defensive players were named to the Coaches First Team, and that clearly struck a nerve with Kirby Smart.
“I didn’t think we had a lot of preseason hype with our defense in terms of All-SEC guys,” Smart said at his press conference on Tuesday. “I would think that all the better defenses are somewhere else because I don’t know that we put but two guys maybe? I don’t know. Richard [LeCounte] and Jordan [Davis] were the only two I noticed on the accolades.
“For us to have all the great players, they’re certainly not getting recognized that way. They played really hard last year. I thought our defensive staff did a tremendous job putting them in good positions.”
Georgia is still expected to win its opening game by a wide margin, with Vegasinsider.com listing the Bulldogs as a 28-point road favorite over the Razorbacks.
As for the long-term outlook, much of that seems to hinge on how successful Monken is at integrating his fingerprints on the Georgia program. Expectations are high, as ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg compared the addition of Monken to what former LSU passing game coordinator Joe Brady did to LSU.
“Of all the key new coordinators around college football, perhaps none has a better chance to make a Brady-like impact than Monken at Georgia,” Rittenberg wrote.
ESPN also published its College Football Playoff predictor and gives the Bulldogs a 24 percent chance of making the College Football Playoff this season. The only teams with higher odds are Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, Wisconsin and UCF. The predictor gives Florida only a 10 percent of making the College Football Playoff. Georgia and Florida play each other in Jacksonville, Fla. on Nov. 7.
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