FBS Preseason Top 10 Countdown: No. 5

By Greg Romagna

We have finally made it to the top 5 teams in my preseason top 10 countdown. At No. 5, the SEC has yet another representative:

5. Georgia Bulldogs

2011 Record: 10-4 (7-1 SEC)

Bowl Game: Lost to Michigan State 33-30 (3OT) in Outback Bowl

Overview: At the start of 2011, coach Mark Richt’s seat was the hottest it had been since he arrived in Athens in 2001. Losing the first two games against Boise State and South Carolina didn’t make things any easier for Richt but his team showed resolve and went out and won 10 straight and brought Richt his first SEC Championship Game appearance since 2005. Georgia would lose their next two games, the SEC Championship to LSU and the Outback Bowl to Michigan State, which brought up dissatisfaction from the Georgia faithful who openly wondered if this team had what it takes to win big games anymore. Fast forward to 2012 and the Bulldogs are a favorite to not only return to the SEC Championship Game, but to possibly leave it victorious. Georgia benefits from not having to face Alabama, LSU, and Arkansas for the second straight year but the team will have to overcome suspensions and dismissals of some key players for the first few weeks of the season.

Offensive Player to Watch: Aaron Murray (Redshirt Jr.) – Quarterback

Aaron Murray enters his third year as the starting quarterback for Georgia and may just be the best quarterback in the SEC. The redshirt junior has had a very productive career thus far, throwing 59 touchdowns in his two seasons as the starter, putting him on pace to break Danny Wuerffel’s SEC touchdown record of 114. While Murray has produced in his first two seasons in Athens, he has shown lapses in judgment that have sometimes cost his team. If Murray improves on his sometimes shaky decision making, the Bulldogs could have a very special year.

MCT

Defensive Player to Watch: Jarvis Jones (Redshirt Jr.) – Linebacker

2011 was Jarvis Jones’ first taste of SEC action, but you wouldn’t know it by the way he played. The redshirt sophomore had an All-American season and was a finalist for the prestigious Butkus Award, given annually to the nation’s top college linebacker. Jones got to the quarterback at an alarming rate, securing 13.5 sacks which was good enough for most sacks in the SEC and fifth most in the NCAA. The Columbus, Ga. native’s decision to come back to UGA instead of declaring for the NFL Draft fortifies an already strong defense and will likely have the Bulldogs in contention for the title of the best defense in the country.

Key Games: October 6 @ South Carolina, October 27 vs. Florida (Game in Jacksonville, Fla.), November 10 @ Auburn

2012 Prediction: 12-0 (8-0 SEC)

Wins: Buffalo, Missouri, Florida Atlantic, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, South Carolina, Kentucky, Florida, Ole Miss, Auburn, Georgia Southern, Georgia Tech

Losses: None