Georgia’s championship hopes aren’t done

dshirley@macon.comOctober 18, 2013 

uga_missouri

Georgia took a major hit last week when it lost to Missouri, but the Bulldogs are still in reasonably good shape for a spot in the SEC championship game should Missouri -- which is without starting quarterback James Franklin -- stumble down the stretch.

BEAU CABELL — bcabell@macon.com

Yes, Georgia lost a game last week. And, no the world didn’t come to an end.

Admittedly, the Bulldogs played a bad game in losing to Missouri last week -- their first SEC loss and their second loss overall.

With two losses, Georgia’s hopes of winning a national championship are all but gone. It would take a miracle for the Bulldogs to get back in that race, and miracles don’t tend to take place during the college football season.

That said, the Bulldogs still have a very good chance to win the SEC East title and then have a one-game shot at a conference championship. That wasn’t supposed to be the final goal for this team, but there’s no reason to turn your nose up at winning an SEC title.

There are a couple of keys to making that happen.

Georgia no longer controls its destiny to win the division. That now lies with Missouri, which is the only team in the division without a conference loss.

The Tigers, however, will have to face Florida on Saturday and South Carolina next week without starting quarterback James Franklin. So there’s a good chance they will lose one or both of those games. If they somehow end up with two conference losses the rest of the way, the Bulldogs are right back in charge.

Georgia still has to play Florida, and the Gators and South Carolina still have to play, so there are a lot of moving parts in the schedules of the contenders in the division.

There are also a lot of moving parts on the Bulldogs’ roster, and that is where the other two keys come in to play for Georgia.

The Bulldogs are not going to get fully healthy on offense the rest of this season. Malcolm Mitchell and Keith Marshall are both out for the season, and those injuries really hurt. But Todd Gurley could come back, and that would be huge.

If Gurley could return fully healthy, the Bulldogs could overcome the losses at receiver, and if Michael Bennett can come back close to healthy, that would be important, as well.

Still, those players don’t play defense, and therein lies the other key for the Bulldogs. They have to play better on side of the ball. The offense can’t continue to have four turnovers like it did against Missouri, but the Bulldogs’ defense has to start forcing some turnovers to help out the offense. Also, the Bulldogs have to be better fundamentally, and they have to tackle better. Those were big issues against Missouri, and they can’t continue to crop up the rest of the season.

That’s a lot to fall into place for the Bulldogs to keep their chances alive, but it’s not too much to ask. The main goal of winning a national title is gone, but there are other goals still out there, and there is a lot of the season let to play.

Contact Daniel Shirley at 744-4227 or dshirley@macon.com

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