Early 2014 rankings: Georgia from No. 10 to No. 17

semerson@macon.comJanuary 7, 2014 

gator_bowl

Georgia quarterback Hutson Mason passes from the pocket against Nebraska in the first half. Mason completed 21 of 39 passes on the day for 320-total yards. Nebraska beat Georgia in the Gator Bowl, 24-19.

BEAU CABELL — bcabell@macon.com

There are a lot of ridiculously early top 25 rankings being posted today. Although it's not too ridiculous, as there's general agreement on a lot of teams, including Georgia.

CBSsports.com has Georgia at No. 10.

ESPN.com puts Georgia at No. 11.

Jon Wilner, an AP voter for the San Jose Mercury News, has Georgia at No. 14.

USA Today has Georgia at No. 17.

In addition, the gambling side Bovada.com released its odds for winning the national championship in 2015 (after next season), and Georgia is 25-1. Those are the ninth-best odds, with Georgia having the same chance as Baylor, Clemson, Florida, LSU, South Carolina, Texas A&M and UCLA. (The favorite is Florida State, at 11-2, followed by Alabama and Stanford.)

Georgia is set to return 17 of the players who started on offense and defense in the Gator Bowl, as well as All-SEC kicker Marshall Morgan, and injured offensive starters Malcolm Mitchell, Justin Scott-Wesley and Keith Marshall, and safety Josh Harvey-Clemons, who started 11 games and was suspended for the bowl game.

Here's Georgia's schedule for 2014:

Aug. 30: Clemson
Sept. 13: at South Carolina
Sept. 20: Troy
Sept. 27: Tennessee
Oct. 4: Vanderbilt
Oct. 11: at Missouri
Oct. 18: at Arkansas
Nov. 1: vs. Florida
Nov. 8: at Kentucky
Nov. 15: Auburn
Nov. 22: Charleston Southern
Nov. 29: Georgia Tech

The schedule looks a lot more favorable in 2014. Here's a comparison:

This past season, Georgia ended up facing four teams that finished in the top 8 of the AP poll, five that finished in the top 14, and six that finished in the top 25. Georgia went 2-4 against those teams, the wins coming in Week 2 and Week 4, before the majority of the injuries hit.

Next season, the 12 teams on Georgia's schedule include (using the ESPN early ranking) just one top 5 team (Auburn), and four top 25 teams (No. 13 South Carolina, No. 18 Clemson, No. 25 Florida).

Of course, Auburn wasn't ranked entering this season. That's why this is all ridiculously early. But it provides some context on why there's optimism around the Georgia program itself, despite the antsiness in some quarters of the fan base.

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