Chris Stephens

Is Georgia Still The SEC East Favorite?

Created on Sept. 21, 2013 10:02 AM EST

The Georgia Bulldogs currently sit in a comfortable position in the SEC East after beating South Carolina two weeks ago.

North Texas is on the schedule this week, but things won't be easy after that with LSU, Missouri, Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Florida in the next five games.

With that in mind, are the Bulldogs still the favorites to win the division after beating the Gamecocks? With an offense that is averaging 38 points a game, there's no question that the Bulldogs can score. However, will they be able to stop other teams from scoring?

The Remaining Opponents

LSU is averaging 46 points a game and put up 37 points on then-No. 20 TCU. Zach Mettenberger is leading the SEC with 797 yards passing and nine touchdowns, showing the Tigers are about more than just defense. Georgia's inexperienced defense will have a tall task in stopping the Tigers.

Then there's Tennessee, which put up 97 points in two weeks before running into Oregon. The Volunteers look much-improved on offense, but then again, they scored those points on Austin Peay and Western Kentucky. This week's game with Florida will provide a true barometer.

Missouri follows and is better than many people think. They hung with the Bulldogs until the fourth quarter last year. They're even better on offense and have a good running quarterback in James Franklin who can be dangerous.

Vanderbilt was blown out by Georgia last year, 48-3, but Jordan Matthews returns and is perhaps the best receiver in the conference. For those who saw the catches he made against Ole Miss in the season opener, they know the kid can play ball. Because of his abilities, that could be worrisome for the Georgia secondary, unless Damian Swann is on him the entire game.

Florida has problems on offense once again. I've been saying it for a long time that Jeff Driskel is not an SEC quarterback because he struggles with hanging onto the ball. However, the defense is stout, allowing 13.5 points a game so far. If Georgia's offense can continue to put up points, then they should have no problem beating the Gators.

Considering those matchups, by the end of the five games, we'll know if Georgia is headed back to the SEC Championship Game. I don't see Auburn or Kentucky putting up much of a fight, although my tune could change if Auburn upsets LSU this weekend.

Regardless, the Bulldogs have to lose twice for the Gamecocks to win the division. Florida has to face LSU as well, which could hurt their chances at the division title should they lose to Georgia.

The Variable: Defense

The success of Georgia's season lies on the defense. They're going to get tested against SEC teams and they're going to have to come up big like they did against South Carolina.

The biggest thing I look for is their ability to stop the mobile quarterbacks of Missouri and Vanderbilt. By doing that, and having Swann lock down Matthews and Dorial Green-Beckham, the front seven should be able to control the running game.

Against LSU and Tennessee, they just have to prevent the big play. Outside of that, I don't see either team constantly sustaining long drives.

Lastly, turnovers will be key in all games. As we saw with Florida, the more you make them turn the ball over, the longer the good Florida defense will have to stay on the field. No matter how good they may be, no defense can sustain constantly being on the field, as we saw against Miami.

Are They The Favorites?

When looking at the Bulldogs offense, you have to think they are the favorites. Sure, there are still some question marks when it comes to the defense, but they're getting a few stops a game, of which the offense is usually able to take advantage.

The key will be holding opponents to no more than 24-28 points. If they can do that, they should have no problem winning the rest of their games and going back to the SEC title game for the third straight year.

Loading ...