Two-Time Defending Champions’ Bite Deadly as Their Bark
No team has been crowned the national champion at the major-college level three consecutive times since Minnesota from 1934-36. That could change this season with two-time defending national champion Georgia going after a 3-peat and favored to do so according to the college football predictions.
Quarterback Stetson Bennett, offensive tackle Broderick Jones, and defensive stars Jalen Carter and Nolan Smith are among the key players who headed off to the NFL.
The Bulldogs’ class of incoming freshmen is ranked second only to SEC rival Alabama according to the 247sports.com recruiting database.
Georgia signed seven top-50 recruits with six of them coming on defense. Defensive lineman Jordan Hall, linebackers Raylen Wilson and CJ Allen, defensive backs AJ Harris and Joenel Aguero, and edge rusher Damon Wilson look to become the next wave of defensive stars for the Bulldogs with offensive lineman Monroe Freeling the other top signee.
Georgia didn’t venture far to find the four incoming transfers with Texas AM cornerback Smoke Bouie, Mississippi State RaRa Thomas, Missouri receiver Dominic Lovett, and Tennessee running back Len’Neth Whitehead coming to Athens from fellow SEC programs.
Receiver Adonai Mitchell (Texas), defensive linemen Bear Alexander (Southern California) and Bill Norton (Arizona), edge rusher MJ Sherman (Nebraska), cornerbacks Jaheim Singletary (Arkansas) and Marcus Washington (Louisville), tight end Arik Gilbert (Nebraska), linebackers Trezmen Marshall (Alabama) Rian Davis (Central Florida) and offensive lineman Jacob Hood (Nebraska) lead the list out outgoing transfers.
Georgia received 181 first-place votes in the SEC preseason poll, nearly three times as many as second-place Alabama. In the Eastern Division voting, the Bulldogs picked up 265 of 283 first-place votes.
Take A Look At These Other 2 NCAAF Special Articles
- Jim Fuller’s Top 25 Teams To Watch: No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide
- Jim Fuller’s Top 25 Teams To Watch: No. 3 Michigan Wolverines
- 2022 record: 15-0
- 2022 SEC record: 8-0
- Head coach: Kirby Smart
- Odds to win conference title: -115
Georgia will turn to Carson Beck at quarterback after Stetson Bennett led the Bulldogs to back-to-back national titles. Beck completed 74% of his passes a season ago in limited action after struggling a bit as a freshman.
Leading rusher Kenny McIntosh was a late-round draft pick by the Seattle Seahawks. Branson Robinson figured to be one of the backs taking larger roles, but he suffered a season-ending injury.
Daijuan Edwards and Kendall Milton combined for more than 1,400 yards and 15 touchdowns and their production should increase.
The strength of the offense could be up front. The interior of the offensive line returns Sedrick Van Plan as well as Tate Rutledge and Xavier Truss. Amarius Mims and redshirt freshman Earnest Greene will start at tackle.
Beck gets to throw to all-everything tight end Brock Bowers and the reliable Ladd McConkey.
Lovett was eighth in the SEC with 846 receiving yards last season at Missouri with Thomas averaging 14 yards on 44 catches at Mississippi State.
The defense lost some big names to the NFL over the last two years. However, there is still plenty of talent.
The top two tacklers in 2022 were sophomore linebackers Jamon Dumas-Johnson and Smael Mondon with Malaki Starks looking like the next great NFL defensive back to come out of Georgia. Javon Bullard is another playmaker in the secondary.
Up front, Zion Logue, Nazir Stackhouse, Tramel Walthour, and Warren Brinson could see even more snaps in 2023.
Keep an eye on Tyrion Ingram-Dawkins on the defensive line as well.
Those who bet online might want to keep in mind that Georgia was 8-7 against the spread a season ago. Each of the last four games played by the Bulldogs went over the total.
New players are sure to emerge. However, at first glance, this doesn’t look quite as imposing of a team as Georgia has fielded in each of the last two seasons.
It would be dangerous to take that to mean that Georgia doesn’t have everything it needs to win another title. Having plenty of talent back on both lines will key Georgia’s bid for a 3-peat.
Anon-conference slate featuring home games against UT Martin, Ball State, and UAB shouldn’t offer too much resistance before the attention turns to conference play. Sure, there were some huge losses as two of the first three players taken in the 2023 NFL Draft were from Alabama. However, Alabama is not exactly crying poverty when i
South Carolina comes to Athens in the conference opener in Week 3 with the first road contest coming against Auburn on Sept. 30.
Can Florida offer up a challenge or will the tests in SEC play have to wait until back-to-back games against Ole Miss and Tennessee games in November? The closest SEC game a season came against Missouri with the Bulldogs winning 26-22. Missouri comes to Athens this season so expect a much different score this time around.
The college football spreads are yet to put up a number in the season opener since UT Martin is a Football Championship Subdivision program. Georgia has won its last five games against FCS competition by a combined score of 239-38.
Georgia covered in just three of the six games when coming into the game as a double-digit favorite according to the Las Vegas odds.
Georgia is listed at -500 to win the SEC East Division followed by Tennessee at +500.
In seven of the last nine seasons, Georgia has won at least 10 games. The Bulldogs are in a good position to get there again with the price set at -140 to go under 11½ wins during the regular season. The number is set at +110 to finish over that total.
- Sept. 2 vs UT Martin
- Sept. 9 vs Ball State
- Sept. 16 vs South Carolina
- Sept. 23 vs UAB
- Sept. 30 vs Auburn
- Oct. 7 vs Kentucky
- Oct. 14 vs Vanderbilt
- Oct. 28 vs Florida(at Jacksonville)
- Nov. 4 vs Missouri
- Nov. 11 vs Ole Miss
- Nov. 18 vsTennessee
- Nov. 25 vs Georgia Tech