cecilbuffington.com 2011 Georgia Bulldogs Season Predictions.

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Bet a Diet Mt. Dew if you like, but don’t put up the mortgage on these picks . . .

If ever Georgia had a lot to play for in a season, this is the season. They come off a losing season ( 6 - 7 ) that has their coaches on a warm, if not hot seat, and have a lot of Georgia fans in a non-forgiving, non-giving mood ( as in not contributing to the Georgia donation coffers ).

The Dawgs will have an improved defense and return star quarterback Aaron Murray. They will be a much improved team over last year’s edition.

The Boise State game is a key game for the Bulldog’s. If an unexpected win by most national media is realized against the team effectionally known as “the Blue Smurfs” the Dawgs could have an emotional jolt that drives them through the entire season. A loss in this game could prove disastrous as the season progresses.

Look for Georgia to move in one of two directions. They will be a primarily passing team unless freshman Isaiah Crowell meets expectations. If he can provide a needed balance between the passing and running game, the Dawgs will be very good.

Now let’s take a look at how I see the season going for the Bulldogs. . .

Sept. 3, Boise State (Ga. Dome), 8 p.m.

No. 5 Boise State has been outscored 121-40 in its past three games against SEC teams: Georgia (48-13 in 2005), South Carolina (41-14 in 2002) and Arkansas (32-13 in 2001). They do not play well against SEC teams. The key to the game will be the Dawgs defense and freshman Isaiah Crowell.

Prediction: Bulldogs win 27 - 17.

Sept. 10, South Carolina, 4:30 p.m.

Marcus Lattimore rushed for 182 yards and two touchdowns in the Gamecocks’ 17-6 win over Georgia in Columbia last season. On paper, No. 12 South Carolina should repeat as SEC East champions. The Dogs should play a respectable game in front of the home folks. The defense must step up and Murray will have to have a better day than Garcia for the Dawgs to win this game.

Prediction: Bulldogs win 24 - 21.

Sept. 17, Coastal Carolina, 1 p.m.

If the Dogs are 2 - 0 going into this game, Sanford Stadium is going to really be rocking. This game is a gimme. Coastal Carolina is an FCS (formerly Division I-AA) school that plays in a 9,000-seat stadium. The Chanticleers play these games for the paycheck only. They have no chance to defeat Georgia.

Prediction: Bulldogs win 52 - 14.

Sept. 24, at Mississippi

The Rebels finished 4-8 last season after going 19-8 in coach Houston Nutt’s first two years, and they’ll be no better this year. Not much is expected from the Ole Miss defensive front, so this is a good chance for the Dogs’ offensive line and Crowell to really get rolling.

Prediction: Bulldogs win 36 - 20.

Oct. 1, Mississippi State

Notwithstanding the losses to South Carolina and Arkansas that preceded it, Georgia’s 2010 season really fell apart with its 24-12 loss in Starkville (its first loss to Mississippi State since 1974). At 0-3 in the SEC, the season was over. That won’t be the case this time. No. 20 MSU lost some guys along the defensive front, and winning in Athens is something they’ve done only twice (1914 and 1956, with Georgia winning nine straight at home since). Look for Murray to have a big yardage day throwing the ball.

Prediction: Bulldogs win 27 - 14

Oct. 8, at Tennessee

So things are rolling now, right? Five consecutive wins  and 3-0 in the SEC? Now comes a trip over the mountains to Knoxville.  The Tennessee Vols lay in waiting.  Freshman quarterback Tyler Bray won four of his five starts down the last season stretch (16 touchdowns, seven interceptions), and coach Derek Dooley got his players to play hard, if not always smart. Mark Richt’s Dogs have been shellacked in their past two trips to Knoxville (combined score: 80-33).  I don’t believe Georgia will go undefeated and win every game it’s supposed to.  I think some team will catch them in a down week, and I think it will be the Vols.

Prediction: Bulldogs lose a stunner in Knoxville 34 - 31.

Oct. 15, at Vanderbilt

Vandy ranked 110th in the nation in offense last season, and the wonder is that there were 10 teams worse. The Commodores scored 96 points in eight SEC games. Auburn scored 306.  Vandy beat Ole Miss for the high lite of their season.

Prediction: Bulldogs win. 48 - 10.

Oct. 29, Florida (Jacksonville), 3:30 p.m.

A game against Vandy and a bye week is about as good a setup as Georgia can have against its annual tormentors. But last year it had Vandy and Kentucky leading into Florida Week and still lost to a Gators team that had lost three straight (including 10-7 at home to Mississippi State). Florida won’t be great this season. The question is “will Georgia be good enough in a must-win situation?”  A win in this game will give the Dawgs the Eastern Division title and a date at the Georgia Dome in the SEC title game. Look for Brantley to be much more consistant for the Gators, but look for Murray to step up and solidify his credentials as the best QB in the SEC.

Prediction: Bulldogs win 31 - 28.

Nov. 5, New Mexico State

The last time Georgia played New Mexico State was in 2002, when Richt won his first SEC title in Athens. The Aggies are dreadful. They lost games last year by scores of 42-10, 42-16, 59-0, 52-6 and 59-24. Another walkover.

Prediction: Bulldogs win 45 - 7.

Nov. 12, Auburn

That guy at quarterback for Auburn is gone. So is half of the defense. All together, 18 starters are gone from the BCS title team. Expect the Tigers to run the ball a lot with Michael Dyer, but he won’t be enough. Georgia should win this game.

Prediction: Bulldogs win 28 - 17.

Nov. 19, Kentucky

This used to be one of those automatic wins, but not anymore. The Dogs are only 3-2 in the past five meetings, and there have been way too many chaotic moments against the Big Blue.

Prediction: Bulldogs win 41 - 30.

Nov. 26, at Georgia Tech

Since Tech upset Georgia and ripped off pieces of the Sanford Stadium hedges in Paul Johnson’s first season, the Dogs have won the past two meetings. The Jackets are expected to struggle this season with inexperienced quarterbacks.  But it’s difficult to know how far along Tevin Washington and/or Synjyn Days will be at quarterback by the time they play the Dawgs.  Two things are for sure, Murray will be very good for Georgia, and Tech will be sky-high for the game.

Prediction: Bulldogs win 38 - 24.

The Dawgs will climb into the Top five teams in the BCS poll after defeating Georgia Tech.

Number 2 ranked Alabama will be the opponent in the SEC title game in the Georgia Dome. ( Oklahoma will be ranked number 1 ). This game will see a high scoring affair.  It will be back and forth all day.    The Tide will prevail on a last minute field goal.

Prediction: Bulldogs lose 45 - 42 and finish with an 11 - 2 record. Their consolation will be an at-large berth in the Fiesta Bowl versus Oklahoma State.

Prediction: Bulldogs win 31 - 21 to complete a 12 - 2 season.

There you have it. My gut feeling is there are only three teams that have a better than even chance to defeat the Bulldogs. Those teams are Boise State, South Carolina and Florida. I don’t believe Georgia will go undefeated. It was a hard decision to decide between a loss or win versus Boise State and South Carolina. I think emotion will carry the Dawgs to wins in those games. I think a lack of emotion will cost Georgia dearly against Tennessee later in the season. A let down is probably expected at some point in the season. I believe that emotional let-down will occur in Knoxville. Florida? Let’s just say Georgia is due to win over a projected slightly better-than-average Gator team.





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