Just talking ’bout the schedule

As easy as it’s been for most to focus on the cross-divisional break Georgia has with this year’s schedule, I think Bruce Feldman’s hit on the bigger deal:

… And, maybe the thinking is that’d allow for more time for Mark Richt to develop his inexperienced O-line and young backs before potentially facing a conference heavyweight in the SEC title game. That said, they crept into the top 15 last year by the end of the regular season without beating anyone in the top 20.

So does that prove the toughness of a team’s schedule is relevant to the rankings, or is it a red herring?

I’d put it this way: When I do my rankings in the preseason, I try to map out what a team’s record may be. If Michigan opened with Ole Miss or Kentucky rather than Alabama, I’d have the Wolverines with one more win. I just think that’s one bigger hurdle for a team to deal with. Plus playing as physical a team as Alabama is — the Tide will have the top offensive line in the country — can take a toll on an opponent. I’m not saying Air Force is going to knock off the Wolverines in Week Two, but AFA is a big headache to prepare for regardless. Coming on the heels of a game against the Tide only will make it that much more difficult.

A college football season also often becomes a battle of attrition.

As outstanding as LSU was in 2011, the Tigers defeated eight ranked teams, but eventually were knocked off by Alabama. The other part of that is when you do have those nasty early-season games, you run the risk of your team going into a tailspin with that kind of hangover effect…

Last season, Georgia came out of the chute facing the #5 and #12 teams in the country.  This year, the Dawgs may not face a ranked team until the sixth week.  None of which is to say that there won’t be challenges – three of those early opponents reside in the SEC East – but Richt has a better chance to manage the suspensions and the breaking in of freshmen on the offensive line and in the backfield this go ’round.

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44 Comments

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44 responses to “Just talking ’bout the schedule

  1. AFA is a problem, but they’re no Appalachian State.

  2. Derek

    This drives me nuts: “When I do my rankings in the preseason, I try to map out what a team’s record may be.”.

    Why do voters try to be fortune tellers? Trying to complete a poll to prove how smart you are is both pointless and meaningless. A preseason poll should begin with the team one believes would beat everyone in the country on a neutral field. No. 2 is the team that you thing would beat everyone else but no. 1 and so forth. WTF else does a “ranking” mean?

    • David

      If that’s the case then there should be no poll until week 5 or 6 because no one has seen these teams play yet.

    • Ace

      + 1 billion

      Yet another reason why polls are a complete joke.

    • Cojones

      Plus, what does everyone think will happen to us in the polls before week 5-6? After our first week, the teams below us, who play ranked teams and win, will be thrust upwards and we will go down to 8-9. After Mizzou, win or not, the chances of pushing up depends entirely upon those teams that rose above us. Until we play SC, we won’t go anywhere (except down) depending upon how we “dominate” perceived weaker teams. Don’t think we rise above 6th until after FU and we are undefeated. Even then we head into a final SECCG game 4th at best. After that win, I’ll worry how we are ranked.

      If Herbie and the boys have us positioned behind Ok, Mi (mOSU) and USC , you will see us voted out of an NC game if everyone else wins their conferences. SOS will be used as a weapon against the SEC (if you aren’t Bama) before 2014. How many of the SEC haters do you think will disagree with that?

      Maybe this preseason ranking position ain’t so good after all.

      • Cojones

        Puts the importance of that Aub-Clem game in a different light for the SEC, eh?

        • Always Someone Else's Fault

          The B12 looked incredible out of the gate last year, but it didn’t help OSU much in the end.

          The P12 beat Missouri and ND out of conference last year. That’s it. And yet Oregon, Stanford and USC were all Top 10 largely because one of those three teams couldn’t manage to beat the other two.

          I don’t get poll-think. I’ve stopped trying.

          • Cojones

            Add to it that many teams will be Dawg-polled into a place depending on their poll proximity to us. It doesn’t matter whether we Dawg-pole them or not.

      • Cojones, that’s a descriptional, flow-chart of exactly what could happen. The idea that the winner of the SEC is automatically in the MNCG is going to be attacked and exactly as you described. It will be harder to do to Bama or LSU, because of recent domination by those programs, but Georgia will be discounted win or lose. I also continue to predict that Steve Spurrier will be leading the charge. I hope Georgia gets into the position to test these theories and then, I hope I’m very wrong.

  3. Russ for UGA IX in '12

    All off-season, everybody, everywhere, and on every radio station keeps saying Georgia has a soft schedule.

  4. Macallanlover

    Is there anything more absurd than hearing talk about an SEC team’s schedule not being difficult? A schedule certainly can impact a team’s W-L record, and thus their ranking, but for decades I have watched tosu, Michigan, VT, PSU, Notre Dame, etc. play schedules that were a cakewalk except for 1-2 challenging games and then get voted the best team in America.

    The, former, Big 10 was always a joke where tosu and Michigan would go into the final game unbeaten, then go hide in the Rose Bowl playing a wimpy PAC10 team who had difficulty getting the players off their surfboards, or away from their frisbees, long enough to make it to Pasadena. It is no accident that some of those schools have trouble winning a MNC now because they face better teams and have to play a highly rated team in the bowls. UGA will have to play 8 SEC games and then face the winner of the West to remain highly rated. They will not have to back up to receive ANY award they earn. Does this mean there are not cyclical schedule fluctuations as teams rotate on, or off, the schedule? Of course not, but no one cares, or gives you any sympathy votes, when you catch the tough upticks in schedules. If we win anything this year, we will deserve it.

    • The Lone Stranger

      Agree with everything you write, and I’d go on to note that with the advent of a more scrutinized and analyzed college football landscape the B1G has been found out. The two teams generally occupying the BCS bowls have been tOSU & UM but once they get there it’s a challenge. Throw Wisconsin into that same bag of decent regional football, but not quite beyond that.

      • Cojones

        Correct, Lone. Mark Richt was Barry Alvarez’s daddy in those Fl bowls. It was like first half “Let’s see what you got” and the second half, after coming back from a 20 something to nothing lead by Wisconsin, it was “Not so fast”. It was like they were toyed with and then Richt decided to coach us up at halftime.

        Mac, I’d swear that we must have been separated at birth. Hang tough.

        • RocketDawg

          I don’t remember anyone giving us the benefit of the doubt when we played Okie State, Ariz State, LSU and Arkansas. Not to mention S. Carolina and Florida were good that year too.

          • tludlam

            How exactly would that doubt have benefitted us in 2009? It was still a 7-5 reg season. Did you think we should have been ranked after losing to Kentucky?

  5. Scorpio Jones, III

    There is only one ranking that matters.
    Why waste time talking about this stuff?

    Maybe The Emmert will decide on a ranking format.

  6. Otto

    Preseason rankings do matter. Yes, It matters less for SEC team than it ever did in the past. However if 2 teams start out in the Top 5 and win out, then another team comes from outside the Top 20 to win out. The 2 teams that began the season in the top 5 will likely end as the Top 2. Obviously if the SEC team was the one outside the Top 20 it would likely get the nod given the SEC current run of success.

  7. Nate Dawg

    I ain’t got many smarts, but I can’t figure out how you can play in the toughest, hardest, best conference in the land – of which everyone seems to be in agreement on – have a schedule filled with teams from that said conference, and then have a “weak” schedule? If we make it to capital city for the championship – and I said if – I sure do hope it’s a “down” year for bama or LSU. I’d like to have a shot at winning.
    Also, I couldn’t agree more with Mac above about how it used to be for all those “big time” northeastern/ big 10 schools.

  8. Cojones

    If we go to the SECCG and beat Bama, we should be lickin’ our chops to get USC and Kiffin revenge. That would put the hype on their coach and QB to rest.

    The pollsters talk about Tyrann and how they ranked LS Lieu, but I want to see the influence Redd from PSU had on their USC vote. If it made a difference, then you know how to position pollster’s votes before he transferred. Their votes would have been overhyped and Redd’s transfer to running back made for solidification of their stinkin’ seer vote.

    The length that some pundits go to in order to sell their ego views as oracles is laughable.

  9. stoopnagle

    Alabama ducks Georgia on the schedule. So does LSU. No wonder they’re going to duke it out for the west.

    Is South Carolina playing Auburn this year? Steve should be glad to see them roll off the schedule, eh?

  10. charlottedawg

    Like I’ve said before, this meme is irrelevant. We start at #6 in the AP and Coaches and if we win out we will most likely get a shot at one of I would guess at most 2 teams ahead of us in the polls in Atlanta. We will also probably have to beat a top 10 team in South Carolina. This is not the scenario of a team left out in the cold a la 2004 Auburn (started #17, did not play a team in the top 5 after September.) Our destiny is firmly in our own hands, what we choose to do with it is up to us. I just don’t see a scenario where an undefeated SEC champ Georgia team is not playing for the BCS title. I even like the chances of a 1 loss SEC champ Georgia playing for the title. Put another way I’ll worry about us being left out in the cold, AFTER we’ve demonstrated an ability to not shoot ourselves in the foot.

    • Cojones

      And if Clemson beats Auburn, how do you think the SEC teams will be positioned afterwards? They are looking for excuses to knock down SEC teams. SOS will be used as a cudgel by the SEC haters trying to create parity on paper. Think they will look at our conference members as tough eggs in our schedule? Not so much.

      Preseason polls are for the benefit of teams other than the SEC. They are the feedbag to produce the Pome d’ Rue that will be coming out later through a pollster sphincter. At this point, the Bama-Mich and Aub-Clem games become SEC “must-haves” just to keep our status quo.

    • Minnesota Dawg

      Exactly, cd. Let’s see if we can win the several big-time games on our schedule for a change before we start imaging ways that we’re going to get passed over for the BCS title. I’ll be thrilled to be having this conversation in late November (and happy to bitch about the price of flights down to Miami for the championship game later on), but until then, this fear about being squeezed out seems ridiculously presumptuous. Once the Dawgs stop giving away games in September and October, I’m confident that things will work out just fine.

  11. JT Fresh

    The SEC wins its 5th national title in a row in 2010 and the AP voters subsequently vote Oklahoma preseason #1 in 2011.

    The SEC wins its 6th national title in a row in 2011 and the AP voters subsequently vote USC preseason #1 in 2010.

    What is wrong with this picture?

  12. Tom

    Maybe the fact that what conference previous years’ national champs were in has absolutely nothing to do with how good the AP thinks the individual teams will be this year.

    • JT Fresh

      Yep, 6 national champions in a row still leaves doubt as to which conference produces the best teams.

      Good grief.

  13. HobnailedBoots

    I am so. Fucking. Tired. Of talking about how “easy” our schedule is.

  14. Always Someone Else's Fault

    I’m with Cojones on this “SEC backlash” dynamic this year. No, you don’t really see it in the initial polls, but once this year’s OSU emerges, I can see voters letting last year’s emotions impact this year’s voting. I’m betting a one-loss horse from another major conference edges a 1-loss SEC team for the right to play USC. The Trojan’s schedule is 1 top 10 team and 11 Kentuckies – but no Georgia Southerns (who ended last season ranked ahead of 3 of USC’s four “tough” BCS opponents). Doesn’t matter that Georgia Southern would pummel Minnesota. One school’s in the B1G, the other one’s got a directional arrow in the name.

    Something to think about. Once a “weak schedule” narrative cures in the mold, that sucker’s going to be tough to crack.

    • HobnailedBoots

      They HAVE to include an SEC team. The only way they can end the “SEC dominance” talk is if a team outside the SEC actually BEATS an SEC team in the MNC game. It wouldn’t end the meme, it would just inflame it further.

      • Always Someone Else's Fault

        Isn’t that how every season seems to end? On the one scenario that generates the most news and attention above all other possible permutations?

        Funny how that works.

  15. rugbydawg79

    After Mizzou–we better be worried about Vandy and Tennessee–or the polls will be meaningless–all the folk talking about our EZ schedule—not many could go thru Vandy,Tn., and SC all in a row–thats a tougher stretch than many realize ! We better take em 1 game at a time fellas

    • Macallanlover

      Yup, just beat everyone that lines up in front of us, and everything gets taken care of. One thing is certain, we can win the most significant earned title in football in December. SEC has won every awarded title it has been allowed to compete for, so I will take an SEC title and not give a rip. Any year I can be happy with 10-2 and hope for 11-1 as long as we get to Atlanta with a shot at the Western winner. That is what SEC football is about, the rest is controlled by weird circumstances that do nothing to take away from the SEC title. As you said, take down (Mizzou and) those three and I think will get our shot.

      • I don’t see it. What I do see is (in the unlikely event UGA is undefeated in the regular season) the “poll spincter” (as another poster so wonderfully titled it…..LEXICON CANDIDATE?), discounting UGA’s schedule as easy and unimpressive. This has nothing to do with right and wrong…logic…or fariness. It has everything to do with jealousy, insecurity and maybe even money (ya think) because the less fortunate regions of America will be tuning out of what has become a huge success for the South and a source of humilition for the favored conferences and TV markets.

    • Cojones

      Agreed. We get Dawg-pol(l)ed most years anyway and with an Alvarez thought linked to Herbstreit as grand poohbah, it’s inevitable. One Nation, with Georgia and liberty for all. Screw the self-serving polls and enjoy our team and coaches together for one great year. This oughta be one where we all can cheer our lungs out and enjoy every play. Hope no one gets injured in the next 10 days plus 6.

      Sic’em Dawgs!!

  16. Bulldog Joe

    A college football season also often becomes a battle of nutrition.

    Wait, that was last year.

  17. rugbydawg79

    Maccallanlover +1 would like to add -your comments are part of what makes this a great blog–thanks

  18. W Cobb Dawg

    We should have whipped both bsu and scu. Both games in GA too.

    But rankings are irrelevant. People seem to overlook that the sec teams winning championships usually had 1, or fewer, losses. Any team that wins every game and/or the secc is likely going to get to the mnc.