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.