The 2013 Georgia Bulldogs enter the season coming off a heartbreaking end to the 2012 regular season.
The Bulldogs were only five yards away from defeating Alabama in the SEC Championship game and playing Notre Dame for the national title.
The Dawgs came up just short and had to settle for a trip to the Capital One bowl where they defeated Nebraska 45-31. This season Georgia will look to rebound from the disappointment of the 2012 SEC title game and make the leap to become SEC champions.
The 2013 Bulldogs return nine starters on offense and only three on defense. The offense will have to carry the Bulldogs in the early portion of the season while the defense gains confidence entering SEC regular season play.
The problem is that the Bulldogs open up with two very tough games. On August 31 Georgia plays Clemson to open the season and the Dawgs' defense will be tested early and often. The Tigers of Clemson return starting quarterback Tajh Boyd and star wideout Sammy Watkins.
The Tigers have the speed of an SEC-type offense and the Georgia defense will have to be ready to match their explosive plays down the field from the start. This 2013 Georgia teams could possibly see their national title dreams dashed in game one if they are not careful.
The Bulldogs follow up the Clemson game by having to face South Carolina. These two teams have played some classics in the past couple of seasons and both have been SEC East contenders in recent years. The Dawgs get South Carolina in Athens which will be a plus, but the talent of South Carolina is the best it's been in years.
I feel the key matchup in this contest will be how Aaron Murray and the Georgia offensive line handles the defensive line of the Gamecocks, in particular Clowney of South Carolina. This contest between Georgia and South Carolina could be one of the early season classics and a win for Georgia could put them on track to represent the SEC East in the SEC title game once again.
The Bulldogs finish off their tough month of September by facing the LSU Tigers. Georgia gets this game in Athens which should help their young defense contain the LSU offense. This matchup has the making of a SEC classic with both teams having hopes of winning the SEC title and possibly a national championship comes at season's end. This month of September for Georgia is brutal and navigating through the three previously mentioned teams will be a challenge.
Once the Bulldogs get past the month of September the schedule lightens up significantly with only one real tough test remaining. The annual matchup of Florida vs. Georgia in Jacksonville, Florida is that one game where anything can happen and usually does happen.
Just take the 2012 game for instance, the game ended in a 17-9 score favoring Georgia in a game that was turnover paradise for both teams. The Bulldogs may be playing Florida for a chance to represent the SEC East in the SEC title game yet again in 2013, but Florida has revenge on their mind and feels this year is their shot to return to Atlanta.
The Bulldogs have a backfield that measures up against any in the country featuring a returning senior quarterback Aaron Murray and a running back tandem of Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall. These three players will be the key in how Georgia starts this 2013 season off with the tough schedule they have to start the season.
This Georgia offense was explosive last season scoring 40 or more points in eight of their 14 games. They will have to continue that pattern if they wish to return to Atlanta to play in the SEC championship game.
My season prediction for the Georgia Bulldogs is that they will fall down a notch from their great 2012 season. I see them losing at least one game in the month of September to either South Carolina or LSU. The schedule that I went over that Georgia faces in September is one of the toughest to start a season that I can remember in recent memories and I don't feel that Georgia has the make up and reputation to trust them winning all three tough games.
I believe Georgia will be in the running for a possible BCS game or a January 1 bowl game, but the shot of going to the national title this year I believe is going to be tough to recapture after last season. I say Georgia finishes 10-2 for the 2013 season and makes a very respectful bowl game.