Georgia football: ESPN discusses Dawgs after 37-0 win over Arkansas


Georgia is 5-0 and remains No. 2 in the polls after a 37-0 home win over Arkansas. ESPN touched on the Bulldogs following the conference matchup, including its latest predictions for the College Football Playoff. Georgia and Alabama remain the only two programs in all 13 predictions with Penn State named in 11 of them, Cincinnati getting eight, and Iowa netting seven. A week after Mark Schlabach, David M. Hale, and Adam Rittenberg each had Georgia as the No. 1 seed, Hale and Low now have Alabama back at No. 1, and now Andrea Adelson, Heather Dinich, and Dave Wilson join Rittenberg in having Georgia at No. 1.

In their bowl projections, Mark Schlabach projects Georgia in the CFP Semifinal at Capital One Orange Bowl against Oklahoma while Kyle Bonagura has them facing Penn State in the CFP Semifinal at Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic. Both have Georgia taking on Alabama in the CFP National Championship Presented by AT&T.

Bonagura: The only thing that remains clear is that Alabama and Georgia are the top two teams. Both of them turned in dominant wins against top-12 opponents (Alabama beat Ole Miss 42-21; Georgia beat Arkansas 37-0) and appear to have a healthy gap over the next tier of teams. There is a solid argument for Georgia at No. 1, but let's stick with Alabama until the Crimson Tide give us a reason for a recalibration.

Schlabach: Alabama and Georgia continued to pull away from the pack as the top two contenders for the CFP, although Iowa is holding its ground as well, whether others want to admit it or not. Georgia's defense was once again stifling in a 37-0 shutout of Arkansas at home. The Bulldogs shut out SEC opponents in back-to-back games for the first time since 1980 -- the last time they won a national title. According to data from ESPN Stats & Information, Georgia is the first team in at least 25 years to allow just one offensive touchdown in its first five games. Alabama was equally as impressive in its rout of Ole Miss, at least until the fourth quarter. Nick Saban improved to 24-0 against his former assistants, so Georgia's Kirby Smart might have to be the first one to beat his mentor if the Bulldogs are going to win the SEC.

Bill Connelly's updated SP+ rankings have Georgia maintaining the top spot. In the AP Top 25 reaction, ESPN said of Georgia:

X factor: Georgia running backs. The Dawgs had four running backs rush for more than 45 yards, with James Cook leading the way with 87 yards. All four backs had runs of 10 yards or longer. Spreading the wealth like that in the running game makes Georgia even more dangerous, especially given how dominant the Dawgs have been on defense.

What you need to know: To beat this Georgia team, opponents had better figure out a way to block its front seven on defense and handle the Dawgs' overall team speed on that side of the ball. Coming off consecutive shutouts of SEC opponents for the first time since 1980, Georgia -- which has yet to trail in a game this season -- faces Auburn on the road this Saturday, then Kentucky at home followed by an open date and then Florida in Jacksonville. -- Chris Low

Georgia stayed at No. 2 in the ESPN Power Rankings after Week 5.

Whether it's Stetson Bennett at quarterback or JT Daniels at quarterback, Georgia just keeps rolling. And why not with a defense that has been an absolute brick wall this season? Bennett started in place of the injured Daniels, and Georgia built a 24-0 halftime lead Saturday and cruised to a 37-0 shutout of Arkansas. The running game did most of the damage for Georgia, which finished with 273 rushing yards. With a little more than two minutes left in the first quarter, Georgia had 21 points to Arkansas' 1 yard of total offense. Through five games, the Dawgs have yet to allow a touchdown in the first three quarters, and the only two fourth-quarter touchdowns they've given up have come long after the outcome has been decided. -- Chris Low

Georgia is mentioned in the Week 5 takeaways as being one-half of the top tier this season.

The great wide divide

The narrative around college football, at least in some locales, has been that the sport is becoming boring with the same teams winning all of the time. Something says we'll hear even more of that as Alabama and Georgia continue to steamroll everybody. The chances of those two schools playing in the SEC championship game, then turning around and playing again in the College Football Playoff, are real. Very real. About as real as the fact that those two schools invest tons of resources and then reinvest even more resources in their football programs.

But don't blame Alabama and Georgia or any of the College Football Playoff regulars each year for the sport allegedly becoming dull. Blame those conferences that aren't carrying their weight.

Here we are (again) not even at the midway point of October, and the Pac-12 appears to be on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoff. Oregon's overtime loss to Stanford on Saturday was crushing for the league, and there are no unbeatens left in the Alliance's "West Coast division." Sure, the sport is more fun when USC is elite, and for that matter, even just relevant. But the onus is on everybody else to catch up.

Let's not forget that the goal when we went down the playoff road was to get the best four teams in and not the best four teams from each part of the country.

Who knows? Maybe there will be some new blood this year. If Cincinnati goes unbeaten and doesn't get in, it's safe to say a Group of 5 team will never make the playoff in a four-team format. -- Chris Low

Heather Dinich has the Dawgs as part of a two-team race.

Alabama and Georgia can both make a case for No. 1. According to ESPN's Football Power Index, they are more than a touchdown better than any other FBS team. Nobody in the ACC comes close. Oklahoma, the highest-ranked team in the Big 12, is squeaking by unranked teams like West Virginia and Kansas State. With Oregon's loss to Stanford, there are no undefeated teams left in the Pac-12. The Big Ten has one-loss Ohio State, and four undefeated teams -- Michigan, Michigan State, Iowa and Penn State -- but none of them are playing at the level of Bama or Georgia.

ESPN's FPI projects both Alabama and Georgia to win their remaining regular-season games, and the Allstate Playoff Predictor gives both an 85% chance to reach the playoff -- well above the third-best chance, Oklahoma, at 41.2%.

The Tide and Bulldogs are on track to face each other in the SEC championship game, especially with Florida losing at Kentucky for the first time since Nov. 15, 1986, and Texas A&M losing again in the SEC's West division. If Alabama and Georgia can reach the conference title game unscathed, the selection committee could easily justify taking them both.

"We know how good we are," Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett said. "We know what it takes to be good every week. We know that we can lose to a team any week. It does not matter how good they are if we do not go out and execute. We do not really care what the rankings say. We just go out there and do our job. When we do it really well, and we execute, we are pretty good."

Alabama and Georgia both handled what could be their most difficult opponents of the season Saturday -- and they won with ease. Alabama's defense silenced its critics by holding Ole Miss to 291 total yards and 21 points, well below its nation-leading average of 635 yards and 53 points per game. Georgia's defense smothered Arkansas, limiting the Razorbacks to nine first downs and 162 total yards. Georgia has now recorded back-to-back shutouts in SEC games for the first time since 1980, its last national championship season.

It is clear that the Dawgs' defense has put them in the national crosshairs as a legitimate College Football Playoff contender. Georgia will try to strengthen its case on both sides of the ball this weekend as it prepares for its third Top 25 matchup of the season, a 3:30 p.m. ET kickoff on the road at Auburn on Oct. 9, with CBS set to broadcast the game. The Tigers are 4-1 after a 24-19 road win at LSU.