Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NCF Nation [Print without images]

Tuesday, October 1, 2013
Georgia's path to the BCS title game

By Chris Low

If a one-loss team is going to play in the VIZIO BCS National Championship Game this season, Georgia might be as good a bet as any.

But hear this Dawgs fans: You need some help.

Keith Marshall, Aaron Murray, Kolton Houston
To reach the BCS title game, Georgia will likely need more than just the scoring prowess of Aaron Murray and the Bulldogs' offense.
The good news for Georgia is that it moved up to No. 6 in the USA Today Poll, one of three components used in the BCS standings.

If the Bulldogs keep winning, they’ve got a great chance to move up even more, especially with a pair of wins over top 10 opponents.

Remember, too, that only twice during the SEC’s streak of seven straight national championships has the team winning it all finished unbeaten.

The Bulldogs are explosive enough offensively to beat anybody in the country. Obviously, they’re going to need a healthy Todd Gurley the rest of the way. He’s day-to-day for this weekend’s game at Tennessee with a sprained left ankle.

To the Bulldogs’ credit, they played without him for the final three quarters last Saturday and still managed to outlast LSU 44-41. But it’s difficult to see them winning out (and winning the SEC championship) if Gurley’s not close to 100 percent. Keith Marshall is a heck of a talent at running back, but Gurley gives that offense a different dimension when he’s on the field.

Georgia also must continue to grow up on defense if the Bulldogs are going to have a chance to navigate their way to Pasadena. They’ve played 10 true freshmen on defense this season, and three are starters. Of the 22 players listed on their defensive two-deep, 16 are freshmen and sophomores.

So it’s not exactly a surprise that they’ve given up an average of 32.5 points per game, which ranks last in the SEC in scoring defense. To be fair, they’ve also played three top-10 foes.

The key will be how much that defense improves over the next month because the offense, as good as it’s been, can’t be expected to score 35-plus points every game.

But what else needs to happen for the Bulldogs to get to where they came within a tipped pass of potentially getting to last season and playing for the national title?

Here’s a quick checklist:
In sum, there’s so much football remaining before we get to that first weekend in December that it’s impossible to predict who will still be standing in the national championship race. But if Georgia is indeed going to make a run as a one-loss team, UGA fans probably need to root against Clemson, against Ohio State and for Alabama … at least until the SEC championship game.