Sitting at 4-0 with a share of the SEC East lead, No. 5 Georgia knows just how good it can be.
These Bulldogs turned what was supposed to be a dogfight against Vanderbilt into a 48-3 walk in the park.
Led by phenomenal freshmen tailbacks and an Aaron Murray aerial assault, the Bulldogs have throttled its first two SEC East opponents by a combined score of 89-23.
Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall are quickly becoming the most formidable backfield in the SEC, and three Georgia receivers rank in the top 10 in the conference for receiving yards per game.
Aaron Murray boasts the eighth-best passing efficiency in the country, and Georgia’s offensive line has allowed the fourth fewest sacks in the SEC.
Oh, and Georgia’s defense is pretty good, too. The Bulldogs have held its two SEC opponents—Missouri and Vanderbilt—to as many points combined as the Dogs allowed to Buffalo in the season opener (23).
Now, Georgia gets a reward for its superb play—two of its premier playmakers arrive from four-game suspensions and just in time.
Safety Bacarri Rambo, who led Georgia with 8 interceptions last season, and linebacker Alec Ogletree, who was fourth on the team in sacks in 2011, slide back into their starting roles, strengthening a defense that has allowed seven touchdowns in four games.
The return of Rambo allows Georgia’s most experienced cornerback, Sanders Commings, to return to cornerback which, in turn, allows Georgia’s second best receiver in 2011—Malcolm Mitchell—to move back to offense.
Talk about the rich getting richer.
But just because Georgia has all of its proverbial weapons loaded doesn’t mean the Bulldogs’ opponents are running for cover.
Mark Richt and Co. must play four straight SEC East division games with the second of those games a potential battle between top five teams in Columbia, S.C. First, the Bulldogs have Tennessee, a pesky bunch that played Florida close in Gainesville but struggled to put away Akron last week.
The Vols rank near the bottom of the SEC in defensive categories, but offset those deficiencies with a premier passing attack, led by quarterback Tyler Bray and all-SEC caliber receivers Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson.
This Saturday’s matchup against the battle-tested Vols has all the makings of a trap game for Georgia, and Mark Richt has never won an SEC title without first knocking off Tennessee.
If the Bulldogs can survive Derek Dooley’s orange pants and the team he coaches, Georgia will be primed for a showdown against Steve Spurrier, stud defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and workhorse Marcus Lattimore, who ran all over Georgia the (first and) last time they met in Williams-Brice Stadium.
After the UGA-SC game, the Bulldogs have an off-week to refocus and revamp before a trip to lowly Kentucky and the annual Cocktail Party in Jacksonville against a Florida bunch that will be wrapping up a difficult month of October (games against LSU, Vanderbilt and South Carolina).
The SEC East is Georgia’s for the taking as it approaches the middle of its season, but it won’t be easy.
Last week, All-American linebacker and possible Heisman candidate Jarvis Jones said as the Bulldogs get into SEC play, “we know we’re going to have to play from the jump because guys in the SEC are going to jump on you from the get-go.”
Thus far, Georgia has jumped on its opponents from the get-go and showed signs of its potential over the last four games. Now, Jones and his teammates must live up to that potential the next four.
That is, if the Bulldogs want a repeat trip to Atlanta for the SEC Championship and, with a win there, a seat at the head of the table for the national championship discussion.
This group has already shown it has the makings of an SEC Championship-caliber team. They have proven they can win on the road without top starters. They have proven they can play smash-mouth defense, while scoring bunches of points. They have proven they’re dangerous and deep on both sides of the ball.
Whatever kind of football they play (old man? young boy? spread? pro-style?), they've proven they play it well.
And they’re only scratching the surface.