Han Vance on Georgia football: Several New Year’s holiday scenarios exist for the University of Georgia Bulldogs, but first-things-first comes the annual Thanksgiving weekend instate game, Saturday at noon versus Georgia Tech.
Were a favored (10-1) Georgia to, for a third consecutive time in Athens, find itself on the wrong end of the Governor’s Cup – handily won in Atlanta last year – SEC bowl projections would include the Citrus Bowl in Orlando for the SEC East champions unless Georgia rebounded and still beat Alabama. To me, that two-game scenario is least likely for UGA of various W-L possibilities.
Georgia should beat Tech in Athens. I have projected the defending SEC champion Bulldogs to get revenge on the Crimson Tide in a rematch of the 2017 season national championship game, both all-SEC tilts played in Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium. This iteration of the SEC championship game is also a rematch of an earlier league title meeting, final loss of Mark Richt’s three near-national champions as head coach. When all-time SEC passer Aaron Murray and Todd Gurley came up four yards short in the Georgia Dome, Bama advancing to beat Notre Dame for another national championship.
Should Georgia win its next two games, the Dawgs are headed back to the College Football Playoff (CFP), where they won in double overtime at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena last season. (I was there.)
CFP committee reveals their rankings weekly on Tuesdays at 7:00 p.m. (EST). The #1 team, after the conference championship games, will play the #4 team at the rotational playoff host site geographically nearest to #1. While #2 and #3 will play at the other host site before the winners meet.
This season the national championship is in NorCal, thus the “Route 66” title of my last piece for Bulldawg Illustrated, as Georgia could be on the road in golden California, again. Calling the game’s destination San Francisco or even the San Francisco Bay Area is a big stretch as the 49ers of the NFL play way South Bay these days, long haul from The City.
The opening rounds of the CFP are the Cotton Bowl in the Greater Dallas-Ft. Worth Area, where my family and I are from, and the Orange Bowl down in caliente Miami. Classic big-game destinations.
Clemson, Notre Dame and Alabama are undefeated and thusly the primary challengers for #1 in the final CFP rankings, which are the four playoff teams. None are all that geographically close or relatively far, compared to other CFP seasons’ teams, from either of the bowl sites. #1 and #4 Orange Bowl looks the most probable, with #2 and #3 likely to the home of the Dallas Cowboys. Georgia could be #3 again, as they were last year as one-loss SEC champions.
An SEC champion that does not qualify for the CFP would play versus the Big 12 in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. This iteration of the Sugar Bowl is guaranteed those conferences in a matchup, regardless. The Rose Bowl is guaranteed a pairing between schools of the Big 10 and Pac-12 this time around.
The Peach Bowl in my hometown of Atlanta does not have an automatic SEC bowl tie in this year. The status is the same for the Fiesta Bowl in the Greater Phoenix Area, which has at-large (or Group of 5) selections, as designated by the committee’s pairings. Non-CFP SEC teams could appear in both of these big bowls and will probably appear in at least one. The highest-rated team from the Group of 5, smaller FBS conferences, is guaranteed a New Year’s 6 bowl game.
My Quick Call:
#1 Clemson – Undefeated ACC champions
#2 Notre Dame – Undefeated Independent
#3 Georgia – SEC champions
#4 Bama – at-large (favored by many)
Orange Bowl – Clemson-1 vs. Bama-4 – Maybe the 1 gets through this time
Cotton Bowl – Notre Dame-2 vs. Georgia-3 – CANINES vs. CATHOLICS (Part 2)
National Championship Game – Clemson vs. Georgia – Old rivals meet
II. New Year’s 6 continued:
Sugar Bowl – LSU vs. Oklahoma – Georgia could fall here
Fiesta Bowl – Ohio State vs. UCF – Georgia could fall here
Rose Bowl – Washington State vs. Michigan – Georgia 2018 Rose Bowl champs
Peach Bowl – Kentucky vs. Texas – Georgia could fall here
…And, the public outcry for an eight-team CFP will finally become loud.