The College Football Playoff rankings were released on Tuesday and to nobody’s surprise the Georgia Bulldogs held down the top spot. While fans, students and media love to speculate on potential playoff matchups and rankings towards the end of the season, how do the players react to it?
“It’s definitely cool to be number one,” said wide receiver Jaylen Johnson. “I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t, but you can’t pay too much attention to it because out of the last seven number one teams in this ranking, only one won the national championship. So, it’s kind of rat poisoning like Coach Smart says, we haven’t proven anything yet, all we have done is secure a spot in the SEC Championship, which is not what we want to do. We want more than that.”
On Saturday, Georgia clinched the SEC East by beating Florida and then having Kentucky lose to Mississippi State. That will put the Bulldogs in their fourth SEC championship game in five years, only having won once.
It is also true that only one team has been ranked No. 1 in the initial playoff rankings and won the national championship. That team was last year’s Alabama squad that went undefeated on their way to a title.
The Bulldogs will try to follow that blueprint this year. However, Georgia players know winning the East is just a step on the long path to a trophy that Athens has waited so long to bring home.
“Of course we were able to celebrate that a little bit,” said offensive lineman Warren Ericson. “That’s not the end goal, it week eight. We have many more weeks to go. Really our main focus is continuing to get better each and every week and then when we make it to Atlanta, just going out and playing our best.
Speaking of Atlanta, with the Braves finally winning the World Series for the first time since 1995, some feel the “Georgia sports curse” has been lifted. It seems childish that people would actually play into that narrative but even players on the Georgia Football team are aware of the “curse.”
“It certainly seems like there has been an Atlanta sports curse going on,” said Ericson. “I think that tonight was hopefully the start of something special for Atlanta sports getting on the right track. What a huge win. That was so much fun to watch. I think that’s really cool for the state of Georgia and Atlanta in general.
“I don’t believe in the curses just because I’m an actual player and I know that we control our own destiny,” said Johnson. “The players and coaches win the games, so it’s on us.”
Regardless, we will know in just 69 days whether the Bulldogs can uphold a perfect season.