Top 25 teams and games
No 3. Georgia Bulldogs
Published: Friday, June 27, 2008 at 8:33 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, June 27, 2008 at 8:33 p.m.
TEAM NO. 3 — GEORGIA
The buzz: The Bulldogs seem to be everyone's pick to end up in the BCS title game. With 17 starters returning from last year's team, which finished No. 2 in the country, why not? Georgia's offense struggled early on last year in losses to South Carolina and Tennessee. However, with the maturation of a young offensive line and the emergence of freshman tailback Knowshon Moreno, the Bulldogs ended the season in a flurry with impressive wins over top 25 teams Florida, Auburn, Kentucky, Georgia Tech and Hawaii.
Difference-maker: Knowshon Moreno. Last year, Georgia finally had to make Moreno the featured back in the Florida game after injuries to senior running backs Thomas Brown and Kregg Lumpkin. Moreno torched the Gators for 188 yards and three touchdowns. His swagger on the field, however, seemed to give Georgia an edge it was missing in the first half of the season. The Bulldogs won their final six games of the season, all by 10 points or more.
The upside: Experience. Georgia has experience up and down its starting lineup. It starts on the defensive line, which includes four upperclassmen starting and three upperclassmen as backups. Senior middle linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, who led Georgia with 93 tackles last year, is back. On offense, Matthew Stafford begins his third season as starting quarterback. Senior fullback Brannan Southerland and senior wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi, meanwhile, are both four-year starters.
The downside: Special teams. Georgia will enter this season without an experienced place kicker following the departure of senior Brandon Coutu. The Bulldogs, who have a rich history of solid kickers, will likely lean on true freshman Blair Walsh this season.
Schedule factor: It's brutal. Georgia must play road games at Arizona State, at LSU and at Auburn. Oh, and there's also the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail party. The only favorable aspect of Georgia's schedule is having a bye week prior to hosting Tennessee on Oct. 11. Last year, the Volunteers had the bye week prior to playing Georgia and ripped the Bulldogs, 35-14, in Knoxville.
GAME NO. 3 — TEXAS AT KANSAS
Where: Memorial Stadium, Lawrence, Kansas
When: Nov. 15
Why it's sexy: This occurs late in the season (it's the second-to-last game for each team) which means it could have major implications in the Big 12. Kansas will be looking to repeat as Big 12 North champions while Texas will be trying to win the South for the first time since 2005.
Preseason buzz: Most are predicting Kansas to finish behind Missouri in the Big 12 North and Texas behind Oklahoma in the South. At the very least, this game will feature a match-up of accomplished quarterbacks in Texas' Colt McCoy and Kansas' Todd Reesing.
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