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Coaches rank Georgia No. 3 to open season

Here's a look at Georgia's 2019 football schedule.

Expectations for Georgia football officially are the greatest they’ve been in more than a decade.

The USA Today Coaches’ poll was released Thursday, and the Bulldogs are ranked No. 3. That’s the highest preseason ranking for the Bulldogs in that poll since 2008, when they opened the year ranked No. 1 in the USA Today and Associated Press polls. Georgia finished 10th and 13th, respectively, that season.

Clemson and Alabama are ranked Nos. 1 and 2, respectively.

The USA Today poll is voted on by a selection of FBS coaches.

Expectations were equally high for Georgia this time last year, when USA Today had Kirby Smart’s third team at No. 4 and the AP ranked it No. 3. The Bulldogs finished eighth and seventh, respectively, with an 11-3 final record.

The 2019 AP preseason poll, voted on by media members, won’t be released until later this month. But based on the rankings of various other preseason prognostications, odds favor the Bulldogs also being third in that poll.

Georgia is expected to run away with the SEC’s Eastern Division this season, which would place it in the SEC Championship game for a third consecutive year.

Four other SEC teams join Georgia in the coaches' Top 25, including LSU (6), Florida (8), Texas A&M (11) and Auburn (16). Notre Dame, which visits Athens on Sept. 21, is No. 9.

Traditionally, Georgia has been picked lower in preseason polls in seasons it actually won the SEC championship. The Bulldogs were ranked 15th in both polls when they won the SEC in 2017, were 13th in both in 2005 and were eighth and 11th, respectively, in 2002.

The polls were decidedly different back then, but Georgia was ranked No. 16 in the preseason poll of 1980, the last season in which it ended as national champion.

USA Today Coaches Top 25

1. Clemson
2. Alabama
3. Georgia
4. Oklahoma
5. Ohio State
6. LSU
7. Michigan
8. Florida
9. Notre Dame
10. Texas
11. Texas A&M
12. Washington
13. Oregon
14. Penn State
15. Utah
16. Auburn
17-tie. Wisconsin
17-tie. Central Florida
19. Iowa
20. Michigan State
21. Washington State
22. Syracuse
23. Stanford
24. Iowa State
25. Northwestern