So far, it’s a wide gap between No. 1 Bulldogs and the next best

Credit: UGA

Caption
How often does Georgia use its No. 1 ranking to motivate players? Coach Kirby Smart says the phrase is rarely uttered.

Credit: UGA

The No. 1-ranked college football team in the country appears to be No. 1 by a country mile. That Georgia is very good is obvious. Who is likely to challenge the Bulldogs supremacy is anything but.

We’re in confusing territory here, for the kingdom now ruled by the Bulldogs lacks all the usual landmarks. Traditional powers are flickering – Clemson’s about as ordinary as Spam, Alabama and Ohio State already sport the hairy wart of defeat. There being no one of proven pedigree up to the job, it’s now up to Cincinnati – titan of the American Athletic Conference – to serve as No. 2 in the rankings. I’m sorry, but the Bearcats are the Spiro Agnew of No. 2s.

So, to recap, there’s Georgia at No. 1.

Then insert yawning gap here.

Then hit the space bar a couple of more times.

Followed by everyone else.

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On their off-week before facing Florida, the Bulldogs have a little down time to enjoy this lofty status. Although there are no spa days scheduled in Athens as a reward for being so far and away better than the rest. It’s almost like they know that football rankings in October are about as binding as a New Hampshire primary.

As lead dog Kirby Smart put it during his Zoom conference Tuesday, around the ol’ Butts-Mehre complex, there’s not a lot of giddy talk about the No. 1 ranking. “The kids see it when they leave, and they hear about it through social media and different media outlets. I know they’re not oblivious to it.”

For a coach, Georgia’s standing is one to be wary of, not celebrated. Smart will ramp up his vaccination program against complacency, and rally behind the bromide that good is the enemy of great. “That is something we talk about a lot. We don’t want those things to affect us. Outside of that, the ranking doesn’t come up much,” he said.

For a fan, especially the nervous Georgia kind who has grown distrustful of good times, there is the risk of severe altitude sickness. The air is thin up here where the Bulldogs find themselves. It’s all quite dizzying.

But try to relax and enjoy. What a favored position Georgia is in right now. The most difficult part of the scheduled season is behind the Bulldogs – yes, strange things are known to happen against Florida, but these Gators are of little consequence. And the rumored return of prodigal quarterback JT Daniels is gaining traction. Smart said Daniels’ “pitch count” in practice is going ever upward. While most of us couldn’t try to throw the ball 45 yards without a shoulder turning to pudding, Daniels is reportedly doing so pain-free.

There are other unbeatens, of course, across the land. But none of them seem so thoroughly unbeaten as these Bulldogs. No one out there has come across so many teams ranked in the Top 25 at the time they played and demoted them with such ease – beating Clemson, Arkansas, Auburn and Kentucky by a combined score of 111-36. No one has a defense so capable of dismembering an opponent’s will.

Just shop and compare.

Cincinnati, 6-0, wanders outside the Power 5, and has one win over a ranked opponent (24-13 over Notre Dame).

No. 3 Oklahoma, 7-0, plays defense grudgingly and had to move heaven and earth to beat Tulane this year. The Sooners are just so many empty calories.

No. 6 Michigan, 6-0, has yet to play any ranked opposition and seems content to continue operating under the wrong Harbaugh (giving him a four-year extension at the start of 2021).

No. 8 Oklahoma State, 6-0, has walked a tightrope all year, with just one victory by as much as double-digits (10 points over Baylor).

No. 9 Michigan State, 6-0, will remain an enigma until meeting Michigan in two weeks and Ohio State in November.

I’d mention the 6-0 Wake Forest Demon Deacons, but let’s just throw a well-intentioned “Bless their heart” their way and leave it at that.

The Bulldogs currently are gifted by the combination of their own prowess and the lack of anyone who can claim to be better. Yes, that even includes Alabama this season. They are flush with opportunity here.

These Bulldogs are demonstrating the character to be great, in a season where greatness is in particularly short supply. “I think our team this year has shown toughness, resiliency, all those traits we talk about,” Smart said Tuesday.

Being so clearly and indisputably No. 1 is a fine place to spend an off week. The view is breathtaking up there.

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