Bulldogs rise to top spot in College Football Playoff rankings

Georgia quarterback Carson Beck (15) celebrates with offensive lineman Sedrick Van Pran (63) after his touchdown pass to Georgia wide receiver Ladd McConkey (not pictured) during the first quarter against Ole Miss at Sanford Stadium, Saturday, November 11, 2023, in Athens, Ga. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

Credit: Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Credit: Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Georgia quarterback Carson Beck (15) celebrates with offensive lineman Sedrick Van Pran (63) after his touchdown pass to Georgia wide receiver Ladd McConkey (not pictured) during the first quarter against Ole Miss at Sanford Stadium, Saturday, November 11, 2023, in Athens, Ga. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

ATHENS -- The Georgia Bulldogs are back on top. Not that they ever really left.

The two-time defending national champion Bulldogs (10-0, 7-0 SEC) still haven’t lost a game and they’ve been ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press poll for an SEC record 22 weeks in a row. But the College Football Playoff selection committee for the first time this season sees Georgia as the nation’s No. 1 team. The 13-member group arrived at that decision in their third vote of the year on Tuesday.

Georgia was No. 2 behind Ohio State in the previous two rankings, which began Oct. 31. The Buckeyes (10-0) slipped back to No. 2, with fellow Big Ten member Michigan at No. 3 and Florida State No. 4. The top four teams are all undefeated.

Washington (10-0) and Oregon (9-1) rounded out this week’s top six.

The consensus among the panelists on Tuesday night’s broadcast and selection show was the Bulldogs’ schedule simply allowed them to finally show their strength. In the last two weeks, Georgia defeated No. 12 Missouri, which moved up to No. 9 this week, and No. 9 Ole Miss, which dropped to 13th after Saturday’s 52-17 loss at the hands of the Bulldogs at Sanford Stadium.

“I think you just look at the games ... the win last week over Missouri and then the Mississippi game,” committee chairman Boo Corrigan said. “It’s tied 14-all and they go on a 38-3 run and kind of showed their dominance both on offense and on defense against a really strong Mississippi offense. In looking at it and the resume and everything combined, we thought Georgia was the No. 1 team this week.”

ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit pointed out to viewers that the Bulldogs are just now getting healthy. Last Saturday against the Rebels was the first time all season that Georgia’s offense had all its starters on the field together. Tight end Brock Bowers, flanker Ladd McConkey, tackle Amarius Mims and running back Daijun Edwards all have missed multiple games with injuries.

All will be on hand when the Bulldogs carry a 27-game winning streak to Knoxville Saturday to take on Tennessee (7-3, 3-3 SEC).

“This is the Georgia team that I think everybody envisioned them being and living up to that standard of the last couple of years,” Herbstreit said. “This is a different kind of team. They don’t have those game-wreckers up front like Jalen Carter. But, man, they are good, they are healthy and they’re heading in a great direction. If we could just fast-forward to Atlanta for Georgia and Alabama.”

The Bulldogs and Crimson Tide (9-1, 7-0) each have already clinched their respective East and West spots in the Dec. 2 SEC Championship game in Atlanta. Alabama, which remained No. 8 in Tuesday’s third CFP rankings release, has games remaining against Chattanooga in Tuscaloosa this Saturday and on the road at Auburn on Nov. 25. Georgia faces Georgia Tech in Atlanta in the regular-season finale, also on Nov. 25