Where is Georgia football in ‘way too early’ 2021 rankings?

Georgia head coach Kirby Smart and another coach celebrate a Georgia field goal to beat Cincinnati during the second half of the Peach Bowl NCAA college football game, Friday, Jan. 1, 2021, in Atlanta. Georgia won 22-21. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Georgia head coach Kirby Smart and another coach celebrate a Georgia field goal to beat Cincinnati during the second half of the Peach Bowl NCAA college football game, Friday, Jan. 1, 2021, in Atlanta. Georgia won 22-21. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Credit: Brynn Anderson

Credit: Brynn Anderson

ATHENS — “Way Too Early” is in the name above all of them, so take their guesses for what they’re worth. But Georgia is represented in the top 5 of at least eight different rankings predicting the power order to open the 2021 college football rankings, with at least one nod for No. 1.

This, of course, is coming one day after the 2020 college football season was decided with No. 1 Alabama defeating No. 3 Ohio State 52-24 in the College Football Playoff Championship game. That precipitated the last Associated Poll of the 2020 season, which had Georgia finishing No. 7. That was the fourth consecutive year Kirby Smart’s teams have finished in the top 10 of the final media poll.

As for 2021, the Bulldogs were picked No. 1 in one of the eight way-too-early rankings strewn across the internet. That came from Fox Sports’ Joel Klatt, who ironically was one of Georgia’s biggest detractors this season. Nevertheless, he had the Bulldogs ranked No. 1, ahead of No. 2 Alabama and No. 5 Clemson.

Georgia will open the 2021 season against Clemson on Sept. 4 in Charlotte, N.C., if the coronavirus pandemic will allow.

The defending ACC champion Tigers were picked No. 1 in two of the rankings surveyed Monday, including Mark Schlabach’s long-running way-too-early prediction for ESPN, and Matt Murschel’s lesser-known designation for the Orlando Sentinel.

Defending national champion Alabama is the overwhelming favorite in these eight rankings. The Crimson Tide was picked first in four: USA Today, Sporting News, 247Sports and Stewart Mandel of The Athletic.

Georgia’s next highest prediction was No. 2 by USA Today’s Erick Smith and then No. 3 by Brett McMurphy of Stadium. The Bulldogs were fourth or fifth in five of the lists.

Taken together, Georgia enters the 2021 with an average preseason ranking of 3.5, while Clemson enters the preseason at 2.9 and Alabama at 1.5.

It all goes according to plan, the Bulldogs will play both teams in 2021, Clemson in the opener and Bama in the SEC Championship game.

But if 2021 is anything like 2020, very little will go as planned. Lest we forget, about this time last year, Georgia was still adjusting to the news that quarterback Jake Fromm was turning pro. Soon after, the Bulldogs were relieved to find out that Wake Forest’s Jamie Newman, the most sought-after graduate transfer of the offseason, was coming their way.

Everyone knows how that worked out. And virtually no one at this point had any idea who JT Daniels was.

As it stands as of Monday, pending the draft decision of running back Zamir White, the Bulldogs have Daniels among nine returning starters on offense, seven on defense (six if one counts Richard LeCounte rather than Christopher Smith returning) and all of its specialists.

So, optimism abounds. Then, again, it’s way too early.

WAY-TOO-EARLY RANKINGS

Media outlet, Georgia, Clemson, Alabama

Fox Sports (Joel Klatt), 1 5 2

USA Today (Erick Smith), 2 4 1

Stadium (Brett McMurphy), 3 5 2

247Sports (Sonny Shipp), 4 3 1

Athletic (Stewart Mandel), 4 3 1

ESPN (Mark Schlabach), 4 1 2

Orlando Sentinel (Matt Murschel), 5 1 2

Sporting News (Bill Bender), 5 2 1

AVERAGE, 3.5 2.9 1.5

In Other News