Good morning. This is LEADOFF, an early look at Atlanta sports.
While in Atlanta for the opening weekend of college football season, ESPN analyst (and former Heisman Trophy winner) Desmond Howard shared his interesting set of predictions about the 2017 Georgia Bulldogs.
“I’m a guy who likes to think out of the box,” he said, prefacing his prognostication.
Georgia will win the SEC championship, he predicted, drawing applause from much of the audience at a luncheon event at the College Football Hall of Fame on Friday.
“But, but, but, but, there’s more,” Howard said, quieting the room.
Despite winning the SEC, Georgia won’t make the four-team field for the College Football Playoff, he predicted.
Alabama, he said, will earn a playoff berth despite not winning the SEC title game.
Howard likened his Georgia scenario to Penn State failing to reach the playoff last season despite winning the Big Ten championship. Ohio State, which lost a regular-season game to Penn State and didn’t reach the Big Ten title game, made the playoff.
In addition to Alabama, Howard’s predicted playoff field – previously unveiled on ESPN’s season-preview show, which he good-naturedly noted most in the room Friday had not watched -- includes Wisconsin, Mark Richt-coached Miami and Stanford.
He sees Stanford beating Alabama in the national title game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Jan. 8.
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