Georgia running back Nick Chubb scores a touchdown against Appalachian State on Saturday.
Photo: Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com
Photo: Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com

LEADOFF: Analyst predicts Georgia will win SEC, yet fail to make playoff

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. 

Kirby Smart: Jacob Eason will miss Notre Dame game

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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Georgia Tech and Tennessee fans were excited to see the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

READ ON ...

Click here to see how Ken Sugiura graded Georgia Tech’s performance in its 42-41 overtime loss to Tennessee in a Chick-fil-A Kickoff game Monday night. And here to read about Tech’s answer to its QB mystery. 

Click here for the latest on Georgia QB Jacob Eason’s sprained knee ligament. And here to read about Georgia players’ confidence in his backup. 

Check out the TV ratings for Alabama-FSU and Georgia-Appalachian State games 

The Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl began the celebration of its 50th season by unveiling an almost 30-foot-tall peach sculpture near its new home. See story here.

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