Following their 62-0 obliteration of divisional rival Vanderbilt, UGA Football has solidified itself as a top-2 team in the country. However, many feel that 2nd-place is not enough for how good the Dawgs truly are.
As of the latest installment of the AP Top 25 Poll, the Georgia Bulldogs still sit right behind the Alabama Crimson Tide. This should, of course, be no surprise to anyone, as the Tide are the defending national champions; they also have quite an impressive 2021 resume of their own thus far.
But regardless, if the Dawgs were to put on an impressive enough showing over the 8th-ranked Arkansas Razorbacks this weekend, could they dethrone Alabama as the top team in the land?
Just How Good is Arkansas?
The Razorbacks are off to their best start in years, sitting at 4-0 (with half of their opponents so far being Power 5). With double-digit wins coming from all of their first four matchups, they are definitely formidable.
Now some doubters could argue that even the bigger names that Arkansas has downed (Texas and Texas A&M) have been overrated to at least some degree. However, said names have only one loss each, both being to the Backs. So at this point, calling either one overrated is mostly hearsay, and should not invalidate the might of the SEC West hopeful.
Can UGA Football Best Them?
Absolutely. Georgia has vastly superior talent on both sides of the ball, along with some of the best coaching in the country. That goes without mentioning that they have also managed to look stronger on the field, despite playing bigger competition.
As of Tuesday, September 28th, ESPN has given a hefty spread in Georgia’s favor (-18.5). This is four notches higher than the one given to Alabama for their next foe, who is possibly even weaker than Arkansas.
Who Does Alabama Play?
While UGA Football has a big boy on their hands, it’s not like Bama will be cruising by with another Mercer. Rather, they will have a conference meeting of their own with rival Ole Miss, who stands proudly at 12th in the AP Poll this week.
There was a time–not even a decade ago–where Ole Miss was one of the Tide’s biggest struggles in the SEC. But now, they are looking to make it six consecutive wins over the Rebels. That is if they can figure out how to stop them.
In the last two meetings between the divisional adversaries, Alabama has given up an average of 39.5 points. Having already struggled to escape Florida, that should not make the Tide feel safe at all this time around. Luckily for them, though, Ole Miss has struggled to stop them, as well.
In those same two meetings between Ole Miss and Bama, the Rebels have allowed an average of 61 points. That is inexcusable, even when playing someone of the Tide’s greatness.
However, Mississippi head coach Lane Kiffin and his staff have appeared to have garnered some solidity on defense this year. But nonetheless, Alabama will be a test like none other before them on the Rebels 2021 slate.
What Would it Take for the Rankings to Change?
Assuming that both favorites (Georgia and Alabama) win by as much as they are currently expected to, there would not–and should not–be any change in the top two. Rather, it would take a huge UGA victory combined with a Bama escape to truly roll the dice at seeing any change. This would most likely be because of the overall resume comparison.
Looking at who all the Dawgs have already overcome this season, they are yet to face an FCS-level opponent. The same cannot be said for the Tide, who ran over Mercer in week two.
Also, each team’s best-quality win (Georgia over Clemson, Alabama over Miami) has both been severely weakened. Since those opening matchups, both the Tigers and Hurricanes have fallen to 2-2. However, Clemson is at least ranked still, hanging on by a thread at 25th. And while on the topic, Miami has done nothing to prove that they are as tough as Clemson anyway.
Lastly, Florida (the only other currently-ranked foe that either power has faced) scared Bama to death in week three. While the Bulldogs only bested the Tigers by seven, they were still in clear control of the game. As far as the Tide and Gators go, that game could have had a completely different outcome had the latter’s offense woken up any sooner.
The Takeaway for UGA Football
For Georgia to take the top spot in the AP rankings, they would have to do their part in beating Arkansas by any margin. Beyond that point, it would boil down to how Alabama will perform against Ole Miss. If the Rebels win, beating Arkansas will obviously be enough, regardless of how convincingly it was done. If Bama wins but struggles in doing so, UGA will need to have really opened up the margin of victory, beating the Razorbacks by at least three or four scores. Those are most likely the only ways that the Dawgs could exit this upcoming weekend as the top team in America, but that means that doing so is certainly not impossible.