Will SI Cover Jinx Dawgs?

If Georgia’s schedule weren’t tough enough, the Bulldogs now have an added obstacle this season: the Sports Illustrated cover jinx.

Ranked No. 1 by the magazine, Georgia — with tailback Knowshon Moreno, quarterback Matthew Stafford and linebacker Dannell Ellerbe featured — is one of five football teams on the cover of the college preview edition. Others include: Florida, Missouri, Ohio State and Southern Cal.

It has been 14 seasons since a team featured on the preview cover has gone on to win the national championship — that was in the 1993 season when Florida State’s Scott Bentley nailed the game-winning kick against Nebraska.

Since then, teams have had zero luck after being splashed on the cover of the popular magazine. In 2007, five schools were featured on separate college football editions — Arkansas, Michigan, Oklahoma, Southern Cal and West Virginia. Michigan got upset by Appalachian State in the season opener; Stanford stunned Southern Cal; West Virginia got tripped up by Pittsburgh at the end of the season. Arkansas finished 8-5, and Oklahoma finished 11-3.

In 2006, LSU, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Southern Cal, Texas and West Virginia were featured on the preseason covers, but Florida defeated Ohio State for the national championship.

This year, Sports Illustrated is predicting Georgia to edge out Florida for the East Division title. Then, the magazine expects the Bulldogs to knock off Auburn in the Southeastern Conference championship game.

Georgia will try to overcome a jinx that first hit the school in 1981 when running back Herschel Walker was on the Aug. 31 cover. Less than a month later, he fumbled twice and failed to score in the defending national champ’s 13-3 loss at Clemson.

– Courtesy of Augusta Chronicle

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Dawgs Nab Sports Illustrated Cover

Dawgs fans — Don’t forget to pick up today’s issue of Sports Illustrated, featuring your Georgia Bulldogs on the front cover!!!  Sports Illustrated is the latest publication to name the Georgia Bulldogs #1 in their Top 20 rankings.

Sports Illustrated Ranks Dawgs #1

The Bulldogs are No. 1 for the second time.

Sports Illustrated will rate Georgia as the top team in college football when the magazine hits the newsstands on Wednesday.

Among the excerpts in the magazine:

“Go ahead. Try to find a weakness. … Look closely for the chink in the armor of the team that features a third-year starter at quarterback (Matthew Stafford), possibly the second coming of Herschel Walker (sophomore Knowshon Moreno), one of the nation’s best linebacker tandems (Dannell Ellerbe and Rennie Curran)…

The rest of SI’s top 10 are: Ohio State, USC, Missouri, Florida, Oklahoma, Auburn, Texas Tech, LSU and Wisconsin.

Georgia debuted at No. 1 in the USA Today/Coaches poll last week.

– Courtesy of AJC.com

Some Fans Think Georgia is Overrated

Georgia Tech freshman Brent Thomas grew up in Valdosta drowning in a town full of Georgia fans.

So he said when the calls start jamming up his cellphone after Friday’s news, he will repeat what’s been chanted by thousands of Tech fans at games for dozens of years:

“To hell with Georgia.”

Georgia debuted No. 1 in the USA Today/Coaches’ preseason poll Friday, much to the ire of its rivals’ fans. Supporters of Tech and SEC schools were split on Georgia’s deservedness of the top spot. But all seemed to agree that the Bulldogs aren’t going to make it through the year unbeaten.

“I don’t understand how they can be ranked No. 1,” Thomas said. “They didn’t win their division last year. They lost to a team that didn’t go to a bowl [South Carolina]. Their big triumph was beating Haw-a-ii, who’s in the WAC.”

Fellow Tech freshman Ryan LaRocca wasn’t as perturbed as his friend. In fact, he was excited that the Bulldogs are on top.

“I hope they’re undefeated when we go up there to play them so we can knock them off the top,” he said. Tech will play Georgia on Nov. 29.

Thomas responded: “I’m not going to be that confident.”

One thing’s for sure: Fans of other SEC schools are more than confident their team will knock off Georgia.

South Carolina graduate Matt Garrick, 22, thinks the Bulldogs’ reign will be short-lived.

“The third game of the season they won’t be No. 1 anymore,” he said, referring to Georgia’s road game in Columbia, S.C.

Garrick and his friend, Will Allen, both said the Gamecocks will be able to pull out the victory for the same reason they did last year.

“Good coaching,” Allen said. “They really are deserving of that No. 1 ranking, though.”

Drew Churney, 22, grew up an hour away from Athens, but he has been a Gators fan since he was 8 years old.

In the past 10 years, only two teams have been able to start the preseason No. 1 and finish on top: USC (2004) and Florida State (1999).

Churney is sure the Bulldogs’ tough schedule will prevent them from matching the feat.

“Auburn’s always tough. [Steve] Spurrier has his Jedi mind tricks,” he said.

As for the game that Georgia will lose without a doubt? Easy: Florida.

“The team’s going to come amped up this year,” Churney said. “Matthew Stafford is garbage. He hasn’t proved anything. [Knowshon] Moreno is a heck of a running back, and they have Caleb King. Georgia always has garbage wide receivers.”

– Courtesy of AJC.com

Famous UGA Fans Talk About No. 1 Ranking

Justice Robert Benham, Georgia Supreme Court, Georgia Law, 1970.

— (His general reaction:) “I’m thrilled about the No. 1 ranking, excited about the upcoming season and confident the performance will equal the ranking.”

— (On whether he’ll wear Bulldogs paraphernalia under his robes:) “I don’t think we’ve come to that point yet.”

 

Chip Caray, TBS baseball play-by-play and Peachtree TV Braves announcer, Georgia class of ’87.

— (His general reaction:) “Like everybody else, I’m excited about it. To be ranked that highly you know the program is in great shape.

— (On possible banter with fellow Braves announcer Joe Simpson, who played baseball at Oklahoma. The Sooners were ranked fourth in the coaches’ poll): “I’m sure we’ll mention it. No. 4? I didn’t know the Sooners could count that high.”

 

Ralph Reed, conservative political activist, first executive director of the Christian Coalition, Georgia class of ’83.

— (His general reaction:) “I think it is a point of real pride for the Bulldog nation and perhaps it provides some small consolation for us being excluded from the national championship last season.”

— (On Georgia’s chances to win a title:) “It’s a tough road, but I think Georgia has as good or better shot than anybody else in the Top 10. The only wild card is how incredibly competitive the SEC has become.”

— (A strategist’s strategy for winning the title:) “The key to us doing well — assuming the Bulldogs play up to their potential on paper — as it was last year and years previous, you have to beat Florida in Jacksonville. That historically has been the make-or-break game.”

 

Deborah Norville, former “Today” co-host, current host of “Inside Edition,” Georgia class of 1979.

—(On her general feelings about the No. 1 ranking:) “I am beyond excited for the Bulldogs. What a great way for the new Uga to begin his reign.”

—(On her plans to visit Athens:) “I’ll be at UGA several times. In August, doing a college visit with my son who’s a rising senior. In November, when the Grady School of Journalism launches a new capital campaign. And for at least one game during the year.”

— (On whether she?ll be wearing the school colors on the set:) “I plan on wearing LOTS of red and black this year — so check out ‘Inside Edition’ on Fridays during football season to be sure I do.”

– Coutesy of AJC.com

Bulldogs Claim #1 Spot in “AHN Top 10”

 

Mike Easterling – AHN Reporter

We had Georgia on our mind, the University of Georgia that is, when it came to choosing the top college football team in the land for the “AHN Top 10” preseason rankings.

The Bulldogs have a top quarterback, stellar running back and loads of confidence after finishing last season with a flourish.

1. Georgia: The Bulldogs have a star quarterback in the making in Matthew Stafford, an All-America candidate at tailback in Knowshon Moreno and momentum of a strong finish in 2007.

2. USC: The Trojans have continued to load up on talent since Pete Carroll arrived in Los Angeles and led the program to 11-win seasons for an NCAA record six straight years.

3. Ohio State: Running back Chris Wells is an All-America and Heisman candidate for the Buckeyes, who will again contend for a spot in the BCS title game.

4. Florida: Heisman Trophy quarterback Tim Tebow’s return is enough to make the Gators a BCS threat, even in the rugged SEC.< p>

5. Oklahoma: The defensive front four is rugged, and the offense is sparked by national 2007 passing efficiency leader Sam Bradford.

6. Missouri: Fifteen starters, including QB Chase Daniel, return for a team that may be the best in Tigers’ history.

7. West Virginia: Quarterback Patrick White, the Big East Offensive Player of the Year the past two years, is back to run the spread-option offense.

8. Clemson: With perhaps the deepest talent in the ACC it’s time for the Tigers to make a move under Tommy Bowden.

9. LSU: The defending national champion has quarterback concerns, and have been picked to finish behind Auburn in the SEC West, but the defending champion is still a Top 10 squad.

10. Texas: The Longhorns edge Auburn and Illinois for the final spot, mainly because of a talent-laden squad and a winning pedigree of 10 victories in each of the last seven seasons.

Bulldogs #1 in AP Coaches Poll

It’s official: Georgia is No. 1.

To date, the tremendous expectations for the Bulldogs in 2008 were mostly, well, just expectations. But with Friday morning’s news that Georgia took the top spot in the USA Today coaches’ preseason poll, the notion that the Bulldogs should contend for a national championship this season is tangible and real. Georgia opens the season Aug. 30 against Georgia Southern.

“Being No. 1 in the coaches’ preseason poll does have significance, since it’s one-third of the formula to decide who plays in the national championship game,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said Friday in a news release from the university. “But the postseason poll is the one that is the most important. However, I know the ranking is exciting for Georgia football, and hopefully we can do our part to stay in the race.”

Georgia has never been ranked No. 1 by a major poll in the preseason, according to the UGA sports communications office. The Bulldogs were ranked No. 2 by The Associated Press in 1942, No. 3 by AP in 2004 and No. 6 by AP in 1967. The highest preseason ranking they received from the coaches’ poll was No. 4 in 2004. Georgia finished No. 1 in 1942 in six different polls but not AP.

Rounding out the top 10 in the coaches’ poll were USC, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Florida, LSU, Missouri, West Virginia, Clemson and Texas.

Georgia has already been declared preseason No. 1 in several publications, including Sporting News, Lindy’s, Blue Ribbon and the Birmingham News. AJC columnist Mark Bradley and college football expert Tony Barnhart are among several media members who have tabbed the Bulldogs to win it all in 2008.

Oddly, Georgia, which finished last season ranked No. 2 by AP and No. 3 by the coaches, was not even predicted to win the Eastern Division in the SEC this season, much less the overall league championship. That distinction went to Florida.

The preseason expectations are not catching the Bulldogs by surprise.

“That’s all we’ve heard about since last season,” senior defensive tackle Jeff Owens said last week at SEC Media Days. “But we’re not worried about all that. We’re just trying to do what we have to do to get better every day and everything else will take care of itself.”

Only two teams ranked No. 1 in the preseason in the past 10 years have held onto the top ranking at the end of the season. USC (2004) and Florida State (1999) both started preseason No. 1 in the AP and USA Today rankings and still finished on top.

Four teams finished second: Ohio State (2006), USC (2005), Miami (2002) and Ohio State (1998). Two teams finished third: Oklahoma (2003) and Florida (2001).

There was a split decision in 2007 for the preseason No. 1 Trojans, who finished No. 2 in USA Today and No. 3 in the AP after their Rose Bowl win against Illinois.

Nebraska fell to No. 7 in 2000 to finish with the lowest USA Today post-bowl ranking for a preseason No. 1.