ATLANTA — When faculty soccer’s playoff discipline triples from 4 groups to 12 subsequent 12 months, a lot of the drama we witnessed on this 12 months’s rivalry week will evaporate. That’s to not recommend enlargement was the mistaken choice. However Alabama, Washington and Florida State all virtually misplaced this week, and Georgia was simply sloppy sufficient Saturday to push each Bulldogs’ fan into some degree of panic about dropping to a Georgia Tech workforce that misplaced to Bowling Inexperienced.
Subsequent season, there’s a very good probability some prime ranked groups can stumble in season-enders, be given the advantage of the doubt and make the playoffs.
However Georgia lacks one thing important at this time: that very same good thing about the doubt.
Coach Kirby Good wasn’t ready to acknowledge this after the Bulldogs’ shaky 31-23 win over the Yellow Jackets, nevertheless it’s usually understood that even a 12-0 common season that features a third straight undefeated run by the SEC schedule gained’t imply loads subsequent week. Georgia might and will stay No. 1 within the Faculty Soccer Playoff rankings going into the SEC championship in opposition to Alabama, however the workforce is assured nothing if it loses the convention title recreation, given the backdrop.
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I requested Good if he believed his workforce had finished sufficient to earn a playoff berth or a win over Alabama was wanted to get one of many 4 spots. He declined to foyer on his workforce’s behalf or to instantly reply. There’s a message in that.
“I wouldn’t actually wish to reply that,” Good mentioned. “I’m so apprehensive about what we’re doing and getting higher that I’m going to go away that to you guys. I’m not apprehensive about lobbying for something. I’m apprehensive about enjoying for an SEC championship, which is admittedly onerous — actually onerous to get.”
Sure, it’s. And regardless of Alabama needing a fourth-and-31 landing go within the ultimate seconds — that’s even worse than second-and-26! — to beat Auburn, that’s simply not an opponent any workforce needs to face with a playoff berth on the road.
This isn’t 2021, when the Bulldogs misplaced the SEC championship to the Crimson Tide however made the playoff discipline, anyway, permitting them an eventual rematch with Alabama within the nationwide title recreation. It was then that they exorcised the Nick Saban demons and gained their first title in 41 years.
This isn’t 2022. Georgia dismantled LSU 50-30 for the SEC championship however it could have superior to the playoffs even with a loss. (Even TCU misplaced its convention championship and made it into the sector.)
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It’s a distinct backdrop this season. One berth will go to the Pac-12 championship winner between Washington and Oregon. One will go to Michigan, assuming the Wolverines thump Iowa for the Massive Ten title. One will go to the SEC winner. If that’s Alabama, Georgia probably would wish Florida State to lose the ACC recreation to Louisville and presumably Texas to lose the Massive 12 championship to Oklahoma State.
Think about going 12-0 and it not being sufficient. Think about operating by the SEC schedule for the third straight 12 months, together with beating three ranked groups (Missouri, Ole Miss, Tennessee) in consecutive weeks, and it nonetheless not being sufficient. Having a win over Oklahoma on the resume this season may’ve helped if the sport in opposition to the Sooners hadn’t been dropped. However possibly not. Georgia is likely to be on this place, regardless.
They should beat Alabama.
29 STRAIGHT WINS.
A brand new SEC report.
— Southeastern Convention (@SEC) November 26, 2023
One thing appears very regular about that.
“Doesn’t matter,” senior Sedric Van Pran. “On the finish of the day, the purpose is to attempt to win the SEC championship.”
“I don’t know,” quarterback Carson Beck mentioned when requested if he thought the Bulldogs had proved sufficient to the committee. “Clearly, we have now the SEC Championship Sport subsequent week, and we’ll simply go into that and attempt to be 1-0. If we gotta win, we gotta win. That’s all I’m apprehensive about. We’ve had a very good season up up to now. 12-0, undefeated, have fun that. However we have now a giant recreation subsequent week.”
The Alabama recreation might have been on all people’s thoughts on the mistaken time.
Good was minus a handful of injured regulars, together with broad receivers Ladd McConkey and Rara Thomas. He sat his greatest participant, Brock Bowers, who performed the final two weeks after coming back from ankle surgical procedure. Good mentioned Bowers was “beat up” and “extra sore this week than he’s been.”
When requested if Bowers would have performed if this was a championship, Good mentioned, “This was a championship. The state championship.”
Undecided anyone within the room purchased that one. It appears extra probably Good wished Bowers as wholesome as doable for subsequent week. However shifting on.
The ripple impact of lacking three of his greatest weapons was illustrated by Beck’s stat line: He threw for a season-low 175 yards and tried a low 20 passes (with 13 completions). He was intercepted as soon as, considered one of two Georgia turnovers that Tech transformed into landing drives. Working backs Kendall Milton (156 yards, two touchdowns) and Daijun Edwards (55, one TD) carried the load.
“We didn’t precisely look the way in which we wished to,” Beck mentioned.
No, they didn’t, not on both aspect of the ball. Georgia Tech might deserve some credit score for that, however that’s not going to determine into the playoff committee’s evaluation. There are too many undefeated and one-loss groups close to the highest. Unusual because it sounds after a 12-0 season, Georgia nonetheless has to show one thing subsequent week.
(Photograph of coach Kirby Good and Brock Bowers leaving the sector after Georgia’s 31-23 win in opposition to Georgia Tech: Jeffrey Vest / Icon Sportswire by way of Getty Photographs)
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