Georgia Bulldogs: Number 1 Ranking Comes With Weight

JACKSONVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 28: Lorenzo Carter /

The undefeated Georgia Bulldogs (8-0) were just announced as the Number 1 team in all the land in the first CFB Playoff rankings of 2017. That is both blessing and curse.

There had been some faint discussion about whether Georgia would supplant Alabama in the top spot in the rankings once the official College Football Playoff rankings were released. With Alabama as the preseason, and season long, # 1 team in both the AP and Coaches Polls, it was mostly dismissed as conversation fodder. On the contrary, the Georgia Bulldogs are now currently the Number 1 team in all of college football. This will be both blessing and curse moving forward.

How could it be a curse? How could having the national spotlight on a program in the second year of a regime be bad? What, in any way, is bad about getting the kind of shine and love UGA is currently getting from national media?

Well, it may not be a bad thing. But it could be. The curse could be that, now, there is no underdog mantra. There is no way to look a player in the eyes and say, with honesty, that he is being disrespected. The fuel that fires the UGA engine has now changed in octane.

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A big part of coaching young men, regardless of sport, is motivation. Getting them to get past “the strain”. To press boundaries. To push limits. That was going to be a difficult challenge, anyway, with the blustery and gaudy undefeated record.

Now, though, this team has to carry the weight of expectation rather than hope. That is a different thing altogether. It is an open secret that other schools had made inroads in recruiting against Georgia last off-season by “negative recruiting”. Putting in the ears of young high school players things like, “sure, they are great dudes, but they can’t win. Look at their record”.

That kind of stuff had already been quelled with the aforementioned undefeated record and the abusive kinds of beat-down UGA has put on others conference wide this year. But, now, Smart and company get a chance to prove something else: That they carry a Number 1 on their back. And that they carry it with strength and force.

By all accounts that is ahead of schedule for even the most optimistic of Dawg Nation. Not even my cousin Robert (he of “we will go 7-0, bank on it” fame) couldn’t or wouldn’t have predicted this. But like with most coins you will find, one side comes with the other.

The other side to the weight of national expectations this early in regime change is the fact that Georgia now controls its destiny. A knock on the CFB Playoff Committee, and how it was set up, is that it went from a staid computer analysis, to the “wizard behind the curtain” type deal, where folks literally hide in a room and subjectively choose who is worthy.

With this Number 1 ranking, UGA now leaves no doubt. One could argue that, even at 11-1, were they to win the SEC Championship, they would go to the playoffs. That’s probably right. But, as it stands, they win out, and they go. No committee can deny them that. It is decided.

To be sure, the scale and gauge of pressure for these last four regular season games just got dialed to 11. That Auburn game may blow a gasket. But we will find out if Kirby the conductor can keep this Georgia train barreling down the tracks.

If he can, the Georgia staff will have accomplished a couple of things. They will have rewarded those five seniors who decided to come back with a dream season and promises kept. They also will have dispelled for good the notion that they can’t win and don’t belong with the élite of college football. Recruiting will go nuclear.

But that is all analysis. Reality is that fans have been dreaming of this for a while. And through the haze of surprise and astonishment, Dawg Nation woke up today with a smile and song.

Next: Georgia Football: SEC East Put On Notice With UGA Domination Of Florida

If you don’t know what that song is, ask them. You won’t have to ask twice. They’ll sing it for you. Glory, Glory, Hallelujah.