Athlon Sports, a leading publisher of preseason college sports annuals, has picked the Georgia Bulldogs to win the SEC East in 2011. They rank the Dawgs 14th in their 2011 Preseason Top 25.
With Aaron Murray returning, Isaiah Crowell in the backfield, Blair Walsh and Drew Butler in the kicking game and the second year of Todd Grantham’s 3-4 defense, Athlon expects the Bulldogs to improve on their 6-7 record in 2010 and play in the 2011 SEC Championship Game.
The Bulldogs dipped last year, then they lost their best players on both sides of the ball, among other starters. The optimism rests with the influx of recruits, the return of Murray, the second year in the 3-4 defense, and a favorable league schedule that does not include Alabama or LSU — the two top teams in the West. This might not be a vintage Georgia team that is capable of competing for a national title, but the Bulldogs should be in the hunt to win the relatively mediocre SEC East.
For the record, Athlon ranked Georgia 15th in their 2010 Preseason Top 25. That’s probably where the Dawgs would have ended up if not for A.J. Green’s suspension and some lackluster play, especially against UCF.
The schedule does set up for the Dawgs if they can beat both Boise State and South Carolina to open the season. Along with not playing Alabama or LSU, Georgia has Auburn and Mississippi State at home, travels to a down Tennessee and plays Florida with an entire new coaching staff.
What do you thing of Athlon’s prediction and where do you think the Dawgs will end up? Let us know in the comments below.