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Even Ranked No. 1, the Dawgs Are Flying Under the Radar So Far

Georgia’s best running back so far this year is actually a wide receiver, Dillon Bell. Credit: Kari Hodges/UGA Athletic Association

Two weeks into the college football season, the Georgia Bulldogs are 2-0 while working toward a third consecutive national title, and I don’t have a take. 

I’m sorry. It’s at this point in the young season that I typically want to spice things up, to get the take machine fired up and either tell you A) why we’re definitely going to win another title, or B) why we’re not going to win another game and need to fire everybody. But I’m just not there.

Had things gone according to plan, the Dawgs would have played Oklahoma last weekend, but that was kiboshed ahead of the Sooners’ move to the SEC in 2024. If it had gone ahead, I’m sure I would’ve had piping-hot takes about Carson Beck or Mike Bobo or our chances at a threepeat. But two games into this season, there aren’t many takes to be had, piping hot or otherwise.

Instead of a marquee matchup with Oklahoma, the Dawgs followed up their season-opening 48-7 win over UT Martin with a 45-3 win over Ball State. And while dominating any opponent and scoring lots of points is always a good time, what can we learn from beatdowns of inferior opposition?

There are plenty of positives we can hang our hat on early. You’ll be shocked to learn that a Kirby Smart-coached defense is once again outstanding. The Dawgs gave up fewer than 300 total yards of offense in each of the last two weeks and only allowed one touchdown, and that came in garbage time. Many of the names are somewhat new, since many of the new starters have served in backup roles over the last few seasons, but the results are the same.

But those positives must be taken with a grain of salt. As nice as it is to force three turnovers against Ball State, it’s a different story doing that against Michigan or Ohio State in January. So, yeah, the defense looks great. But how great is it compared to the Georgia defenses of the last few years, or compared to the offenses it will need to face to win another title? It’ll take some time to get that answer.

By the same token, anything that seems bad needs to be taken with a grain of salt, as well. The season is young, and we’re all looking for things to be worried about. The success of the last two years has done a lot to erase the self-doubt and Munsonitis from the fanbase, but we’re Georgia fans, and it’s in our very nature to look for the impending disaster around the corner. This year, we’ve selected the run game as our hobby horse.

So far, the Dawgs are averaging 129 rushing yards a game, ranking 93rd in the country. Even taking into account a myriad of injuries in the backfield—Daijun Edwards hasn’t played and Kendall Milton isn’t 100%—this group is a far cry from the Gurshall or Chubb/Michel days. Wide receiver Dillon Bell looked like our biggest threat at the position when called upon to line up at tailback, scampering for a 21-yard touchdown in the second quarter against Ball State. (He needs to get rid of that No. 86 if he’s gonna keep playing tailback.) The run game is something to keep an eye on as the season progresses, but not something to get bent out of shape over right now.

The Dawgs are in a strange spot. We are the reigning back-to-back national champions, No. 1 in the polls, yet are still coming in under the radar. The weak early schedule is partially to blame, as is the lack of big-name players compared to the last few seasons. College football fans know who Brock Bowers is, but they don’t know Carson Beck, Mykel Williams and Malaki Starks the way they knew Stetson Bennett, Jalen Carter and Kelee Ringo. Yet.

Meanwhile, the media is busy shining its spotlight on a number of resurgent powers. Texas, Florida State, Colorado and Miami are going to suck up a lot of oxygen this season. There was a time when it would’ve bothered me that Georgia is ranked first in the country and no one is talking about them. After a couple of national titles, I can live with it. We’ll crawl under the radar with one of the most talented rosters in college football until it’s time to step back into the spotlight.