After their big win over Nebraska in the Citrus Bowl on New Year's Day, the Georgia Bulldogs head into an off-season where it looks like they're going to have to go into almost full rebuild mode. The Bulldogs have 16 seniors leaving the program after their Citrus Bowl win, and even some juniors looking at the NFL.
After finishing seventh in the BCS standings this past season, Georgia opened up at 28/1 to win the BCS championship in 2014. 13 schools have better odds to win the title next season, including Alabama, LSU, Florida, and even South Carolina. Of course all of these schools are in the SEC as well as Georgia.
It doesn't get any easier, as it seems that Georgia has at least 10 to 15 sure fire NFL draft picks going into April's draft. This is going to leave an anonymous hold on their roster, but the Bulldogs do have some bright spots on the roster as underclassmen, as well as a great recruiting class coming in.
Perhaps the biggest and best news coming in to Athens Georgia going into next season is that soon-to-be senior Aaron Murray will be returning for that senior season to play football for the Bulldogs. Some experts say that Murray left significant NFL money on the table by returning for his senior season, but either way its good news for Bulldogs fans. Murray threw for almost 3900 yards and 36 touchdowns in his junior season, leading the Bulldogs all the way to their Citrus Bowl victory.
Also returning will be one of the standout freshmen from last season, Todd Gurley. Gurley ran for nearly 1400 yard this past season as a freshman, averaging over 6.2 yards per carry, and scoring 17 touchdowns.
The soon-to-be sophomore had some outstanding performances in his first year as a college running back, including 122 yards and two touchdowns in the SEC title game against Alabama, who of course went on to stifle Notre Dame in the BCS championship. Gurley also had a phenomenal performance in the Citrus Bowl, where he rushed for 125 yards and another touchdown. The Bulldogs are also returning Keith Marshall, who added eight more touchdowns and 750 yards on the ground as a freshman as well last season.
So, you may be asking why are the Bulldogs at 28/1 next season? Well it could be because eight and possibly even nine of the Bulldogs that are about to be drafted in this April's NFL draft played defense on last year’s team. That team gave up less than 20 points per game.
It also doesn't help to the Bulldogs are losing arguably two of the best linebackers from last season. Jarvis Jones is the number one outside linebacker listed on a lot of scouts draft orders this year, and Alec Ogletree is considered by some to be one of the best inside linebackers in this year’s draft. Losing two guys like that alone will definitely knock down your chances at winning a BCS title next season.The mountain and needs to be climbed is very steep for the Bulldogs, but if some of their incoming freshmen pan out for next season, especially on defense, this offense is going to have some firepower it hasn’t seen since Matt Stafford’s days there. But if you can’t play defense in the SEC, it’s going to be tough to win against the conference elite.