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Go East, Young Man: Georgia in Search of Redemption

A look at some of the contenders for the SEC East

The setup | The season started with Mark Richt on a seat that was almost literally melting -- a less-than-competitive loss to Boise State and a home defeat against South Carolina that looked to put an early end to the Dawgs' hopes to contend in the division this year. But then they hit a part of the schedule seemingly built to give a break to a team off to a bad start, with games against Coastal Carolina, at Ole Miss, and against a sliding Mississippi State. Suddenly, all the Dawgs need to look like a contender again is a win this weekend in Knoxville.

The schedule | If Georgia gets past this weekend, you have to like their chances. The only true road game on the schedule is at Vanderbilt. The Auburn showdown is in Sanford Stadium, and of course there's the face-off with Florida in October. But if the Florida game is a loss and South Carolina can turn things around, the Dawgs' schedule won't be able to get them back into what will once again be a two-team race.

Why they will win it | The soft schedule doesn't hurt. Georgia does nothing particularly well, but the Dawgs also don't do anything poorly, and that can make you the proverbial one-eyed man in a division like the SEC East. One of the things they are pretty solid at is total defense, despite their scoring defense numbers. If those numbers can move a little bit closer together -- in the direction of the total defense -- then Georgia could be a very tough out.

Why they won't | Aaron Murray, who was supposed to be a major factor in this year's march back to a great season, has become a turnover machine. The next three games also come on the road in some form, if you count the neutral site game against Florida. If they start to wear out after that slog, Florida could knock them out of the race.

Verdict | Georgia is probably going to be around for a while this year. The schedule doesn't provide enough knockout blows to take them out of the race through at least October, and they could be mathematically in the division until the last week of the season. It didn't start out the way Georgia or Mark Richt wanted it to, but the end result could be all that matters for fans and Richt's employment status.