cloudy
Sunday August 30th, 2015 10:40PM

Dogs face yet another top 10 showdown in September

By The Associated Press
ATHENS -- Aaron Murray can't imagine any school going through the sort of gauntlet Georgia has faced in the opening month of the season.

"We're probably the only team in history to start off with three top 10 teams in the first four games," the Bulldogs' senior quarterback said Tuesday.

Well, that's a bit of an exaggeration.

Three other teams in the BCS era, which dates to 1998, have faced a similar challenge at the start of the season.

But that doesn't lessen the significance of what No. 9 Georgia will be trying to accomplish on Saturday when it hosts sixth-ranked LSU in another huge Southeastern Conference game between the hedges.

If the Bulldogs can knock off the Tigers - and escape September with a 3-1 record - they'll likely be a serious national championship contender come late November.

"We definitely control our own fate," linebacker Jordan Jenkins said. "If we beat LSU ... that would boost us up in the polls. People would favor us more and realize we're still a title-worthy team."

According to STATS, Georgia is only the fourth team in the last 16 seasons to faced such a daunting schedule at the beginning of the season. The others were North Carolina in 2001, and both Arizona and Tulsa in 2011.

The Tar Heels went 1-2 against their top 10 opponents; Arizona and Tulsa both dropped all three games.

Georgia is looking to win two of three, having lost at then-No. 9 Clemson 38-35 in the season opener (the Tigers have since climbed to No. 3) before knocking off South Carolina 41-30 at home when the Gamecocks were ranked sixth.

"Everybody says, `Oh man, that must stink.' But I think it's fun. I think everybody on this teams thinks it's fun." Murray said. "It's fun preparing for these big type of games. It's fun playing in them. It adds a lot more excitement to the week."

Actually, at least one of Murray's teammates favored a bit of an easier schedule, at least at the beginning when the Bulldogs were breaking in so many new players on the defensive side.

"I would've preferred a top 10 team in the second or third game," Jenkins said. "Definitely not the first AND second games. That's definitely something that's hard to do. I don't think many teams would've come out with even one win with the schedule we've had so far this year."

After LSU (4-0), though, the schedule takes a big turn in Georgia's favor.

No. 20 Florida is the only team among the last eight regular-season opponents currently ranked in The Associated Press poll, and the Gators are hardly in a good place after losing quarterback Jeff Driskel to a season-ending injury last weekend.

Not that the Bulldogs are getting ahead of themselves, but the Tigers look like the last major stumbling block for a team that came oh-so-close to reaching the BCS title game last season.

"If you have a chance to win the SEC, you pretty much know every game has national championship implications," tight end Arthur Lynch said. "First and foremost, the goal is to win the SEC East. We've been SEC East champions twice. We've been in the SEC championship game the last two years, but haven't had a chance to win. The next goal is to make that step. Whatever comes after that is gravy."

It will be interesting to see how much progress Georgia's young defense has made over the opening month, facing an LSU team that has shown much more balance with new offensive coordinator Cam Cameron calling the plays and former Georgia quarterback Zach Mettenberger playing with plenty of poise and confidence.

With three freshmen starters, the Bulldogs struggled to stop Clemson and South Carolina, though they did make a huge goal-line stand to preserve the victory over the Gamecocks. Last week's victory against North Texas - which Georgia dominated statistically but didn't put away until the fourth quarter - was more about gaining much-needed experience than making any true reading on how much the youngsters have improved.

Murray said he's noticed plenty of positive signs on the practice field.

"As a whole, this team has grown over these past three or four weeks - especially on the defensive side of the ball," the quarterback said. "I've really been impressed to see how those guys have gotten better and better every week. I look forward to them getting even better this weekend."
© Copyright 2015 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Bartus, Icemen shuts out Gwinnett
Garrett Bartus pitched a 42 save shutout, as the Evansville IceMen topped the Gwinnett Gladiators on a New year
10:23PM ( 1 year ago )
Gator Bowl Preview Capsule
A rematch of last year's Capital One Bowl, which Georgia won 45-31 in Orlando.
8:52PM ( 1 year ago )
Millsap's 34 leads Hawks past Celtics
Paul Millsap had season highs with 34 points and 15 rebounds as the Hawks rallied from an 18-point deficit for a 92-91 win over the Boston Celtics on Tuesday afternoon.
7:44PM ( 1 year ago )
Sports
No. 19 Georgia blows past Illinois
Shacobia Barbee had 17 points, eight rebounds and six assists to lead No. 19 Georgia over Illinois 82-60 on Saturday.
10:42PM ( 1 year ago )
Dogs will face Nebraska without standout DE Moss
Nebraska defensive end Avery Moss returned to his home in Arizona to attend to a personal issue and won't play in the Gator Bowl against No. 23 Georgia next week.
10:16PM ( 1 year ago )
Georgia Southern coach Monken headed for Army
Desperate to snap its long losing streak against its archrival, Army has hired former Navy assistant Jeff Monken as its 37th football coach.
1:04PM ( 1 year ago )
College Sports
Turner Field US flag at half-staff, players' families deal with grief after fan dies in fall
ATLANTA (AP) — The U.S. flag flew at half-staff at Turner Field on Sunday, one day after a fan died following his fall from the upper deck into the lower-level stands during a game between the Atlanta...
7:26PM ( 3 hours ago )
Jones cruises to Truck win in Canada, takes points lead
Two weeks ago in the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Alex Tagliani got turned out of the lead by Regan Smith and lost his shot at a win.
By Stephanie Wallcraft-NASCAR Wire Service
6:17PM ( 4 hours ago )
Falcons sign Julio Jones to 5-year extension
The Atlanta Falcons agreed to a $71.25 million, five-year contract extension with Julio Jones on Saturday that compares favorably with recent deals paid to other top wide receivers.
By The Associated Press
8:46AM ( 13 hours ago )
Softball: Buford splits with S. Forsyth and Milton
The Buford girls softball team split a pair of games Saturday with South Forsyth and Milton in a yearly series between the three schools.
By AccessWDUN staff
7:06AM ( 15 hours ago )
Falcons fall to Dolphins in preseason
Ryan Tannehill threw for 145 yards in less than a half despite working behind a makeshift offensive line, and the Miami Dolphins beat the Atlanta Falcons 13-9 in an exhibition game Saturday night.
By The Associated Press
7:00AM ( 15 hours ago )