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Mark Bradley

Mark Bradley is a sports columnist and blogger for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Sad that UGA's Gurley got 4 games? Don't be

Todd Gurley will miss Kentucky, which won't be offended. (Jason Getz/AJC photo)

I know Georgia fans are upset that Todd Gurley won't be allowed back until the Auburn game on Nov. 15, but let's be realistic: Until Wednesday, there was no guarantee he'd be back at all. Owing to the level of the impermissible benefits ($3,000, or three times the $1,000 A.J. Green got for his Independence Bowl jersey) and the number of times Gurley took money for signing (apparently many, meaning this couldn't be written off as a single lapse in judgment), he's actually a lucky 'Dog, as it were.

At least now Georgia knows when Gurley can play again, which will be nice after 20 days of uncertainty, and that he'll be able to partake of the biggest remaining game of the regular season. (Imagine if the NCAA, which thought hard about toughening the four-game suspension, had bumped it to five. Whoa, Nellie.) Provided the Bulldogs can negotiate the next two weeks -- Florida in Jacksonville, Kentucky in Lexington -- they'll be in Position A to win a lot more than the SEC East.

The first College Football Playoff rankings, unveiled Tuesday, showed Georgia at No. 11. I know many of you Bulldog backers feel that's too low, but here's a word of advice: Keep calm and let the season run. Georgia has fewer chances to lose over the next month than does any team in the SEC West. If it can make it to the Georgia Dome on Dec. 6 without another loss and win there, it will be in the four-team playoff. You can take that to Gurley's bank.

On Oct. 9, the day of Gurley's suspension, many among you wondered if the Bulldogs could still finish above .500. There's a real chance they could enter 2015 at 12-1. They've spent the past few weeks proving themselves as a team, and they've somehow looked more impressive without Gurley than with him. (Maybe Missouri and Arkansas weren't very good, but neither, as it happens, were South Carolina and Tennessee, and Georgia came close to losing both games.)

In sum, the UGA glass is way more than half-full. Gurley will return. The team has grown up in his absence. The schedule is most enticing. This still could work out quite nicely.

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About the Author

Mark Bradley is a sports columnist and blogger for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He has been with the AJC since 1984.