Mark Bradley

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

The No. 2 choice to win the CFB playoff? Georgia

A sign o' the times. (Curtis Compton/AJC photo)

Georgia won't be in the first four when the initial College Football Playoff standings are announced today, which isn't to say Georgia won't be the final four come Dec. 7. For a team still officially without its best player, the Bulldogs are in a remarkably strong position, which is reflected by those cold-eye realists in Las Vegas.

According to publicist Jimmy Shapiro, Bovada lists Georgia as the second-favorite not just to make the playoff but to win the thing. Alabama is No. 1. (Wait a second. Wasn't it just the other day we all thought Alabama wasn't any good anymore?) Tied with the Bulldogs at No. 2 are Mississippi State and Oregon. Florida State, you'll be interested to know, is the fifth choice.

As we've known all along, it's a great year to be a good team in the SEC East. Nobody else in the division is anything special, and nearly everybody in the West is excellent. (And Georgia, again by luck of the draw, got to play Arkansas, the one exception.) It's theoretically possible that the Bulldogs could lose to Florida or Kentucky, but the one truly difficult remaining game is against Auburn in Athens, and a worse Georgia team should have beaten a better Auburn team last year at Jordan-Hare.

Provided Georgia wins the East, it would then face what could be a battered SEC West champ in the Georgia Dome. Maybe Georgia couldn't beat Alabama in Tuscaloosa or Mississippi State in Cowbell County, but that's a moot point. The game will be in Atlanta, not in the Central Time Zone.

And now you're saying: Aren't you getting ahead of yourself? Isn't this Georgia-Florida week? Aren't the Gators primed for a big day? To the latter, my answer is: No, they're not. They're a bad team with a terrible coach. Gurley or no Gurley, Georgia's not losing in Jacksonville.

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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.