(11) Kentucky
13
Final
30
(1) Georgia
Georgia football-national media-defense-2021
091821 Athens: Georgia defensive lineman Jordan Davis (from left), outside linebacker Robert Beal Jr., and defensive lineman Devonte Wyatt get the defensive set from the sidelines against South Carolina during the first half in a NCAA college football game on Saturday, Sept 18, 2021, in Athens. “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”

National media touts Georgia defense as college football’s top unit halfway through 2021 season

Simply put, the Georgia defense has been outstanding through the first six games of the college football season. The Bulldogs lead the country in yards per play allowed and points allowed per game.

It also isn’t led by a single individual. The Bulldogs’ leading tackler, Channing Tindall, technically isn’t a starter. Twelve different players have notched a sack and seven different players have grabbed an interception.

The total dominance by the group has earned universal praise and is a big reason the Bulldogs are the No. 1 team in the country.

“For the season, Georgia has allowed just two offensive touchdowns, has held every opponent but UAB (61 of 127 rushing yards came after it was down 49-0) under 100 yards on the ground, and has utterly stumped three ranked teams (Clemson, Arkansas and Auburn) to the tune of 13 total points,” ESPN’s David Hale said. “The best unit in college football is Georgia’s D.”

The Bulldogs are 6-0 to this point in the season and after a 34-10 win over Auburn, Georgia moved up to the No. 1 ranking.

The Bulldogs do benefit from Alabama losing, but many still think the Crimson Tide will see Georgia at some point during the 2021 season. That most likely occurs in the SEC championship game, though there’s still a chance they could meet in the College Football Playoff game.

“It’s still the two best teams in college football and a rematch of the 2017 title game: Alabama vs. Georgia,” ESPN’s Chris Low said on who he thinks will play in the national championship. “But this time, Kirby Smart’s Dawgs find a way to get it done because, unlike in recent years, good defense will trump good offense.”

Much like the 2019 LSU offense and the 2020 Alabama offense, this Georgia defense is a generationally great unit. So much so that there’s already been wonder about where the group stacks up among the all-time ranks. Alex Kirschner wrote for fivethrityeight.com that the Georgia defense is right up there with the greats.

“Repeatedly, and across different metrics, the picture is clear: 2011 Bama has been the gold standard, and 2021 Georgia is threatening that standing to an unprecedented extent,” Kirschner wrote.

The offense hasn’t been bad either. Despite serious injury issues at wide receiver and a rotation between JT Daniels and Stetson Bennett, the Bulldogs are still averaging 39.8 points per game this season.

That unit hasn’t been truly challenged yet this year, aside from the Clemson game. Georgia has trailed just once this year, in the first quarter of the Auburn game. Because of this, ESPN’s Bill Connelly does wonder what this offense will look like when it is required to be great.

“That Georgia has gotten this far without really needing a passing game is incredible, but we still don’t know what will happen when the Dawgs actually have to complete a pass in a close game,” Connelly said.

Half of Georgia’s six wins have come against ranked teams and it will get a chance to see another one on Saturday against Kentucky. The Wildcats are 6-0 and enter the game ranked as the No. 11 team in the country.

It will be another test for the Georgia defense, as the Wildcats have a bevy of talented playmakers.

“They have a really great supporting cast,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. “They have a quarterback that is really wise, really bright. A great system in the play-action boots they do. The quarterback is a really good athlete, and he throws the ball really well. He has weapons.”