Does Georgia have to beat Alabama for this season to be a success?

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Kirby Smart and Georgia take on Alabama on Saturday.

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Is this season a success even with a loss?

After Georgia hammered Georgia Tech on Saturday, I asked a question to DawgNation Daily host Brandon Adams.

“Can you call Georgia’s 2018 season a success?”

The Bulldogs beat every team they were supposed to in 2018. Sure, you would’ve like to have seen a better performance against LSU, but Death Valley has tripped up a lot of good teams over the years. In all of Georgia’s victories, the Bulldogs won by at least 14 points. It took a while, but both quarterback Jake Fromm and running back D’Andre Swift are better players than they were a season ago.

Sure the defense isn’t as good as it was in 2017, but it was never going to easily replace Roquan Smith, Lorenzo Carter and Davin Bellamy. But Georgia and Kirby Smart have seen a number of young defenders such as Adam Anderson, Channing Tindall and Jordan Davis emerge over the course of the season.

A lot of things have gone right so far this season for the Bulldogs. Unlike some of the Mark Richt years, Georgia didn’t lose games it wasn’t supposed to lose. And while some may not want to accept it, Alabama has looked like a superior team so far this season. There’s a justifiable reason why they’re nearly a two-touchdown favorite. A loss to this Alabama team wouldn’t be the end of the world or a sign that Georgia needs change. Sometimes, you just get beat.

But the Georgia players aren’t resting on all that they’ve already accomplished this season. To hear senior defensive lineman Jonathan Ledbetter tell it, he expects Georgia to beat Alabama on Saturday, just like the Bulldogs have been expected to win every game to this point.

“I didn’t come back this year to not be here,” Ledbetter said on Monday. “This was expected of me. I worked for this. I think everybody on the team worked for this. I think anybody that came back and didn’t go on to the next level that didn’t have to [go on to the next level] really expected this to be another season. We have unfinished business and we intend to go ahead and handle that.”

Related: WATCH: Georgia’s Jonathan Ledbetter says the Bulldogs have ‘unfinished business’ with Alabama

Ultimately, for Georgia to reach its potential, it is going to have to beat Alabama. It is going to have to win a national championship at some point to validate everything Smart has done. But it might not come this season, and that’s alright. Georgia hasn’t had enough success yet to call an 11-1 season that seems destined for at worst a top-10 finish … a failure.

Georgia simply can’t have another season like 2017, where it exceeded just about all expectations. That bar is too high to clear now. But simply getting to this point, with an opportunity to win another SEC championship and get back into the College Football Playoff, has to in some small way be a success for 2018.

Tune in to Road to Atlanta on Tuesday!

As we gear up for this year’s SEC Championship game, DawgNation is pumping some more content for you to consume ahead of the matchup between the Bulldogs and Crimson Tide.

Everyday at 5 p.m. this week, except for Thursday in which the broadcast will start at 7 p.m., DawgNation presents “Road to Atlanta”, where each day we will take a look at the news and comments made by both Alabama and Georgia in the run up to the big game. The broadcasts can be seen on the DawgNation Facebook and Youtube pages, as DawgNation Daily host Brandon Adams and former Alabama offensive lineman Mike Johnson debate how each side is preparing for the game.

On Monday, the two discussed Ledbetter’s comments regarding Georgia having unfinished business this season. Johnson has a unique perspective on the matter, as his 2008 Alabama team lost to Florida in the SEC Championship game, only for the Crimson Tide to come back and beat Florida the next season. That 2009 Crimson Tide team went on to the national title in Nick Saban’s third season, something Kirby Smart is also looking to do this season.

Top Dawg in the NFL

Another Georgia running back took home the Top Dawg award this week, as Nick Chubb won the honor that goes to the former Bulldog that had the best week in the NFL. But before we get to Chubb’s big day, let’s take a look at how some of the former Georgia standouts fared this weekend:

Roquan Smith of the Chicago Bears had a huge day on Thanksgiving, as he finished with a game-high 11 tackles and a sack as the Bears stuffed the Detroit Lions 23-16. Matthew Stafford, the former No. 1 overall pick out of Georgia, completed 28 of his 36 pass attempts, but threw 2 interceptions to no touchdowns.

New York Giants linebacker Alec Ogletree, who took home the Top Dawg award last week, finished with 4 tackles and a sack. But it wasn’t enough as the Giants lost to the Philadelphia Eagles, 25-22.

Chubb’s former teammate, Sony Michel had a career day on Saturday, as he rushed for 133 yards and a touchdown. It’s the third time this season, Michel has topped the 100-yard mark. Thanks to Michel’s strong game, the Patriots were able to bounce back off a loss to Tennessee and come away with a 27-13 win over the New York Jets.

While Michel had a great game, Chubb’s day was just a little bit better. He finished the day with only 84 rushing yards, but he found the endzone twice. One of those came on an incredible 14-yard touchdown catch, that should certainly quiet a lot of concerns about Chubb’s ability as a pass catcher out of the backfield.

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