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Kirby Smart and Georgia have high expectations heading into 2019.

ESPN gives Georgia No. 3 ranking in early 2019 Top 25

With the 2018 season now in the books, some have already turned the page to 2019. ESPN’s Mark Schlabach released his “Way-Too-Early Top 25” for the 2019 season. And much like the Vegas oddsmakers, Schlabach is very high on Georgia.

Schlabach gave Georgia the No. 3 ranking, behind only Clemson and Alabama. Georgia also has the third best odds to win the national title next season. Clemson throttled Alabama 44-16 in Monday’s national title game.

Georgia ended the 2018 season ranked as the No. 7 team in the final AP Poll, tied with Florida. The Bulldogs ended the season with a 28-21 loss to Texas in the Sugar Bowl. But despite the season-ending loss, and departure of four draft eligible juniors as well as quarterback Justin Fields, Georgia still brings back a ton of talent.

“The Bulldogs were a no-show until it was too late in the Allstate Sugar Bowl, falling to Texas 28-21 on New Year’s Day,” Schlabach wrote. “Still, Georgia has competed nose-to-nose with Alabama the past two seasons. The Bulldogs started 11 freshmen or sophomores in 2018, and coach Kirby Smart is adding a second straight top-two recruiting class.

While Georgia does have to replace four of its top five pass catchers, the Bulldogs bring back quarterback Jake Fromm and running back D’Andre Swift and four starters from one of the country’s best offensive line. Georgia also signed 5-star wide receiver Dominick Blaylock as well.

Related: With Dominick Blaylock coming aboard, Georgia’s passing offense is going to be more than fine

The Bulldogs also have to replace leading pass rusher D’Andre Walker and cornerback Deandre Baker, who won the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation’s top defensive back in 2018. But Georgia did bring back safety J.R. Reed, and the front 7 is brimming with young talent like Channing Tindall, Brenton Cox and Adam Anderson. Georgia also landed the nation’s No. 1 recruit in the 2019 recruiting cycle in defensive Nolan Smith, who is already on campus.

As for the rest of Schlabach’s top 25, he has Clemson at No. 1, Alabama at No. 2, Ohio State at No. 4 and Notre Dame at No. 5. The Bulldogs take on the Irish next season, when Georgia hosts Notre Dame on Sep. 21. Georgia will also play No. 7 Florida, No. 9 Texas A&M, No. 22 Missouri and No. 23 Auburn.

LSU is the only other SEC team in the rankings. Below you can see the full list of rankings.

2019 ESPN’s Top 25 college football rankings

1. Clemson
2. Alabama
3. Georgia
4. Ohio State
5. Notre Dame
6. Oklahoma
7. Florida
8. Texas
9. Texas A&M
10. LSU
11. Michigan
12. Oregon
13. Washington State
14. UCF
15. Syracuse
16. Washington
17. Penn State
18. Utah
19. Northwestern
20. Iowa State
21. Wisconsin
22. Missouri
23. Auburn
24. Nebraska
25. Army

Georgia opens its 2019 schedule against Vanderbilt on Aug. 31.

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