The 2020 college football season came to an end on Monday night with Alabama pummeling Ohio State. Shortly after the win, the Crimson Tide topped the final AP Poll of the season, as Alabama breezed to a 13-0 record against an 11-game SEC slate and playoff games against Notre Dame and Ohio State.
The Georgia Bulldogs finished ranked No. 7 in the final poll, thanks in part to their 24-21 victory over Cincinnati in the Peach Bowl. The Bulldogs won their final four games of the 2020 season, bouncing back in a big way once JT Daniels entered the starting lineup.
With Daniels and a host of contributions back for the 2021 team, Georgia is expected to start even higher based upon their placement in a number of early top-25 polls for the 2021 season.
ESPN’s Mark Schlabach placed the Bulldogs at No. 4, with Daniels and the returning pieces on offense being a big reason for the lofty early-season ranking.
“Georgia’s offense made significant strides with USC transfer JT Daniels playing quarterback in the last four games,” Schlabach wrote. “And he should be even better with a full offseason in coordinator Todd Monken’s offense. He completed 67% of his passes for 1,231 yards with 10 touchdowns and two picks in his four-game audition.”
Daniels had the option to turn pro following the 2020 season but he elected to return for another year, along with James Cook, Kearis Jackson, Justin Shaffer, Jordan Davis, Devonte Wyatt and Adam Anderson.
Georgia will open the season against Schlabach’s No. 1 team in the Clemson Tigers. The game is set for Sept. 4 and will be played in Charlotte.
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The Athletic’s Stewart Mandel also has Georgia pegged to start the season in the No. 4 spot, behind Alabama, Oklahoma and Clemson.
“The front seven will again be stacked, led by DT Jordan Davis and LBs Nakobe Dean and Adam Anderson,” Mandel wrote. “The secondary will be a question.”
Georgia does have a number of key players to replace, specifically on the defensive side of the ball. Richard LeCounte, Mark Webb, Eric Stokes, Tyson Campbell, DJ Daniel and Azeez Ojulari are all off to the NFL. On Monday, projected starter Tyrique Stevenson entered the transfer portal and seems likely headed to Miami.
Related: UGA secondary becomes even bigger concern with Tyrique Stevenson in transfer portal
The secondary and offensive line are the biggest question marks for Georgia entering next season. The Bulldogs are also still waiting on a decision from running back Zamir White regarding his future. He led the Bulldogs in rushing this season while also scoring 11 touchdowns in 10 games.
247Sports also had the Bulldogs at No. 4, touting the improvement of the offense and Georgia’s recruiting success in recent seasons.
Among some of the consensus other SEC teams to crack the various polls were Alabama, Texas A&M and Florida. Schlabach also had Ole Miss and LSU, Mandel had Ole Miss in the rankings while 247Sports had LSU.