Georgia football: win or loss Saturday, 2018 is a massive success

ATHENS, GA - SEPTEMBER 15: Tyler Simmons #87 of the Georgia Bulldogs celebrates after scoring a touchdown on a 56 yard carry against the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders on September 15, 2018 at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
ATHENS, GA - SEPTEMBER 15: Tyler Simmons #87 of the Georgia Bulldogs celebrates after scoring a touchdown on a 56 yard carry against the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders on September 15, 2018 at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images) /
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No. 4 Georgia football defends their SEC Championship this Saturday against no. 1 Alabama at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

Going into the 2018, everyone knew Georgia football was going to be good. Coming off a 2017 season that saw the Dawgs win the SEC Championship and finish painfully close to the National Championship, UGA was clearly trending in the right direction.

The doubts for 2018 were about how good Georgia could be. With eight first stringers gone on defense, and another four gone on offense, another championship season was a “maybe next year” type of goal. Realistically, with all of the new starters and contributors, the best Georgia fans could realistically hope for was a second-straight SEC Eastern Division Championship, and a spot in any New Year’s Six Bowl. Basically, 11-3 was satisfactory as long as the team defended the East and showed potential for 2019 and beyond.

Instead, Georgia blew past expectations. This team isn’t perfect. But considering all of the new faces, they’ve overachieved. 11-1 and ranked no. 4 after the regular season with a chance to make the College Football Playoffs would have been just a dream in August. But it’s a reality in December, and it’s a reality that the rest of the SEC will have to get used to.

A season like this shows that Georgia isn’t just heading in the right direction, but they’re way ahead of schedule. It might be too early for stories about next season, but it’s hard to not already be excited.

Terry Godwin and Lamont Gaillard are the only players leaving on offense. Both have been injured and their replacements came in and played masterfully. Jonathan Ledbetter, D’Andre Walker and Deandre Baker will be very hard to replace, but enough younger players have filled their positions at times this season that experience won’t be too big of an issue. And another top-3 recruiting class looks inevitable.

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A win this Saturday would be awesome. As would another two wins after that. But if a SEC East Championship and a Sugar Bowl birth is all this team accomplishes, that’s okay. The future is still bright for Georgia football, and after a season of over achieving, the future might be even brighter than we could have imagined earlier this year.