January 7, 2013, the Georgia Bulldogs are national champions. That's the headline Bulldog football fans are hoping for.
The No. 5 Bulldogs are undefeated through their first five games of the season for the first time in six years and have their highest ranking since 2008. Possibilities of a national championship in January are vibrant as comparisons are being made between the 2012 squad and Georgia's 1980 national championship team. Although this year's motto is 'our team, our time, no regrets,' this comparison isn’t as crazy as it may sound.
In terms of scheduling, there is one difference between the two teams.
Georgia only played 12 games in 1980, whereas this year's Bulldogs will play at least 13 games, assuming a postseason berth.
However, the number of games played isn't what's most striking – it’s that both the 1980 national championship team and the 2012 team had similar results against common opponents.
Georgia beat Tennessee 16-15 in 1980. This year, Georgia won 51-44. Both games were one-possession games. Against Vanderbilt, both Georgia teams beat the Commodores by 40-plus points, in blowouts of 41-0 in 1980 and 48-3 two weeks ago.
Both squads have had victories against nonconference opponents. This year’s Buffalo and Florida Atlantic were 1980’s Texas A&M and Texas Christian University.
Besides both teams also playing South Carolina in the middle part of their schedules, and not in the Southeastern Conference opener, there aren’t many other results from the first five games that are similar.
But there are some similarities in the two teams' rosters.
Both teams feature star freshman running backs – Herschel Walker in 1980, and the two-headed Georgia combination of Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, also known as "Gurshall."
Walker gained a total of 1,616 yards on 274 carries. Gurley is on pace to better Herschel’s freshman total by 11 yards if he were to have the same amount of carries through the regular season. Gurley is also on pace to break Walker's rushing touchdowns.
Today’s team and the national title bunch also had a foursome of receivers who totaled over 150 yards. Today’s Michael Bennett, Rantavious Wooten, Marlon Brown and Tavarres King are projected to better the 1980 seasons of Lindsay Scott, Amp Arnold, Norris Brown and Chuck Jones. In spite of Bennett’s absence the remainder of this season, his current yardage would put him third amongst the 1980 receivers.
The 1980 defensive squad had averaged two interceptions each game and allowed just 11.4 points per game. The points against average was ninth-best in the country in 1980. This year’s defense is averaging 22 points allowed per contest and is averaging one interception.
Both the 1980 team and the 2012 squad so far are made up of high-powered offenses and above-average defenses. Whether or not that amounts to a 2012 Georgia national championship is anyone's guess, but their matchup against No. 6 South Carolina Saturday will at least provide a hint of what's to come.