It seems like every year, without fail, at least a hundred different preseason college football rankings show up during these lazy summer months.

And for the most part, they’re not even worth a second look.

But one analyst that has built a strong following among the Bulldog faithful is Phil Steele, who ranked Georgia as the ninth-best football team in the country and second-best in the all-powerful Southeastern Conference (behind Alabama, naturally) on Monday.

Perhaps more importantly, Steele also predicted the Bulldogs to once again capture an SEC East title in 2013.

Behind Georgia, Steele has listed Texas A&M (No. 13), South Carolina (No. 14), Louisiana State (No. 17), Florida (No. 18) and Ole Miss (No. 28) as the other SEC teams to make his touted Top 40 rankings.

That puts Georgia ahead of some talented teams in the SEC alone, not even considering other schools such as Stanford, Clemson and Oklahoma. Suffice it to say, Steele believes in the Bulldogs.

And he isn’t the only one high on Georgia, either.

R.J. Bell and the fine folks at pregame.com have released the opening lines on all of Georgia’s games for the 2013 season. And wouldn’t you know it: Mark Richt’s team is favored in every single one.

Georgia is favored by 3 1/2-points for the season opener at Clemson. The Bulldogs are also 6-point home favorites versus LSU and 4-point favorites over Florida in Jacksonville, with both lines being the most in the team’s favor in over 13 years.

Bell’s site also gives Georgia 30-to-1 odds that it can capture a BCS National Championship this season, which ties for eighth-best on the list (the Crimson Tide also top this list with ridiculous 3-to-1 odds).

Coming from almost any other sources, these predictions would hardly be worthy of any attention. But the fact that both come from two very respected men in Bell and Steele means that, at the very least, some smart folks are on board with the Bulldogs this year.

Does any of this come to fruition? Georgia has had seasons under Richt when it has exceeded expectations (see: 2007) and years when it has fallen flat (see: preseason No. 1 in 2008).

The lingering issue here is that nobody knows exactly what Georgia will get on the field with its defense. You don't see many teams lose nine starters from one unit and then considered a preseason top 10 by writers.

Part of that, of course, speaks to how much offensive talent the Bulldogs possess. Aaron Murray, Todd Gurley, Keith Marshall and the entire offensive line return to make up what should be an explosive bunch, maybe even best in the SEC.

The other half is that many are optimistic about the team's young defensive talents, guys like Jordan Jenkins, Tray Matthews and Ray Drew (if he ever puts it all together).

Of course with that talent also comes inexperience, and I still find myself skeptical of how well Georgia actually plays early on in the season, especially against Clemson without one Josh Harvey-Clemons.

Still, the combination of math (Bell) and intuition (Steele) seems to be working in the Bulldogs' favor in these early, early previews.

Fans just hope both are still this optimistic come next October.

– Alec Shirkey is a senior from Dunwoody majoring in English and Finance

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