Starting the season ranked in the top 20 is familiar territory for the Georgia football team the past five years.
Being able to finish anywhere in the Associated Press poll on the other hand has proved elusive for the Bulldogs the last two seasons.
This year’s Bulldog squad begins at No. 15 in the preseason AP Top 25 poll released on Monday, according to voting by a panel of 61 reporters and broadcasters.
That’s the same ranking Georgia landed in the coaches’ preseason poll that came out earlier this month.
“Nobody called and asked us,” second-year coach Kirby Smart said when he was asked about Georgia’s ranking in the coaches’ poll in early August. “That’s the perception out there. The recruiting analysts do a great job of giving out stars and they rate things based on stars. That’s what people do today. It’s based on perception.”
The perception is Georgia is the team to beat in the SEC East thanks to a defense that lost only one starter, returns senior tailbacks Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. has a second-year starting quarterback in Jacob Eason and the nation’s No. 3 recruiting class.
The Bulldogs are the highest ranked SEC East team, two spots ahead of No. 17 Florida.
The top five in the poll: Alabama, Ohio State, Florida State, Southern California and Clemson.
Other SEC teams ranked: No. 12 Auburn, No. 13 LSU and No. 25 Tennessee.
Georgia began last season ranked No. 18 in the AP poll but finished out of the top 25 in an 8-5 season. A year earlier, it was No. 9 in the preseason, but was unranked to end the season despite a 10-3 record.
Georgia has ranked in the AP preseason top 15 five of the last six seasons.