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Top 25 countdown

August 27, 2008|Chris Dufresne

The Times' Chris Dufresne unveils his preseason college football top 25, one day (and team) at a time.

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No. 2 Georgia

The shuttle-bus driver in New Orleans who torched Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan after last year's Sugar Bowl -- "He thinks he's all that, but he's not all that" -- gathered compelling evidence after watching Georgia's defense toss Brennan around like a surfer on the North Shore.

Georgia finished the season 11-2, ranked No. 2 in the Associated Press poll, and set itself up to be top Dawgs in 2008.

Georgia opens the season as No. 1 in the Associated Press media and the USA Today coaches' polls but wasn't ready to be No. 1 in the Rankman 25.

The Bulldogs, frankly, botched the off-season, making more headlines for off-field transgressions and leaving doubt they are ready to handle the heightened expectations.

So we dinged the dogs.

It also didn't help that starting left tackle Trinton Sturdivant, the man responsible for protecting quarterback Matthew Stafford's blindside, was lost to a season-ending knee injury during a scrimmage Aug. 11.

So we'll just have to see.

Georgia, of course, has the talent to win it all.

Stafford has already been projected in some mock polls as the No. 1 pick in next year's NFL draft. Knowshon Moreno, a sophomore running back, reminds some of Herschel Walker (which one?), who led Georgia to the national title in 1980.

What's not to like is the schedule, which, with few exceptions, is brutal and relentless and even features a rare nonconference expedition to Arizona State on Sept. 20.

It marks the school's first regular-season road game against a Pacific 10 Conference school since a 1960 trip to USC.

Georgia doesn't get out much. According to MapGameDay.com, the Bulldogs have traveled only 358 total miles for nonconference games since 1998.

There's also a four-week stretch in the Southeastern Conference you wouldn't wish on your worst Nick Saban -- Louisiana State, Florida, at Kentucky, at Auburn -- but no one said winning the national title was going to be as easy as BYU in 1984.

After home games against Georgia Southern and Central Michigan, the real season starts Sept. 13 at South Carolina, coached by Steve Spurrier, who owned Georgia when he coached at Florida and handed the Bulldogs one of their two 2007 defeats.

And if Georgia comes up short again in the BCS? Well, university President Michael Adams can always dust off that eight-team playoff plan.

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The countdown so far:

25. Notre Dame; 24. California; 23. Fresno State; 22. Florida State; 21. Rutgers; 20. Illinois; 19. Penn State; 18. Oregon; 17. Tennessee; 16. Arizona State; 15. Texas Tech; 14. Brigham Young; 13. Wisconsin; 12. Kansas; 11. Auburn; 10. Texas.; 9. West Virginia; 8. Clemson; 7. Louisiana State; 6. Missouri; 5. Florida; 4. Oklahoma; 3. USC; 2. Georgia.

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chris.dufresne@latimes.com

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