College football top 25 countdown: No. 5 Georgia

After falling just five yards short of playing in the Bowl Championship Series title game last season, the Bulldogs face a tough schedule as they try to make a run at a championship.

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Mark Richt

Georgia Coach Mark Richt is setting his sights on winning the BCS national championship. (Jason Getz / MCT / August 1, 2013)

Georgia is slotted at No. 5 because that's how many yards the Bulldogs fell short last year of playing (and we presume beating) Notre Dame for the national title.


That's less than three fathoms, if you can fathom that.

The game-ending call will be second-guessed for years. Georgia, down 32-28, was at Alabama's eight with the clocking clicking inside 15 seconds.

With no timeouts left, roughly 99.8% of us sitting at the Georgia Dome that day for the Southeastern Conference championship game expected Georgia to rush to the line and spike the ball.

Instead the Bulldogs bumbled like bees back into position and snapped a play, hoping to catch Alabama players on their heels.

The pass from quarterback Aaron Murray, though, an intended fade route for Malcolm Mitchell in the right corner of the end zone, was tipped and misdirected.

Chris Conley instinctively caught the ball but was short of the goal line.

The clock expired and Alabama ran like crooks out of a jewelry store.

Georgia Coach Mark Richt watched the edited game tape immediately afterward and then the full TV version later in the summer.

He wanted to get an emotional sense from a fan's perspective.

The outcome, though, never changed.

"It was certainly gut-wrenching to see again the way it finished," Richt said at SEC media days in July.

Murray was motivated enough to forgo the NFL draft and return for his senior season.

"I came back to win a championship," he said. "I want the SEC championship; I want the national championship."

Getting back in position to win again may not be as easy this time.

The Bulldogs, in fact, could be out of the race before September ends.

Georgia opens against two top-10 opponents: at Clemson on Aug. 31 and home the next week against South Carolina.

"It forced us to have a great off-season," Murray said. "We've just got to be in midseason form Week 1 and 2 of the season."

If the Bulldogs survive that, they'll still have to deal with Louisiana State on Sept. 28 and Florida on Nov. 2.

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