No. 1 Georgia among three unbeaten SEC teams

ATHENS – Entering Week 6 of the college 2023 football season, there are three undefeated SEC teams remaining. Two of them play on Saturday in Sanford Stadium when the No. 1-ranked Georgia Bulldogs play host to No. 10 Kentucky (7 p.m., ESPN).
The other one is Missouri, which will play both Georgia and Kentucky eventually. First, the Tigers (5-0, 1-0 SEC) will have to get by LSU, which visits Columbia this Saturday.
All three undefeateds are SEC Eastern Division members. Entering the midway point of the regular season this Saturday, every West team has at least one loss so far. In the last year of divisions, Texas A&M (4-1, 2-0) remains unscathed in conference play. The Aggies play host to Alabama Saturday in College Station.
Nobody is surprised to see Georgia among the unbeatens. The two-time, defending national champions haven’t lost a regular-season game since falling to Florida in Jacksonville on Nov. 7, 2020. But the Bulldogs (5-0, 2-0) have had two close calls already.
Georgia fell behind by double digits in both its SEC games. The Bulldogs rallied in the second half to beat Auburn 27-20 on the road and defeat South Carolina 24-14 in Sanford Stadium on Sept. 16.
But their average margin of victory in SEC play so far – 8.5 points – indicates a much less dominant team than the last seasons. Georgia’s average margin of victory in conference play in 2022 was 25.5 points and 31.9 in 2021.
The national press and coaches clearly are losing some confidence in the Bulldogs. Georgia lost two No. 1 votes in the coaches’ poll and 20 in the AP poll this week.
Even coach Kirby Smart seems unsure what to make of his team.
“I don’t know how good of a team we’ve got,” he said after the Auburn game. “I really don’t. I don’t sit here and proclaim that we’ve got some unbelievable team. But I do think that we’ve got a team that believes in each other.”
Things will shake out more in the coming weeks. Here’s a look at the SEC’s three undefeated teams:
GEORGIA BULLDOGS
Record: 5-0, 2-0 SEC
Current rank: No. 1 AP, No. 1 coaches
Last game: Won at Auburn, 27-20
Next game: At home versus No. 22 Kentucky
Highest-ranked opponent so far: N/A
Best wins: South Carolina (24-14), at Auburn (27-20)
Best tests remaining: Saturday vs. No. 20 Kentucky, 11/4 vs. No. 21 Missouri, 11/11 vs. No. 16 Ole Miss, 11/18 @ No. 22 Tenneessee
Outlook: The Bulldogs look more vulnerable than at any time over the last three seasons. Injuries have impacted their early-season play and that has improved. But Georgia clearly is not as dominant on defense and, besides tight end Brock Bowers and safety Malaki Starks, lacks many truly exceptional players.
KENTUCKY WILDCATS
Record: 5-0, 2-0 SEC
Current rank: No. 20 AP, No. 20 coaches
Last game: Defeated No. 22 Florida 33-14 in Lexington
Next game: On road at No. 1 Georgia
Highest-ranked opponent so far: No. 22 Florida
Best wins: No. 22 Florida (33-14), at Vanderbilt (45-28)
Best tests remaining: Saturday at No. 1 Georgia, 10/14 vs. No. 21 Missouri, 10/28 vs. No. 22 Tennessee, 11/11 vs. No. 11 Alabama
Outlook: The Wildcats have the SEC’s best running game and the SEC’s best back in Ray Davis. The Vanderbilt transfer leads the league with 594 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns, 8 on the ground. After Georgia, their toughest games all are at home on Kroger Field.
MISSOURI TIGERS
Record: 5-0, 1-0 SEC
Current rank: No. 21 AP, No. 22 coaches
Last game: Defeated Vanderbilt 38-21 in Nashville
Next game: Saturday vs. No. 23 LSU (3-2, 2-1)
Highest-ranked opponent so far: No. 15 Kansas State
Best wins: Defeated No. 15K-State 30-27 on a 60-yard field as time expired.
Best tests remaining: 10/14 at Kentucky, 11/4 at Georgia, 11/11 vs. Tennessee
Outlook: The Tigers look like the biggest pretender of the group. But veteran quarterback Brady Cook is playing well and moving receiver Luther Burden into the slot is paying dividends so far as the sophomore has scored a touchdown in every game. Defense is somewhat suspect.

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