Does thirteenth in the nation sound reasonable for a team destined to win nine games and play in a bowl? It's tough to say, because translating wins and losses into an appropriate poll ranking (or vice versa) is no less a judgment call than anything else. Basically, I think your judgment of the preseason ranking -- whether you see it as too high, too low, or basically accurate -- kind of depends on where you think Richt has the program positioned at the moment. If you're not convinced that Georgia is strong enough to weather the losses of Matt Stafford and Knowshon Moreno without paying for it to at least some degree in the standings -- consider that #13 is just three spots below where last year's national-title-touted team finished the season -- you might think the preseason ranking is a bit high. If, on the other hand, you think Richt has built the program into one that's strong and consistent enough to where even the "floor" for wins is relatively high, #13 probably seems fair, maybe even a tad low to those of you who with a more optimistic world view than mine.
Personally, I think #13 is about where we ought to be: We're having to replace Stafford and Moreno, which is not a small task by any measure, but at the same time our new guys will be playing behind one of the best and most experienced offensive lines in the country, while on defense, we may have underachieved considerably last year but we bring back nearly everybody of importance, and by all reports they've had their wake-up call and are charging into 2009 committed to making up for last season's disappointments. Flip "offense" and "defense" in that description and what you've got is strikingly similar to how people would've described our squad around this time in 2007 -- a team that was also ranked #13 in the preseason (and, as we all remember, went on to considerably bigger and better things).
So with all that in mind, I've got two questions for y'all to continue the process of analyzing fan expectations for this season. First:
And second, a question that's similar to the first one, but not quite the same:
Go ahead and vote, and feel free to explain your responses in further detail in the comments. Next up: which specific games y'all actually expect to win in 2009.