Are Bulldog fans in for a dismal football season? That could be the case if preseason polls are accurate. Georgia will start the football season ranked No. 23 in the Associated Press preseason poll.

Bulldogs’ Lowest Preseason Rank Since 2001

It’s the Bulldogs’ lowest preseason position since they were unranked in coach Mark Richt’s first season in 2001. The AP poll, has the Bulldogs two spots lower than their No. 21 ranking in the USA Today coaches’ poll released earlier this month. Georgia is coming off an 8-5 season and is back in the AP poll for the first time since the September 27, poll of last season.

“I’m thankful that we’re ranked,” Richt told reporters at a press conference . “I think it’s important to be ranked. I hope we play well enough to move up. That’s the plan.”

Jackets Outrank Dawgs?

The Southeastern Conference has six teams ranked, the most of any conference. Four opponents on Georgia’s schedule are ranked: No. 4 Florida, No. 16 Georgia Tech, No. 17 Arkansas and No. 22 Auburn.

The Georgia Tech Yellowjackets outrank the Bulldogs. It’s the first time since 2001 that Georgia Tech begins the season ranked ahead of the Bulldogs in the preseason poll.

ACC Needs Non-Conference Wins

Though the ACC has the second-most teams in the poll, personality Lou Holtz said earlier this month that if the conference wants to truly be considered a power in college football, its teams must start winning some of the important non-conference games.

He noted Tech losing to Georgia and Iowa last season, as well as Florida State getting blasted by Florida, which has forced it further away from the SEC and more toward the Big East in the power structure of college football.

To truly move up college football’s pecking order, the ACC needs to have a team play for the national championship, something the SEC has had a stranglehold on for the past four years.

Bulldogs Watch List

The Bulldogs, with 17 starters returning, will play four teams that are ranked in the preseason: at home against No. 17 Arkansas (Sept. 18), against No. 4 Florida in Jacksonville (Oct. 30), at No. 22 Auburn (Nov. 13) and at home against Tech on Nov. 27. South Carolina (Sept. 11) also received votes.

Sophomore Orson Charles is working as Georgia’s starting tight end, but it’s junior Aron White who made the preseason watch list for the John Mackey Award for nation’s top tight end. Charles had 23 catches for 374 yards and three touchdowns last season. White had 13 catches for 198 yards and four touchdowns.

A.J. Green isn’t the only threat among the Georgia wide receivers for quaterback Aaron Murray to throw to in his first college season. According to the Athens Banner Herald, Murray is already talking up the possibilities in the red zone with the 6-foot-4 Green and Kris Durham and Marlon Brown, both 6-5.