ATHENS, GA – SEPTEMBER 2: Quarterback Jake Fromm #11 of the Georgia Bulldogs prior to their game against the Appalachian State Mountaineers at Sanford Stadium on September 2, 2017 in Athens, Georgia. The Georgia Bulldogs defeated the Appalachian State Mountaineers 31-10. (Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images)

The Georgia Bulldogs vaulted themselves into the national championship picture by demolishing Mississippi State 31-3.

Let’s be honest: few experts gave the Dawgs – or anyone else in the SEC East – much of a chance to earn a spot in the College Football Playoff. After all, the conventional wisdom in the media is that the West division is way stronger than the East. Barring a complete upset, the West Division champion should have no trouble winning the SEC championship game and advancing to the College Football Playoff.

Georgia’s decisive victory might cause these pundits to change their thinking. Remember, Mississippi State absolutely crushed LSU last weekend. Considering that the Bayou Bengals entered that contest ranked in the top 12, many felt that Dan Mullen’s squad was capable of challenging Alabama for SEC West supremacy.

While that may still be true – there’s a lot of football remaining – it’s clear that Georgia has enough talent to win the SEC this season. Playing against a Mississippi State offense that came into the contest ranked ninth in scoring, the Dawg D turned in arguably its best performance of the year. The UGA secondary had a great outing, picking off two passes and limiting Mississippi State quarterbacks to 103 yards passing and a paltry 3.1 yards per attempt. Although the Dawgs allowed 173 yards rushing, it’s worth noting that a lot of those yards came in the fourth quarter after the game was already well out of reach.

The Georgia offense was every bit as impressive, dominating this contest from the moment it took the field. The Dawgs scored on their first two drives – highlighted by a 59-yard touchdown pass on the first play from scrimmage – and never allowed Mississippi State to get into this contest. Todd Grantham’s defense had absolutely no answers for Nick Chubb and D’Andre Swift, who combined to rush for 140 yards on 25 carries.

Of course, the real story on offense was the outstanding play of quarterback Jacob Fromm. He connected on his first eight throws (including the aforementioned touchdown pass) and finished the evening with 201 yards passing on just nine completions. His precision passing will make it very hard to take him out of the lineup when Jacob Eason is back at 100%.

So, what does this victory mean for the Dawgs in the grand scheme of things?

Simply put: it proved that Kirby Smart’s squad is a contender in both the SEC and College Football Playoff races. After all, Georgia whipped a Mississippi State team that will likely finish near the top of the SEC West this season. While the topic of whether the West division is really that much better than the East is still up for debate, the fact of the matter is that the Dawgs showed the entire nation they’re capable of beating anybody in the country. Although there are still plenty of tough games on the schedule, it’s hard not to like Georgia’s chances going forward.

About Terry P. Johnson

Terry Johnson is the Associate Editor for The Student Section. He is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the National Football Foundation.