Aiming for its first SEC title since 2005, Georgia has a lot working in its favor.

Todd Grantham’s defense returns 12 of its top 13 tacklers, including All-American OLBr Jarvis Jones. Junior QB Aaron Murray threw for 3,149 yards and 35 touchdowns last season, and has room for improvement. And the Bulldogs don’t have to play the three SEC West powerhouses, while South Carolina has to host Arkansas and go to Death Valley.

The Bulldogs enter the season ranked No. 6 nationally by the AP, the USA Today coaches poll and

"You definitely prefer this, but it can actually be a little worse," Murray told reporters of the high expectations. "It can be harmful when people start patting you on the back because you can start to get a little lazy."

Here are opposing scenarios that could unfold for Georgia:

Best-case scenario: With Branden Smith cleared to play and Malcolm Mitchell moving to corner, the Bulldogs’ secondary should be fine against Missouri in a tough SEC opener Sept. 8. The Oct. 6 visit to South Carolina is the next challenge. The Bulldogs have never lost three straight to South Carolina, and they won’t now. Their front seven, anchored by John Jenkins and featuring playmakers like Jones and Cornelius Washington, bottles up Marcus Lattimore and all but ends the SEC East race. The Bulldogs could stumble against Florida or at Auburn, but it won’t cost them the division. Then they show how much they learned during last year’s SEC title game loss. With Alabama’s defense playing coverage to contain Murray, freshman Todd Gurley breaks a couple decisive long runs and gives coach Mark Richt his third conference crown. Georgia loses a shootout with USC in the BCS championship game, finishing 12-2.

Worst-case scenario: The early season stumbles that have plagued the Bulldogs resurface in Missouri, where excitement is at an all-time high with the Tigers joining the SEC. Murray, who threw six of his 14 interceptions in Georgia’s four losses last year, throws a backbreaking pick with the Bulldogs driving for the game-winning score. At South Carolina, Lattimore cements his Heisman candidacy with another dominant performance vs. Georgia -- he's run for 358 yards and three TDs in two games against the Bulldogs. Georgia finds it isn’t so easy to replace SEC Freshman of the Year Isaiah Crowell as the running game flounders. The disheartened Bulldogs fall to Florida and Auburn to finish 8-4, meaning another trip to the Capital One or Outback bowl.

For more up-to-the-minute news and analysis from SEC bloggers Daniel Lewis and Larry Hartstein, follow @CBSSportsSEC.