What history says about Georgia Bulldogs' three-peat chances

Kirby Smart and Georgia are trying to become college football's first three-peat champ since 1936. ESPN

Every new college football season is its own unique journey with its own personality. As we head into 2023, we have plenty of intriguing storylines to follow: another incredible Michigan-Ohio State race in the Big Ten, the amazing set of quarterbacks in the Pac-12, the close game festival that is the Big 12 title race, the tantalizing potential of Joe Milton III, potentially dynamite races in the AAC and Sun Belt and so on. We'll fall in love with out-of-nowhere stars, we'll watch the hot seat claim countless coaches and odds are, we'll enjoy ourselves immensely.

The biggest storyline in any given season, however, is the national title race. That might not begin in earnest until, or unless, the Georgia Bulldogs lose.

Kirby Smart's two-time defending national champions begin this season No. 1 in the preseason polls and SP+. With an easier than usual schedule, the Bulldogs don't have many major hurdles to clear and boast the clearest College Football Playoff path. They recruit as well as almost anyone -- so well that Smart has barely felt the need to dip into the transfer portal in recent years -- and, again: They're the two-time defending champs. They've won 17 games in a row and 33 of their past 34, and they avenged their lone loss -- to Alabama in the 2021 SEC championship -- barely a month later in the CFP title game. UGA is college football's sure thing and enters 2023 as the obvious title favorite.

One problem, though: College football teams don't win three national titles in a row. Since the Minnesota Golden Gophers pulled it off from 1934 to 1936, at the very start of the poll era, no one in nearly nine decades has three-peated -- not Nick Saban's or Bear Bryant's Alabama Crimson Tide, not Pete Carroll's USC Trojans, not Barry Switzer's Oklahoma Sooners, not any of the 13 teams that have tried.

That doesn't mean it's impossible, obviously. But as Georgia embarks on something historical, it's worth looking back at why the last 13 failed. Most remained excellent, so what tripped them up? What were the common themes?