Aug. 31, at Clemson, 8 p.m.
This isn’t the best season for Georgia to open against a top 10 opponent, particularly one as great on offense as Clemson. The defense is young, and the Bulldogs will miss strong safety Josh Harvey-Clemons (suspension). Their best chance might be to chew up clock with time-consuming drives, giving the defense ample rest. Then again, there’s always a chance Dabo Swinney just screws it up.
Sept. 7, vs. South Carolina, 4:30 p.m.
Some folks think Georgia will win the opener and lose this week. Not happening. (Clip and save, unless I’m wrong.) The Gamecocks have a great player in Jadeveon Clowney, but otherwise are overrated on defense and will be pedestrian on offense. They’re also not nearly as good a team on the road, and I don’t see them being able to keep pace with Georgia’s offense.
Sept. 21, vs. North Texas, TBA
After a bye, the Bulldogs get, well, a relative free pass. The North Texas “Mean Green” (and I so want a T-shirt) come to Athens for a paycheck and stories to tell their kids one day. Their Sun Belt tenure ended with eight consecutive losing seasons, so they figured it was time to move to Conference USA. Right.
Sept. 28, vs. LSU, TBA
Former Georgia quarterback Zach Mettenberger makes his return to Athens for the first time since groping his way out of it (pleading to sexual misconduct charges at a Remerton bar). He joked at SEC media days that he fully expects to get booed. What really matters now: He’s been average-to-bad for LSU and certainly hasn’t played up to Aaron Murray’s level. The Tigers will be very good on defense, not so much on offense. They’re also not nearly as dominant on the road.
Oct. 5, at Tennessee, TBA
Derek Dooley is out; Butch Jones (Central Michigan, Cincinnati) is in. Tennessee still isn’t any semblance of a threat in the SEC East, but this is a dangerous week for Georgia. The Dogs have face planted in Knoxville before, and there could be a natural tendency to let down after the difficult early schedule. The Volunteers also should be able to run the ball effectively this season with a big offensive line. Sounds familiar.
Oct. 12, vs. Missouri, TBA
It took one year after Missouri joined the SEC for Gary Pinkel to find himself on the hot (or at least warm) seat. The Tigers went 2-6 in the SEC. They last had a losing record in the Big 12 in 2004, also the last season they had failed to qualify for a bowl game. James Franklin (the quarterback) is a talent, but Mizzou’s defense may again scream: “Run me over.”
Oct. 19, at Vanderbilt, TBA
James Franklin won five conference games (Vandy’s most since 1935) in only his second season. Six and he’d be confused with Moses. Don’t be surprised if a relatively soft early schedule allows the Commodores to start 5-1, but then come Georgia, Texas A&M and Florida in succession. They still don’t have the talent to compete, and it doesn’t help that four players have been dismissed for a possible sex crime.
Nov. 2, vs. Florida (Jacksonville), 3:30 p.m.
Georgia has won two consecutive meetings. (Are you still standing?) The last time Georgia won three consecutive: 1987-89. Exit: Galen Hall. Enter: Steve Spurrier. Will Muschamp sincerely hopes nobody will be calling him “Galen” after this game. But they might be. The Gators should have a strong running game, but quarterback Jeff Driskel has a lot to prove. The defense is young, like Georgia.
Nov. 9, vs. Appalachian State, TBA
This could be a trap game for App State, as they’re caught looking ahead to Wofford. Kidding. This is a strategically placed walkover game for Georgia, following Florida week and before the season’s finishing kick against Auburn, Kentucky and Georgia Tech. Still, Mark Richt may feel the need to show his players highlights of App State’s 2007 upset of Michigan, just in case.
Nov. 16, at Auburn, TBA
Georgia has won six of the past seven meetings, the exception being 2010 when Cam Newton conquered the world (and also Nick Saban). Auburn has to feel good about its future (Gus Malzahn running the offense; Ellis Johnson running the defense; Rodney Garner on defense and recruiting). But there’s a mess to clean up, and the Tigers don’t have the players yet. Auburn won’t win more than two conference games (if that).
Nov. 23, vs. Kentucky, TBA
Credit new coach Mark Stoops for getting folks excited. Kentucky drew over 50,000 fans for its spring game and seems to have recruited well. But if he can get this program to, 1) play defense; 2) win, it will be a miracle. This should be another easy win for the Dogs if they just attack an undermanned team. Then again, there was that game in 2009 in Athens (Wildcats 34, Bulldogs 27) when Richt’s future seemed precarious.
Nov. 30, at Georgia Tech, TBA
Paul Johnson pulled the upset in Athens in his first season (2008), but Georgia has won the four meetings since. It’s tempting to pick the upset here because I believe the Jackets are going to be much better than people think and the Dogs’ run defense could be an issue. But I don’t foresee Tech’s defense stopping Georgia enough to win.
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