Sept. 1 vs. Austin Peay at Sanford Stadium. The Bulldogs have never played the Governors (an FCS team). Sept. 8 at South Carolina. The Bulldogs and Gamecocks could decide the SEC East in the season’s second week, even if only because it could determine a tiebreaker. Sept. 15 vs. Middle Tennessee at Sanford Stadium. The schools have played once, with Georgia winning 29-10 in 2003. Sept. 22 at Missouri. The Bulldogs have a three-game win streak against the Tigers and have lost once to them. Sept. 29 vs. Te

Georgia, South Carolina rivalry heating up in 2018

It’s a tale as old as time, a storyline that repeats itself at the start of every football season. 

Georgia versus South Carolina has been a staple in the SEC East since the Gamecocks began conference play in 1992, and though the Bulldogs lead the overall series 50-18-2, there always is a suspicion that things will tip in Carolina’s favor.

The tradition continues entering the 2018 season, as many believe the Gamecocks are a dark horse in the East with a chance to dethrone Georgia long before the playoff committee releases the first rankings. 

Veteran players such as J.R. Reed and Terry Godwin are familiar with the intensity Carolina brings to the meeting every year. While they were quick to assure the Bulldogs aren’t overlooking their season opener against Austin Peay, both recognized the significance of the early matchup and the implications it could have on the rest of the season. 

“We’ll see what we’re made of early on this season, just like our second game last year at Notre Dame,” Reed said when asked which game he considered the biggest test of the season. “It will be a tone-setting game.” 

Under Kirby Smart, Georgia is 2-0 against Will Muschamp, with the most recent victory coming in Athens last season, 24-10. If the Dogs maintain the momentum they displayed in 2017, there’s a good chance Smart will stay undefeated against his former teammate. But Godwin made it clear that UGA expects a challenge from a “great” South Carolina team, and Reed wants “all the smoke on the field,” no matter how much trash talk is tossed around before the teams take the field. 

With 53 days left until the week two face-off, there’s plenty of time for both teams to prepare for the heat they’ll stir in Columbia.

Kirby Paul Smart was born Dec. 23, 1975 in Montgomery, Alabama. Smart graduated from Bainbridge (Ga.) High School. His HS coach was his dad, Sonny Smart. Smart played football at Georgia from 1995-98 and graduated with an undergraduate business degree in 1998. He earned a master's degree from Florida State in 2003. Smart was a first-team All-SEC choice as a senior at Georgia in 1998. A safety, Smart intercepted 13 passes while playing for the Bulldogs. Smart intercepted six passes as a junior and five as

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.