Georgia’s 2020 schedule released: Auburn, Tennessee, Alabama up early

Georgia quarterback Jamie Newman (9), Georgia quarterback Carson Beck (15) during the Bulldogs’ practice in Athens, Ga., on Mon., Aug. 17, 2020. (Photo by Chamberlain Smith)

Credit: Chamberlain Smith

Credit: Chamberlain Smith

The Georgia Bulldogs entered into the pandemic redo already knowing they had one of the SEC’s more challenging schedules, which included Alabama and Auburn from the West. After the SEC revealed the entirety of the new 10-game slate Monday night, the Bulldogs’ path to a fourth consecutive conference championship game is clear.

After revealing earlier in the day that the Bulldogs would open the season on the road against Arkansas on Sept. 26, Georgia learned that its home opener will be against Auburn on Oct. 3, it’s road game against the No. 3-ranked Crimson Tide was pushed to Week 4, it will still get an open date before playing Florida in Jacksonville on Nov. 7 and the Bulldogs will wrap up the regular season with a home game against Vanderbilt on Dec. 5.

That’s assuming the season gets started and that there are no stoppages of play because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The new conference-only schedule was revealed in week-by-week fashion in a televised special on the SEC Network. On July 31, the SEC established Sept. 26 as the new kickoff for its 2020 football season to allow time to monitor the coronavirus pandemic after students returned to campuses. UGA students returned this week for face-to-face classes that are scheduled to begin Friday.

“We continue to take it a step at a time,” SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said during a brief appearance on the SEC Network after the schedules were unveiled week-by-week. “We’ve got to continue to work through medical issues and support a healthy environment. Those are all important steps. Today’s was just a little more public than the others.”

All and all, it appears to be a manageable lineup for the Bulldogs, who opened preseason camp Monday. While new schedule includes three teams ranked in the USA Today coaches’ preseason Top 25, Georgia’s four opponents after the Florida game are all considered to be in the bottom half of their respective divisions.

A possible “trap game” for Georgia will be its Nov. 14 trip to Missouri. That comes the week after the Bulldogs’ annual matchup against the Gators in Jacksonville. The Tigers are under the direction of first-year coach Eliah Drinkwitz, who comes from Appalachian State and is considered one of college football’s top minds.

Otherwise, Georgia will close against Missouri, Mississippi State, South Carolina and Vanderbilt the last month of the season. Then the Bulldogs will have a week off before the Dec. 19 SEC Championship game, if there are no postponements during the season.

The schedule confirms that the Georgia-Florida game will remain in Jacksonville, where it has been played every year since 1933, except in 1994 and 1995 when the stadium was being renovated to accommodate the Jacksonville Jaguars. The game will be played a week later than originally scheduled, meaning a lot of UGA fans will have to modify condominium reservations on the Georgia coast. It also will be played sometime other than the Halloween weekend for the first time since 1991.

Originally, Georgia was set to play Alabama as both teams’ SEC opener in the third week of the season. Instead, the Bulldogs will travel to Tuscaloosa on Oct. 17, or Week 4 of the new setup. That will represent Georgia’s first trip to Tuscaloosa since 2007, when quarterback Matthew Stafford’s touchdown pass in overtime staked the Bulldogs to a 26-23 win in overtime.

The new slate includes three new opposing coaches for the Bulldogs: Arkansas’ Sam Pittman, who was Kirby Smart’s offensive line coach the last four years, Mississippi State’s Mike Leach and Drinkwitz.

Georgia’s Oct. 3 home opener against Auburn will be the earliest the Bulldogs have played Auburn in a year since 1892, when they played Feb. 20. The teams were set to meet Oct. 10 after traditionally playing mostly in November since the 1920s.

In other key matchups, Alabama-Auburn won’t play in the final game of the season as has been the case for decades. They’ll play instead on Thanksgiving weekend (Nov. 28) in Tuscaloosa. Other marquee games include Alabama at LSU on Nov. 14 and Tennessee at Auburn on Nov. 21.

The 2020 SEC football season is comprised of a 10-game conference-only schedule and the SEC championship will be played Dec. 19 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, rescheduled from the original date of Dec. 5. The schedule includes one mid-season open date for each school and an open date Dec. 12 for all schools.

GEORGIA SCHEDULE

Sept. 26 at Arkansas

Oct. 3 vs. Auburn

Oct. 10 vs. Tennessee

Oct. 17 at Alabama

Oct. 24 at Kentucky

Oct. 31 Open

Nov. 7 vs. Florida (Jacksonville)

Nov. 14 at Missouri

Nov. 21 vs. Mississippi State

Nov. 28 at South Carolina

Dec. 5 vs. Vanderbilt

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