Oct. 17, at Alabama (8 p.m.): Depending on how Clemson is looking, this could be for the No. 1 ranking. (Ohio State won’t have played yet.) On the one hand, Georgia prevailed in its last trip to Bryant-Denny Stadium. On the other, the Bulldogs and the Crimson Tide have met five times since, Bama going 5-0. In the past two meetings – one for the national title, the other for the SEC championship – the Tide prevailed without taking a snap while leading. No Nick Saban deputy has risen to topple the great man, but this is a year like no other. Why not pick a result that forlorn Georgia fans believe is no longer possible? Remember, Bama has a new quarterback. Remember, too, that Bama’s defense hasn’t been Bama-like for a while. Remember also that the Bulldogs are overdue for a spot of luck. Georgia 35, Alabama 30.
Oct. 24, at Kentucky: Georgia is 4-0 and (maybe) No. 1 in the land! It finally beat Bama! World domination awaits! Hold those horses. The next opponent is Kentucky – a state known for horses, get it? – in Lexington. With Florida in Jacksonville on the horizon. This could be the Trap Game to end all Trap Games. The Bulldogs wouldn’t be human if they didn’t thrash around for a while, and Kentucky under Mark Stoops is as good as Kentucky’s apt to get. The Wildcats are 18-8 over the past two seasons. They’re also 0-2 against Georgia, suggesting the inherent talent gap remains. Upset Alerts will be flying as the Bulldogs trail throughout, but in the end this will become a Georgia-Kentucky game, of which there’s only one winner. Georgia 27, Kentucky 24.
Nov. 7, Florida in Jacksonville (3:30 p.m.): After last year’s game, Dan Mullen said he’d been hoping his team would get a lead because the Bulldogs weren’t adept at playing from behind. His team never did, rendering the point moot. Still, it was clear Mullen, now in Year 3 as head ball coach, gives much thought to the Bulldogs, against whom he’s 1-4 as a head coach, the victory coming in 2010 with Mississippi State. Even Jim McElwain, gone from Florida after three years, beat Georgia twice. This game has become a crusade for Mullen’s Gators, same as beating Alabama was for Kirby Smart’s Bulldogs – and we’ve just seen that breakthrough occur, right? Here’s another. Gators get ahead and stay there. Gators seize the lead and tiebreaker in the SEC East. Florida 20, Georgia 16.
Nov. 14, at Missouri: We know by now that one loss won’t disqualify Georgia from College Football Playoff consideration, especially in a year where the big conferences are playing a varying number of games. Georgia must keep chopping wood, as it were. Nothing from here on appears un-choppable. Missouri has a new coach in Eliah Drinkwitz, imported from Appalachian State. He was 12-1 at Appy last season, his first as a head coach. En route, the Mountaineers beat South Carolina, which was more than Georgia did. UGA fans still recoil at the 2013 home loss to Mizzou, but that remains the only time the Tigers have beaten the Bulldogs. This is a take-out-the-frustration game. Georgia 42, Missouri 7.
Nov. 21, Mississippi State: Say hello to the always-intriguing Mike Leach. We know him for his love of pirates, “swing your sword,” having become a personal credo. We know him as the offensive coordinator who moved from Hal Mumme’s Air Raid at Kentucky to do big things at Texas Tech. He fell out with Craig James, the former ESPN broadcaster who alleged that Leach mistreated his son as a Red Raiders player. That led to Leach’s firing, which led to his lawsuit against Texas Tech. He alit at Washington State. In 2018 he led the Cougars to a No. 10 ranking in the final AP poll. Now he’s in Starkville, Miss., having already had to apologize for a tweet that included a photo of a noose. You’re getting all this info because I can think of nothing to say about this game. Georgia 42, Mississippi State 14.
Nov. 28, at South Carolina: Last year’s meeting might have been the strangest result of the 21st century. By game’s end, South Carolina was down to its No. 3 quarterback. Jake Fromm, who entered having thrown no interceptions, threw three, the first being a pick-6, the second coming in the first overtime. Rodrigo Blankenship, who entering having not missed a kick, missed a field-goal try in regulation and again in the second OT. This stunning loss – South Carolina finished the season 4-8 – kept Georgia’s claim as being CFP-worthy as a non-SEC-champ from gaining traction. Will Muschamp, who lasted four seasons at Florida, is entering Year 5 with Carolina. Given that the Gamecocks don’t face Clemson, this figures to be the former Bulldog’s last chance at a signature victory. Forget that. Georgia 30, South Carolina 3.
Dec. 5, Vanderbilt: Scoreboard-watching, anyone? Florida will be playing at Tennessee. If the Gators enter 8-1, a Vols win would propel Georgia into the SEC Championship game. The guess, however, is that Florida won’t lose a regular-season game, thereby blocking the Bulldogs from a fourth consecutive trip to Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The guess also is that Florida will lose to Alabama in Atlanta, handing the CFP committee an agonizing choice. Of three one-loss SEC teams, which two make the field of four? Surely Alabama because it’s the SEC champ, but will Florida’s victory over Georgia hold sway? Or will Georgia’s win over Bama? Whoa, Nellie. Georgia 51, Vanderbilt 0.