Nothing but optimism surrounds the University of Georgia and the Georgia Bulldogs football team entering the 2019 season. That’s most definitely not because you can now buy $25,000 beer at Sanford Stadium. Rather, it’s because UGA has a real shot at winning its first national championship since 1980.
Despite the jabs Kirby Smart and the Dawgs have taken from UF head coach Dan Mullen trolling their national title drought, it’s obvious that Florida fans (along with the rest of college football) are scared of Georgia. Jake Fromm is ready to lead the red and black back to the promise land. Watch the Dawgs annihilate opponents on CBS, ESPN or SEC Network every Saturday and you’ll see why.
The Bulldogs finished 11-3 last season and only lost to ranked teams (LSU, Alabama and Texas in the Sugar Bowl). Like 2018, this season will essentially boil down to a date with Alabama on Dec. 21 in Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game.
On tap for UGA this season is a slew of tough conference games, home games and a top-10 showdown against Notre Dame, which lost in the College Football Playoff semifinal to Clemson last year. As long as the 2019 Georgia football schedule isn’t too daunting during the regular season, the Bulldogs may find themselves playing in New Orleans’ Mercedes-Benz Superdome in January.
12. Murray State (Sept. 7)
The Racers finished 5-6 in the Ohio Valley Conference and may be more known as a stepping stone for coaches like Frank Beamer and Ron Zook. I’m not even sure former Racer and surefire NBA top-5 pick Ja Morant could save Murray State against Georgia when Sept. 7 rolls around.
11. Arkansas State (Sept. 14)
Arkansas State went 8-5 in the Sun Belt Conference last year and ended with a loss to Nevada in the Arizona Bowl. The Red Wolves were crushed by Alabama, 57-7, and Georgia will follow suit.
10. AT Vanderbilt (Aug. 31)
Georgia opens its season on the road in Nashville, marking its first opener against a conference opponent since beating South Carolina in the first week of the 1995 season.
Derek Mason’s crew put together a decent season that included wins over Ole Miss and Tennessee and some close losses to Florida, Kentucky and Notre Dame. Georgia demolished the Commodores, 41-13, and should do the same this season.
9. AT Georgia Tech (Nov. 30)
This storied rivalry is called “Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate” for a reason. The Bulldogs and Yellow Jackets have hated each other since they’re first encounter in 1893.
Georgia Tech went 7-6 last season and bested Miami, Louisville, Virginia and Virginia Tech. Believe it or not, GT has taken two of the last five matchups, both in Athens. But they haven’t beaten Georgia at home in Atlanta since 1999. Georgia Tech may need to score more than their 21 points in the UGA 45-21 win a year ago.
8. Missouri (Nov. 9)
Mizzou lost signal caller Drew Lock to the NFL but gained former Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant, so the Tigers could surprise people and win some football games if Barry Odom utilizes his newest weapon.
Still, Georgia should have no issue against a Tigers defense that ranked 62nd in the NCAA last year. Plus, the Bulldogs have won seven of eight against Missouri since they began playing annually in 2012.
7. AT Tennessee (Oct. 5)
Sure, Knoxville’s Rocky Top is a beast of a road venue to play in. But even with wins over Auburn and Kentucky, the Vols went just 5-7 last year under Jeremy Pruitt.
UGA has owned Tennessee in the 2000s, winning 13 of 19 matchups. Georgia faces them after a bye week on Oct. 5, so they should be well-rested and ready to replicate the 38-12 beatdown they put on them a season ago.
6. South Carolina (Oct. 12)
Will Muschamp played safety for the Bulldogs in the 1990s and has been, well, awful against his alma mater as head coach of the Gators and now the Gamecocks.
South Carolina probably doesn’t have enough firepower to outscore the Bulldogs, unless quarterback Jake Bentley has a career game. Expect UGA to win handily like last year’s 41-17 win in Columbia.
5. Kentucky (Oct. 19)
Kentucky’s breakout season did little to scare Georgia, which beat the Wildcats 34-17 last season in Lexington.
Mark Stoops’ squad lost a ton to the NFL Draft, including star edge rusher Josh Allen and running back Benny Snell Jr. The Bulldogs haven’t dropped a game to UK since 2009, and that shouldn’t change anytime soon.
4. Texas A&M (Nov. 23)
Could this be a magical season for the Aggies under second-year coach Jimbo Fisher? Some seem to think so if Kellen Mond is everything and more under center this year.
It’s been 10 years since these teams played each other in the Independence Bowl, and don’t be surprised if this one is a thriller despite marking the final of seven-straight conference games for Georgia.
3. AT Auburn (Nov. 16)
Much of the Tigers’ season is up in the air after losing quarterback Jarrett Stidham to the NFL Draft. They’ll probably have their offense figured out under freshman Bo Nix by the team these two teams meet, which could create problems for UGA.
Georgia has won five of their last six against Auburn, though. That includes a 27-10 win last year and a 28-7 drubbing in the SEC Championship Game two years ago.
2. Florida (Nov. 2)
Expect the unexpected at this highly anticipated rivalry game dubbed the “World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party” at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, Florida.
Dan Mullen’s Gators are off a 10-3 season and look stronger than they ever did under Jim McElwain after a 41-15 pounding of Michigan in the Peach Bowl, but they might still be a ways off from UGA judging from last year’s 36-17 win. Will the Bulldogs make it three-straight over the Gators or flop in a contest that may decide either team’s football season?
1. Notre Dame (Sept. 21)
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish lost just one game all of last season, and it came in the College Football Playoff semifinal to eventual national champion Clemson Tigers.
The story of Notre Dame last year was their defense — it held opponents to less than 20 points in eight of their 13 games — and will likely by its strong suit again. Quarterback Ian Book may not be the passer Fromm is, but expect a battle to the death from Brian Kelly’s team.