An early look at the 2018 schedule

Given that we’ve constantly bitched about the lack of quality of Georgia’s 2018 home schedule, I don’t think any of us would try to argue that the Dawgs play one of the conference’s tougher slates this season.  Athlon, in fact, ranks Georgia’s schedule as the conference’s second-easiest.

13. Georgia

Non-Con: Austin Peay, Middle Tennessee, UMass, Georgia Tech

East Home: Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Florida (in Jacksonville, Fla.)

East Road: South Carolina, Missouri, Kentucky

Crossover: at LSU, Auburn

Georgia takes a big step backward with its non-conference slate in 2018. The only Power 5 opposition comes in the form of annual in-state rival Georgia Tech, and the Bulldogs are one of just two SEC teams that never have to leave the comfort of their home stadium for a non-conference game this season. The Dawgs get to host divisional games against Tennessee and Vanderbilt as well. The SEC East road matchups should prove to be slightly more difficult, particularly an early-season matchup against rival South Carolina in Columbia. The annual rivalry game in Jacksonville against Florida is intriguing, given the Dan Mullen factor. While Georgia’s most difficult tests in 2018 will come in crossover matchups against LSU (away) and Auburn (home).

Not sure I get the “given the Dan Mullen factor” reference there, but I think most would agree that South Carolina, LSU and Auburn are the key challenges on the schedule as we peer at it in mid-May.  I also think most would agree that on paper, the most challenging of those three challenges will be played between the hedges.  In short, this is a manageable — and I mean that in the literal sense, from Smart’s perspective — slate of games.

The Dawgs do play seven conference games in a row, so they will feel the SEC grind, although there is the usual nicely timed bye week before the Cocktail Party.  But so will their rivals, which, for the most part, don’t have the depth that Georgia enjoys.  And even those three challenges are at least somewhat cushioned, as South Carolina is sandwiched between two cupcake games, Vanderbilt at home precedes the road trip to Baton Rouge and Georgia will face UMass after laying it all out against Auburn.

What no one knows at this early date is whether a surprising program emerges during the season to make the schedule tougher in that regard.  On the other hand, nobody knows if there’s a program that proves to be a 2018 flop, either.  All in all, the schedule appears to shape up as something that gives Georgia an advantage this season.

66 Comments

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66 responses to “An early look at the 2018 schedule

  1. Yep, the 2018 schedule is a joke. There is no way around that. Dan Mullen factor? I think we all agree that Mullen will make UF a much better program than it has been the last few years. But Mullen will do that by bringing in better talent that compliments his system. He doesn’t have those players right now; especially at the QB position. So that comes down to having a plan that will stop a superior team and being a superb ‘on field’ coach. The Dawgs will not be facing Steve Spurrier calling the plays on the sidelines this fall or in the future. Last year MSU was 47th in scoring offense and 27th in scoring defense. I realize the quality of player will be better and that UF will be back to being a much more physical FB team, but again, this guy isn’t Spurrier who could potentially come in and simply out coach you on the field with an inferior or equal team. “Them days are over with”

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  2. Jack Burton

    You could’ve probably found a way to squeeze a player compensation angle into this post.

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  3. Macallanlover

    Yes, the home schedule is weak…nothing new there. Compared to the West, UGA’s conference schedule is middle of the pack due to the overall weakness of the East teams. But there is no question UGA has the toughest conference schedule among East teams. I would argue the LSU game looks to be our toughest challenge in the regular season, tough road environment and enough quality athletes.

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    • Tony Barnfart

      Tennessee plays Auburn and Alabama.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Sides

      I actually agree. The non-conference schedule is extremely weak but catching LSU and Auburn out of the west is about as tough as it gets.

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      • Mayor

        FU plays the usual SEC East schedule plus West teams LSU and Missy State. The Gators’ OOC teams are Charleston So., CO State and I-da-ho plus FSU. How hard does that schedule look?

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        • Otto

          I would rank the schedules as about on par with UGA. FSU should be better than GT, Colorado St is better than UGA OOC excluding GT, Miss St should be easier than Auburn, and both get LSU. So I put it as a push.

          Tenn. is rougher than UGA and UF, as they get Bama, Auburn, and a Neutral site with Weest Virginia. As posted in the past success for the Great Pumpkin and Pruitt in year 1 is a bowl so dies it really matter other than playing WVU rather than Charleston Southern costs UT a bowl game.

          We will soon know if Mullen was doing more with less or if he is mediocre. UF in theory is looking like 3rd in the East but 2nd would not surprise me which is more an absence of faith in Boom than a vote of confidence in Mullen.

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        • Comin' Down The Track

          I mean, they do have to play one of the teams that appeared in the National Championship Game, and we don’t have to do that. 😉

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      • Will

        Uhh I’m pretty sure missing Alabama is not as tough as it gets.

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  4. Tony Barnfart

    If Georgia didn’t always avoid playing Georgia like the rest of the East, they wouldn’t have it so easy.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Bright Idea

    That game at USCe terrifies me. Lose that and we’re 2 games behind right out of the gate no matter the rest of the schedule.

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    • Other than it being in Columbia, what’s so “terrifying” about it? We have better players across the board, a better coaching staff, and a winning streak. We go to Columbia and win by double digits in a game that isn’t as close as the score indicates.

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      • Bright Idea

        You must have never watched us play in Columbia under similar circumstances. I’ve been there too many times when we’ve had the better team and either lost or barely escaped. I know I know. Now we have Kirby.

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        • My one trip to Columbia was the cluster in 1996 where Donnan forgot he had Robert Edwards, so I’m very aware of our record there. The bottom line is that we should go over there expecting to kick their @$$3$ all over their dead cockroach of a stadium. Hell, we beat them in Columbia 2 years ago with what will arguably be Kirby’s worst team from a talent standpoint. The talent gap has only widened since then.

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      • 3rdandGrantham

        While the game never really was in doubt, SCU gave us all we could handle last year and really hung with us until late – unlike anyone else we played sans AU. As as you know, SCU at their place early in the year is a brutal game, as they think they are really good (players and fans alike), they haven’t lost key depth yet, and the temp is about 119 degrees. Not to mention all the SCU players from Georgia with playing with a chip on their shoulder because we didn’t recruit them. No doubt that place will be rocking, and while WB stadium is kinda dumpy in a crappy industrial area off-campus, that place admittedly gets very loud, in a cheesy kind of way with all that lame techno music piped in.

        Historically we’ve always struggled over there, even with some of Dooley’s and CMR’s best teams. In ’04 I believe we went in there as a monster favorite but found ourselves down something like 16-0 before crawling back for a close win. Simply put, SCU players get ‘up’ for playing us more than we do them, hence the tough battles over the past few decades.

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        • Russ

          It was a 3 TD win if Godwin doesn’t cough it up inside the 5. I agree that Sackerlina gave us a good game, and I expect the same in Columbia. But I also don’t think this team will panic. I expect a 10 point win at least.

          Liked by 1 person

        • I get it … I have a problem with the word “terrifying.” Terrifying is 1994 in The Swamp when we knew we had no chance. Terrifying is any number of games in the 1990s in Knoxville when we would go in there and wilt in front of 100,000 hillbillies and all of their Georgia blue chips. Terrifying is 2006 in Auburn with a freshman QB who people were beginning to wonder if he was going to turn out to be a bust. Terrifying is Death Valley (either one) on a Saturday night but especially in LSU with all that NFL talent and 90,000+ crazy Cajuns on the Bayou. Terrifying isn’t Williams-Brice Stadium, towels waving to Sandstorm, and that obnoxious rooster crowing.

          If we go in there to take care of business, we will beat them soundly. In other words, if the Process has truly taken, the days of blowing games in Columbia are over.

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          • 3rdandGrantham

            I’m with you there – absolutely no need to ever think any game against SCU as ‘terrifying.’ But I don’t think it will be the walk in the park, double digit win you and others are saying it will be. Sure, we could win 44-17 for all I know, but I’ll happily take a 1 point win right now.

            It’s funny, last year at this time people thought I was on drugs for saying UGA would win 12 games and challenge for a CFP spot. This year people are calling my a pessimistic rube for saying we might take a step back and not be quite as good this year as last.

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            • We’re 2 TDs better than USCe even on the road. The talent gap has become a gulf over the last 3 years. I’ll take Kirby over Boom any day of the week on the sideline.

              Could they beat us? Yep, if we play like we can just roll the ball out there to win or if we commit a bunch of turnovers. I don’t see Boom and his band of coaches coming up with a plan like Spurrier did in 2014 to beat us in a shootout. I certainly don’t see Kirby allowing Chaney not to give the ball to his best player on 1st and goal inside their 3 yard line.

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            • Sides

              I know I am the worst person here to agree with you but there are some unreasonable expectations for this season. Last years team lost 3 first round draft picks and a team leader like Nick Chubb. I saw the stat on this board that Michele and Chubb account for 6 of the top 10 seasons for a running back in Uga history (and their careers overlapped). You can’t just replace that kind of production (or leadership). They also lost I their #1 receiver to the draft.

              The defense will be fine this year but possibly give up a few more yards per play or big plays with the LB’s drafted and the secondary. There is no guarantee the offense will be anywhere near as good as last year. This is still good enough to win the east but you have people on this board saying that he 2019 team is comfortably 2-3 TD’s better than any team in the east on the road.

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            • Dolly Llama

              That one-point win you’d be happy with might be the EXACT thing we need at that early point in the season. A game that says “Whoa, don’t get cocky, boys. They showed up to play, too.” (And I didn’t realize the pun until I reread it.) A game where we can Humble Ourselves and take care of business in a businesslike way from there on out.

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    • 3rdandGrantham

      Agree, and have been saying the same for several months. SCU has an easy SEC slate this year, and if we were to lose over there, we’d have to win out while hoping they lose twice. Historically or otherwise we never play well over there; with that said, they lost as much as we did from last year’s team and we do have a decided talent edge.

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      • Uglydawg

        I’m worried about that game. I hope after it’s through, I can say ,
        “ee had it right”. But until then, I worry. They play with great emotion and that’s what feeds upsets.

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    • Erk's Forehead

      I’m confused at how Boom MF went from a laughingstock at FU to, in the minds of many UGA fans, a miracle worker with the Cocks. Columbia will always be limp.

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      • DoubleDawg1318

        Boom appears to have learned some lessons from his failure at UF (or perhaps the rest of the East is just that bad)

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      • 3rdandGrantham

        He has done a very good job coaching there after taking over for SOS, who basically let the program go to s*** in his final years. Just look at the game they gave us last year in Athens, for example. With that said, I’ve frankly been disappointed in his recruiting thus far, which has been very ho-hum.

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        • Thorn Dawg

          The game would have been a blowout if it were not for the dumb onside kick.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Stoopnagle

            If memory serves they did nothing with that field position except miss a FG?

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            • Russ

              We fumbled inside their 5. Hold on there and we win by 3 TDs.

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              • 3rdandGrantham

                Don’t resort to this – this is the famed ‘cock logic’ type stuff SCU fans are legendary for. You know, the “if we would have done this/that we would have won,” “the refs stole the game from us,” “That freak play cost us the game”, etc. The fact is they gave us a very tough game, and I expect nothing less this year at their place.

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                • The S&P+ adjusted scoring margin was 30 points. Georgia absolutely dominated that game in every sense of the word.

                  Per S&P+, South Carolina won 2 more games than expected based on their actual success rates. I’m tired of people getting lost in their record as an indicator of their actual quality. They were a 7-5 team last year that had pretty incredible turnover luck.

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                • Otto

                  Sometimes you make your own luck, especially with turn overs. With that said UGA should win again. They are likely the 2nd best team in the East and if they win, it is possible the season could end with a pair of teams at 1 loss in SEC play and SC holding the tie breaker.

                  The only thing that counts is the W, the 4th qtr drive showed Smart’s belief in that. I don’t care if it is by 1 or 30, granted I’d rather not be sitting in suspense. If UGA has healthy RBs, Smart likely grinds it out with long drives, UGA doesn’t cover the spread (or the spread UGA fans see as the actual spread) and UGA advances on to the next week.

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    • PTC DAWG

      I’ll take UGA and give you 7 right now for a $100.

      Liked by 1 person

    • ChiliDawg

      You guys are just trying to make my head explode, aren’t you?

      Like

  6. WarD Eagle

    That’s a pretty miserable schedule. Maybe USC, UT, UF, LSU, AU, and even GT have good years to build some excitement.

    Otherwise, UGA might be well-rested before the SECCG.

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    • Mayor

      Hey, we can’t help it if FU, UT and GT suck. 😉

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    • Uglydawg

      WDE, if you are snarking us for cocky over confidence, I can completely understand. Any of those teams could rise up an ambush us. A lot of the posters on GTP are unwittingly laying out rat poison. Things look great at UGA, but I can remember a lot of “the most Georgia thing ever” moments of the past. Some on here have even mentioned the second half of the Championship game against ‘Bama (belief we took the foot off the gas) in that regard.
      Question for you…out of pure curiosity…What did you think of that game ans specifically, did you think Georgia got screwed? (If you care to answer, thanks..if not, I understand).

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    • PTC DAWG

      I’ll be excited…you mind your own schedule. It’s not like AU has 2 Power 5 teams lined up for OOC. In fact, when is the last time AU did that?

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    • Dolly Llama

      Good to see you, Ward. Always good to see you and Bryant Denny both.

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  7. 3rdandGrantham

    I personally don’t mind the OOC slate because all I care about is getting to Atlanta and to another CFP birth. I also don’t have season tickets so I’m selfish in that regard, as I’m not all that concerned about a weak home slate and/or cupcake games where I either won’t attend or won’t be able to unload my tickets at cost.

    Ironically enough, most years on paper the schedule would be considered brutal, as we get two of the top three teams historically from the west, including a road date at LSU, to go along with the SEC east schedule. So in a sense we are being looked down upon due to LSU’s and UT’s ineptitude.

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    • Otto

      LSU is Jekyll and Hyde, you never know what you’ll get and Coach O has just made LSU even more Bi Polar. LSU at night they can beat anyone other than possibly Bama or get beat by a mid major. You just never know.

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  8. steve

    Two thoughts: Bright Idea writes ‘That game at USCe terrifies me.’ Agree. I saw on this very board a while back maybe the most important unknown variable in Ga’s game plan. How will a 34 yo Bryan McClendon perform as a first time OC? It would be so much safer if Ga had multiple games of play-calling trends to study.
    Second, Randy writes ‘I think we all agree that Mullen will make UF a much better program…’ Probably, but Mullen is a tool at his core and Scott Stricklin is definitely not Jeremy Foley. Coach Chuckles is the guy stuffed in the locker and his personal survival skills are beyond his genetic toolishness. The prick is disingenuous and likely sees even people trying to help him as a threat. I don’t think he does what everyone thinks he will do at Florida.But we’ll see.

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    • Otto

      Stricklin and Mullen seem to have a good relationship, the 2 took Miss St to heights the program had not witnessed before. As posted above we will see what Mullen can do on the big stage when absence of resources is not an excuse.

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  9. Will

    I think Auburn ends up closer to 6-6 than 12-0.

    As an out of town dawg fan, I don’t mind the weak schedule, as I am going to Baton Rouge and will go to SEC championship/playoffs/National Championship if we make it that far.

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  10. Bob

    Georgia’s schedule is worse than Vandy’s. Dawgs get to play Dores while they get to play Dawgs. And Notre Dame is light years better than the Trade School. Schedule is absurd for a Power 5 team. Thank goodness next year is better.

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  11. Spike

    Beat Florida.

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  12. AceDawg

    To keep this simple, this is a schedule we’d have playoff expectations for even if Mark Richt were still coach (even though we’d also simultaneously know there would be a painful loss or two nonetheless). With the talent on hand under Kirby, undefeated is more realistic than any other scenario despite a lot of new faces on defense needing to step up.

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    • Otto

      With Richt I’d expect an annoying loss to SC which would haunt UGA at the end of the year (2007….). Smart was hired to get past that.

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      • PTC DAWG

        I don’t think CMR had it in him to go undefeated in the SECE…we have moved past that….

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        • AceDawg

          I took note of Aaron Murray discussing what he saw differently between Richt and Smart last year. To summarize, Richt gave the team an overarching belief that they need to get ready for a tough, close game. Smart gives his team the expectation that UGA should be demolishing teams if it executes properly and gives full effort. There are other differences, but the confidence and expectations have been elevated at the HC position.

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          • Ace, your description is what Keep Chopping is all about. If you are tougher than the guy across from you, eventually the dam is going to break. Sometimes that happened quickly (see Miss State and Florida). Sometimes it took some time (see Oklahoma, Missouri and South Carolina). The common thread across all of them is that we were physically more ready for a 60 minute game.

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        • Otto

          UGA did last year, and I hope UGA has moved forward as a program.

          However, Muschamp had a 2 loss season in year 2. Shark hugger ran the East in year 1 at Florida. I see obvious differences be Smart and those 2 but I am not counting my chickens yet.

          Sustaining success and a successful year are not the same.

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  13. 209

    The only problem I see is SC early and missing two all-time great running backs. And great leaders. We will know much more a little later in the season, but SC early is a problem.

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