The Georgia Bulldogs kick off the 2018 season on September 1 against Austin Peay. Although the 2017 campaign finished with a crushing defeat to Alabama in the National Championship, it was still a highly successful season. The Dawgs captured their first SEC championship since 2005 and defeated Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl in one of the greatest football games of all time. Georgia has lost some key pieces to the NFL, such as running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel and linebacker Roquan Smith. However, the Dawgs bring back many players and possess a ton of talent to replace the departed. The schedule looks very favorable for the Dawgs, and it is not inconceivable for them to run the table.
Week 1: Austin Peay vs. Georgia
Georgia opens against the Austin Peay Governors, who finished 2017 with an 8-4 record, second in the Ohio Valley conference. They should not be a challenge for the Dawgs, as they are an FCS team and do not possess any where close to the same amount of talent as UGA. This is a good opener for Georgia, as this years team is relatively young so being able to open against an easier opponent is beneficial. Look for the Dawgs to win big, the passing and rushing game combined with a stout defense should carry Georgia to an easy win.
Prediction: 45-3 Georgia
Week 2: Georgia at South Carolina
Georgia’s first challenge comes early, traveling to Columbia to face an improved Gamecocks team. Will Muschamp has done a fantastic job turning the Cocks around, coaching them to an 9-4 record in 2017. South Carolina gave Georgia a game last year in Athens, only being down a touchdown at halftime and keeping it competitive throughout. Historically the Bulldogs have found some troubles at Williams-Brice Stadium. Though the Dawgs won their most recent meeting in Columbia, South Carolina has beat them two out of the last three times there. The Gamecocks bring back starting Quarterback Jake Bentley as well as other key pieces. Many see this as a trap game for Georgia, as young and relatively inexperienced team travels to a hostile environment against a fairly good team. Thought the Dawgs may get down early, I believe they will put it all together and pull one out on the road.
Prediction: 31-17 Georiga
Week 3: Middle Tennessee vs Georgia
After a challenge on the road, it will be good for the Dawgs to head home and regroup against a weaker opponent. Though the Blue Raiders made a bowl game last year, they still only won seven games and finished third in the Conference USA East division. Rick Stockstill has built a respectable program at Middle Tennessee, but they just are not good enough to give Georgia a challenge. Expect an easy win for the Bulldogs, the offense should get going early, and it does not seem likely that the Blue Raiders will be able to consistently put points on the board.
Prediction: 38-10 Georgia
Week 4: Georgia at Missouri
For their second conference game the Bulldogs hit the road again, this time traveling to Columbia, Missouri to take on the Tigers. Last year, Georgia defeated Mizzou 53-28, in an exciting and offense game. The Tigers prolific passer Drew Lock returns, who lead the SEC in passing yards last season by a considerable margin. Though they started slow at 1-5, Mizzou’s offense exploded in the second half of the season, and they ended the regular season on a six game winning streak. They hope to carry this momentum into this season and challenge the top dog in the SEC. This should be another shootout, as two of the best Quarterbacks in the conference face off. However, Georgia’s defense will be deciding the factor, as I believe it will be able to get stops when the Dawgs need them and propel them to another conference win.
Prediction: 49-31 Georgia
Week 5: Tennessee vs Georgia
On September 29 Georgia faces off against one of their oldest rivals, Tennessee. Georiga embarrassed the Vols 41-0 in their own stadium last season and hope for more of the same this year. Changes have been made in Rocky Top however, with Butch Jones out as head coach former Georgia and Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt looks to get the program back on track. This should still be a rebuilding year for Tennessee though, and unless they make major strides, they should not be able to keep up with a contender like Georgia. It should not be as bad as last year, but the Dawgs should still earn a relatively easy win.
Prediction: 31-14 Georgia
Week 6: Vanderbilt vs Georgia
The Bulldogs get another home game before heading out for a three game road trip. The Commodores finished the 2017 campaign just 5-7 after a promising 3-0 start. Georgia handled Vandy easily on the road last season 42-14. With the series heading back to Athens the Dawgs hope for another rout. The Bulldogs should hope to get this one over with quickly, with the most grueling stretch of their season coming up. With that in mind, expect Georgia to build a lead early and not look back.
Prediction: 38-17 Georgia
Stay tuned for our second half of the season predictions! Feel free to let us know your predictions as well!
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Phil Veasley | @_ATLPhil
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