ATHENS — Georgia football fans can finally get a read on the season with the SEC’s release of the 2020 schedule.
Once again it doesn’t appear the league office did the Bulldogs any favors, this time doling out a top-heavy schedule that includes arguably the most physical four-game stretch in the league.
Opening against SEC West bottom dweller Arkansas is about the only positive to be had, as it gives Kirby Smart and Todd Monken a chance to sort out the newfangled offense.
The Bulldogs better make the most of their trip to Fayetteville, however, because things get rough after that.
Here are four things that jump out:
Georgia’s great depth is important, but it won’t be as much of a factor in November as it has been with the ridiculously front-loaded schedule the SEC office dished out.
The Bulldogs will be challenged to get their offense in sync quickly, because their hopes of a fourth-straight SEC East title will be decided by the second week of November.
Georgia plays Auburn (Oct. 3), Tennessee (Oct. 10), Alabama (Oct. 17) and Kentucky (Oct. 24) in successive weeks before a bye week, and then the Bulldogs play in Florida.
The Bulldogs’ annual rivalry with Auburn is always a physical battle, regardless of score or margin.
But in playing Tennessee, Alabama and Kentucky in Weeks 3, 4 and 5, Georgia will be matching up with the top three-ranked offensive lines in the SEC, according to ESPN analyst and Joe Moore Award (best team offensive line) chairman Cole Cubelic.
Georgia will have a chance to prove it has the best defensive line in the nation this season, and having a deep rotation among the front seven will be more important than ever during that brutal stretch.
The Bulldogs will go six weeks between home games this season, in part because of the UGA administration’s desire to continue playing a designated home game 340 miles away in Jacksonville.
The contract runs through 2023, but this would have been a season to seek an exemption in the interest of player safety with studies suggesting travel increases risk of COVID-19 transmission.
Georgia plays Tennessee at home on Oct. 10 and doesn’t return to Sanford Stadium for a home game until Nov. 21 against Mississippi State.
Georgia will need to be road warriors in the middle of the season and avoid the COVID-19 bug on consecutive trips out of town to hotels in Tuscaloosa, Lexington, Jacksonville and Columbia, Mo., to have a healthy close to the season.
Out of sight
A closing stretch of Missouri, Mississippi State, South Carolina and Vanderbilt might seem appealing, but only if Georgia is in control of the SEC East Division by then.
The league’s schedule pits Florida and Tennessee in the final regular season of the game, one of the more popular rivalries in the league historically because of its East Division implications.
The last time Tennessee and Florida played at the end of the regular season was 2001, on account of 9-11, with the Vols derailing the Gators’ national championship hopes in Steve Spurrier’s final home game at The Swamp.
Georgia, meanwhile, closes in the shadows against a lowly Vanderbilt program that figures to be completely dilapidated by that juncture. The Commodores have already had top players opt out, and the season hasn’t even started.
Georgia football preseason
— Georgia Football (@GeorgiaFootball) August 18, 2020