In the second half of my Georgia Football 2008-2009 preseason analysis, I give you an in-depth look at the Georgia schedule, including a projected rundown of how I THINK the schedule will pan out for Georgia (that area of the article, of course, will be completely biased).
I'm sure you have all heard the saying, "With great power comes great responsibility." That phrase applies perfectly to the Georgia football team.
Georgia brings tons of talent to the table, along with a lot of people's number one votes. But talent and preseason rankings don't matter when you can't lay it all on the line every Saturday and win games.
Georgia will be tested week in and week out this season in one of the most daunting schedules they have ever faced.
Here's a quick rundown of the 12-game regular season.
Aug. 30 Georgia Southern
Sep. 6 Central Michigan
Sep. 13 @ South Carolina
Sep. 20 @ Arizona State
Sep. 27 Alabama
Oct. 11 Tennessee
Oct. 18 Vanderbilt
Oct. 25 @ LSU
Nov. 1 vs. Florida (Jacksonville, FL)
Nov. 8 @ Kentucky
Nov. 15 @ Auburn
Nov. 29 Georgia Tech
And now, a preview of each matchup.
Game 1: Georgia Southern
The Bulldogs will open their season against the Eagles of Georgia Southern on Aug. 30 in Athens. For those of you who don't live in Georgia or aren't familiar with football in the area, this game has somewhat of a rivalry feel to it. There are already tons of Facebook groups floating around my page reading "Go Eagles, beat the Dawgs!" or "Cut Down the Hedges! UGA vs GSU!"
Those GSU fans begin to drool whenever they see a powerhouse target like Georgia on their schedule, and don't think the Eagles will be going into Athens lacking confidence (especially after everyone saw Michigan fall to App State last year!). Also, let's not forget the Eagles are a perennial powerhouse in the FCS (formerly I-AA).
As much confidence as I have that Georgia will win, I wouldn't be suprised at all if GSU puts some points on the board. The last time these two teams played, Southern got off to an early 7-0 lead and almost fought back into the game late. The final score from that 2004 matchup was 48-28.
The Dawgs will win this one, but the Eagles are no pushovers.
Game 2: Central Michigan
This is another powerhouse vs. cupcake game that really intrigues me. Central Michigan, as much as we may sometimes forget what their nickname is (Chippewas?), aren't a pushover team either.
Central Michigan ran away with the MAC championship last year, and as much as the MAC may come across as the worst conference in college football, the Chippewas may just be a top 50 team.
The Chips are led by star quarterback Dan LeFevour, who accounted for 27 passing touchdowns and 19 rushing touchdowns last year (watch out Tebow!). LeFevour is more proven than our own Matt Stafford. Central Michigan has plenty of speed too and likes to run out of that spread offense we are starting to see so much of.
Once again, this is an early game that Georgia cannot ignore, and it may produce way more points than people think. I'll say Dawgs win here, but LeFevour and his receivers might be able to make that defense look silly at times.
Game 3: @ South Carolina
You are kidding yourself if you don't see this matchup as an annual rivalry game. Though South Carolina isn't "officially" one of Georgia's rivals, this game has produced some heated battles over the past few years. Losing to Spurrier last year at home definitely added some fuel to the rivalry fire as well.
Remember the 2002 game, where the deciding play was a point-blank interception by David Pollack? What about 2004? The Dawgs fell behind to the Gamecocks 16-0 at Columbia, setting up an awesome fourth-quarter touchdown pass from David Green to Reggie Brown to complete a 20-0 run and the 20-16 win.
This always has potential to be a great game, and this year should be no different. Don't be suprised if SC "blacks out" Williams-Brice Stadium (they have had black jerseys way longer than we have).
Game 4: @ Arizona State
Here's the "biggun"—Georgia vs Arizona State, Matt Stafford vs. Rudy Carpenter, and SEC vs. Pac-10. This game is regarded by many as one of the top inter-conference matchups of the season, and it will answer a lot of questions about Georgia's talent.
I strongly think that the result of this game will be an important factor towards the end of the year. A deciding win in Tempe could justify the toughness of the Bulldogs against the rest of the nation, and maybe cut them some slack if they were to trip up in the tougher part of the SEC schedule.
Beating Arizona State may leave some room for Georgia to lose vs. LSU, Florida, or Auburn and still sneak into the national title game.
But before you get ahead of yourself here, I can't wait to see the Georgia front seven take on the horrid Arizona State offensive line.
Game 5: Alabama
Even though Bama has fallen into a slump lately, Georgia cannot take this game lightly. Georgia nearly lost to Alabama last season, falling behind 23-20 in overtime vs. the Tide in Tuscaloosa before pulling out the win.
Alabama returns the experienced and always overlooked J.P. Wilson at quarterback, and an electric tailback in Terry Grant. However, Georgia is 3-0 vs. Alabama in the Mark Richt era and won in decided fashion against the Tide last time it was between the hedges.
A cherry on top of this matchup will be the potential of seeing A.J. Green for Georgia and Julio Jones of Alabama on the field at the same time. Jones and Green were regarded as the two best receivers in the country coming out of high school.
Game 6: Tennessee
Another game that definitely has that rivalry feel to it, despite it not being considered one.
Check that. This is a rivalry game, and I'm sure every Georgia fan would give a valued possession to see Georgia kick Tennessee's tail this year.
The Dawgs have suffered some painful losses to Tennessee the past two years. After taking a 17-0 lead against Tennessee at home in 2006, the Dawgs blew the lead and lost 51-33! Last year's 35-14 loss hurt just as much.
This will be a different Tennessee team however, led now by Jon Crompton and a new spread offense. Tennessee tailback Arian Foster is still a force that Georgia needs to contain if they are going to win. Get ready for a blackout on this date too!
Game 7: Vanderbilt
Our favorite team to schedule for homecoming weekend, the Vanderbilt Commodores, come to town to take on the Dawgs this year. However, after the past two seasons, Georgia probably won't be messing around preparing for the 'Dores.
The last time Vanderbilt came to town, homecoming was spoiled by a last-second field goal that defeated the Dawgs. It took some luck and a fantastic kicker to beat Vanderbilt in Nashville last season.
Vanderbilt returns both Chris Nickson and Mackenzi Adams at quarterback and has a solid defense.
If Georgia can play to their potential, which we all hope is the case, this game will be a walk-through. However, it's going to take the same amount of focus it takes to beat any other SEC team.
If Georgia is lulled to sleep on homecoming week, they could easily slip up in front of their hometown fans for the second time in a row (and it would hurt much more if it happened this year, with all of the championship implications.)
Game 8: @ LSU
Here is where things really get tough. Georgia's three-game SEC Powerhouse Tour (essentially) begins in Baton Rouge against the defending SEC/National Champs. A win down in Death Valley would do a lot for the championship hopeful Dawgs.
LSU isn't quite the same monster they were last year though. The Tigers will be without Matt Flynn, Ryan Perrilloux, Jacob Hester, and Glenn Dorsey. Starting for the Tigers will be inexperienced Jarrett Lee, who at this time last year probably didn't expect to ever play as a starter at LSU.
If the Tigers are still clicking and winning week in and week out, this game will have huge SEC and National implications, but the Tigers are in more ways than not rebuilding (tell that to Les Miles and Tiger nation though).
Game 9: vs. Florida (Jacksonville)
"The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party," or as we are told to call it, "The Florida-Georgia game...or Georgia-Florida game," has potential to be one of the biggest college football games in years.
If you think last year's game was great, I bet you can't wait to see this one. This game will likely decide the SEC East, and both teams could easily be ranked as high as No. 1 and No. 2 when it comes around.
Tim Tebow will probably tell you all about the Georgia defense, and it likely won't be a happy story. Georgia dropped Tim Tebow seven times in last year's game and made Mr. Heisman look like Mr. Hopeless.
Okay, that might be an overstatement, but every Georgia player and fan will tell you they are very proud to have watched the eventual Heisman trophy winner spend half of the game sprawled out on the Alltel Stadium turf. I've even seen bumper stickers reading, "Honk if you sacked Tebow!"
Oh, and as for the game, get there early. Kirk and Lee will be there!
Game 10: @ Auburn
Don't expect the Tigers to return any favors and "blackout" against the Dawgs this year (Orange or Blue-out maybe? No?), but do expect Jordan-Hare Stadium to be electric come kickoff. The last two times these bitter rivals met, the Dawgs handed it to the Tigers, winning 37-15 at the plains and 45-20 in the blackhole.
Georgia will be getting their first look at dual-threat quarterback Kodi Burns and the spread offense, but they are more than familiar with the stellar running back trio that consists of Ben Tate, Brad Lester, and Mario Fannin. If the Dawgs can keep those three guys in check, they could shake and rattle Burns all day.
If Georgia can complete the three-game sweep of LSU, Florida, and Auburn, they will likely be playing in the SEC title game, and will have a very realistic shot at the national title.
Game 11: @ Kentucky
Another road game for Georgia, this time in Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington, KY. Georgia doesn't have the best memories of that place, considering the stunning loss they suffered two years back to the Wildcats. Don't think Stafford has forgotten that dreadful day.
Knowshon Moreno doesn't remember it though, and he probably won't have his mind on much more than rushing for 200 yards against the Wildcats defense. Let's face it—after that brutal four-game stretch Georgia has to endure, a game vs. a rebuilding Kentucky team will be nice.
Kentucky does have some stars, including All-SEC-contending defensive lineman Jeremy Jarmon.
Georgia should win in Lexington, and a final conference win will be plenty important to them, especially in the traffic-packed SEC.
Game 12: Georgia Tech
Georgia will be getting a look at Georgia Tech's new triple option offense. This game has the potential to be a disaster for Georgia Tech.
Tech does return a solid defense, but the problem lies in the offense of the Yellow Jackets, where Paul Johnson's new scheme has been nothing but disaster so far in Atlanta. Tech has a very unproven receiving corps and hasn't had a consistent quarterback in a while. Tech will have to count on Jonathan Dwyer and the other tailbacks having an awesome game if they plan on winning.
Keep in mind, Tech hasn't beaten Georgia since 2000. Hopefully someone in Atlanta tells Paul Johnson how bad the Jackets want it.