Georgia players, coaches, and fans celebrate after the 2011 football schedule was announced.
This is an overview. Predictions come later. Home games in CAPS.
9/3: vs. Boise State (Atlanta)
9/10: SOUTH CAROLINA
9/17: COASTAL CAROLINA
9/24: at Ole Miss
The Bulldogs have one of the tougher schedule openings in the conference. They get to start with a "neutral site" game against Boise State in Atlanta, which should closely resemble a home game. I believe that I'm contractually obligated to mention that UGA throttled BSU 48-13 in Athens in 2005, but the two programs are in entirely different situations now. Next comes the pivotal game against South Carolina, with the winner earning the crucial tiebreaker in the East standings. The team finally gets a breather against the Chanticleers before taking a road trip to the projected West doormat Ole Miss. The first two games may be rough, but the degree of difficult slides a bit over the next two games.
10/1: MISSISSIPPI STATE
10/8: at Tennessee
10/15 at Vanderbilt
10/29: vs. Florida (Jacksonville)
Georgia's October is not nearly as bad as most SEC squads' Octobers. The Bulldogs complete their Magnolia State tour with a home game against Mississippi State to begin the month, with the Red and Black looking to avenge last year's loss. They then sweep through the Volunteer State teams, with trips to Knoxville and Nashville. UT is rebuilding still and Vandy is starting over under a new coach, so those games should be manageable. Also, UGA beat those teams by a combined 84-14 a season ago. For the first time in years, Georgia gets to match Florida's bye before the Cocktail Party. That should give plenty of time for Mike Bobo to plot against the defense of Will Muschamp, whose Auburn defenses he torched in 2006-07.
11/5: NEW MEXICO STATE
11/26: at Georgia Tech
November isn't too bad for Georgia either. NMSU provides a late season snack before wrapping up the conference season. Auburn comes to call the next week, and Georgia fared pretty well against the champs last year before wearing down at the end. Next comes Kentucky, who won the last game between the two in Athens 34-27. For some reason, UGA hasn't been able to make UK an automatic win like Florida and Tennessee have. The schedule ends as it always does with Georgia Tech. Georgia lost a shootout in Paul Johnson's first season on the Flats, but Georgia has won the past two against the option master.
The opener against Boise State will be a tough test, and it will undoubtedly be blown way out of proportion by the press. If Georgia loses, then it could be the beginning of Mark Richt's death spiral. If Georgia wins, it shows that the Bulldogs are back. It might suddenly make them the East favorite and (depending on the pundit's flair for hyperbole) a darkhorse national title contender. Pay no attention. It will be an entertaining contest, but the South Carolina game the following week means a heck of a lot more. Georgia catches a huge break by missing Alabama, LSU, and Arkansas, who are the top three teams in the West division and top-11 teams in the polls according to the current preseason consensus. BSU and Georgia Tech aren't the easiest non-conference foes, but with South Carolina at home and a bye before facing Florida, Georgia has the most favorable conference schedule of 2011.