The Georgia forecast: Bulldogs to go 9-3, finish second in SEC East

A tight-lipped Kirby Smart. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

For the 25th consecutive year (possible exaggeration, albeit slight), Georgia has been picked to win the SEC East. Often I’ve made the same pick. I’m not making it this time.

The belief here is that the Bulldogs will go 9-3 and lose the division title due to a flop – stop me if you’ve heard this one – in Jacksonville. There’s part of me that thinks that Georgia could and maybe will have a manpower advantage in every game it plays. There’s another part that will note that having the division’s best talent has never stopped this program from messing up before.

Kirby Smart’s first year was a raging dud – much worse than Mark Richt’s Year 1, if we’re still keeping that scorecard. Richt’s 2001 Bulldogs won at Tennessee. Smart’s 2016 team lost at home to Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Georgia Tech. For the record, I picked Georgia to go 11-1 in Richt’s Year 2 and then win the SEC, which it did. (Blind squirrel. Acorn.) I feel less optimistic about this head coach’s Year 2, largely because I feel no great confidence in this head coach. On that cheery note …

Appalachian State, Sept. 2: With UGA eyes on the Irish in Week 2, the Mountaineers have a chance to shock Ye Olde World in Week 1. The Bulldogs will hear much from their coaches about App State’s near-miss opener in Knoxville last year, but it remains to be seen if these players will stick to their task. If they do, that’ll be a good sign. I’m guessing their minds will wander enough that this will remain a game through three quarters. Georgia 31, App State 21.

At Notre Dame, Sept. 9: Either Brian Kelly remembers how to coach or Brian Kelly gets fired — those are the only possible outcomes for this Irish season. I’m not sure Kelly coaching at peak capacity will be enough against Georgia. Remember that part about having the better players in every game? Here’s where it starts to show. Georgia 27, Notre Dame 20.

Samford, Sept. 16: This could get interesting, assuming Georgia is still riding its post-Irish high. Chris Hatcher coaches the other Bulldogs, and he’s from the Hal Mumme/Air Raid coaching tree. Heck, Hatcher played quarterback at Valdosta State – he would later be head coach there – under Mumme. Against Mississippi State (yet another brand of Bulldogs), Samford scored 41 points last season. Lost by 15, but still. Georgia 45, Samford 27.

Mississippi State, Sept. 23: Speaking of those maroon Bulldogs, they’re led by Nick Fitzgerald, a quarterback from Richmond Hill, Ga. He mightn’t be Dak Prescott, but he might be the second-best returning quarterback in the high and mighty SEC. Oh, and Todd Grantham, once (but not lately) the toast of Clarke County, Ga.? He’s the State defensive coordinator. Pretty good game here. Georgia 27, State 23.

At Tennessee, Sept. 30: I’m on record as having sworn off all hope for Butch Jones as a championship coach. Indeed, I’d be surprised if he’s Tennessee’s coach in 2018. But this game reminds me of Georgia’s visit to Knoxville in 2007. That year the Vols were 2-2 and the locals were howling for Phillip Fulmer to be given the gate. They beat maybe Richt’s best team by three touchdowns. The Orange will again be 2-2, having lost to Georgia Tech and Florida. Consider this a dead cat bounce. Champions of Life 20, Georgia 17.

At Vanderbilt, Oct. 7: Grrr. The Bulldogs return to the Volunteer State in a foul mood. Georgia 41, Vandy 3.

Missouri, Oct. 14: Drew Lock’s an OK quarterback. On Oct. 12, 2013, Mizzou stunned Georgia in Athens. Regarding this nondescript game, that’s all I’ve got. Georgia 31, Missouri 13.

Florida in Jacksonville, Oct. 28: For like the thousandth time in Cocktail Party annals, Georgia should win – but it won’t. Hated Gators 24, bumfuzzled Bulldogs 20.

South Carolina, Nov. 4: I might have mentioned this a time or two, but here it is again. Will. Muschamp. Is. Not. A. Head. Coach. Georgia 30, South Carolina 6.

At Auburn, Nov. 11: Here’s one of those dastardly facts that drive Georgia fans crazy. The Bulldogs have taken nine of the past 11 installments in the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry. The two times Auburn won, it played for national titles. Not saying these Tigers are a playoff team, but the guess is that they’ll win this one. Auburn 29, Georgia 28.

Kentucky, Nov. 18: This should be Mark Stoops’ best team. Being a UK alum, I’ve heard it all before. Georgia 35, Kentucky 17.

At Georgia Tech, Nov. 25: It took some doing to blow last year’s game against the Jackets, but those Bulldogs managed. Missteps aside, this will be a much better Georgia team, and maybe by season’s end we’ll be calling Smart a pretty good coach. Maybe, I said. Georgia 30, Tech 23.

Reader Comments 0

27 comments
USA&UK;&CA; JOBS.
USA&UK;&CA; JOBS.

Do you utilize a pay-pal... because if you have you can generate an additional 400 /week in your pay-check just working at home 4 hours every day.. see*--*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*www.Best.USA&UK&CA.Jobs.com


DawginLex
DawginLex

All you know it all's calling for Kirby's head after one year should be reminder of another coach:


Gave up 70 points in a bowl game

Lost to his in state arch rival 5 times in a row

Constantly called underachievers. Program had a nickname to support it.


Won the national title last year!!

_Lesley
_Lesley

════════════════════★☆★●

öür bëst frïënd's möthër-ïn-läw mäkës 85 ëvërÿ höür ön thë ïntërnët. shë häs bëën ünëmplöÿëd för 11 mönths... läst mönth hër päÿ-ċhëċk wäs 21249 wörkïnġ fröm hömë för 2 höürs për däÿ, löök ät thïs päġë

          ░A░M░A░Z░I░N░G░ ░J░O░B░S░

¦¦¦¦F¦O¦L¦L¦O¦W¦¦M¦E¦¦¦¦¦http://ow.ly/VFam30eqm5y

▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬

Mutley
Mutley

Kirby must teach Georgia and their fans that winning and being CHAMPION is not a bad thing.

TideDawg
TideDawg

OH:IO you're always quoting yesteryear's results. How did all those championships help OSU against Clemson? By the way, all but one of those National Championships, OSU was voted number one and didn't have to beat anybody to win them. Further, how many National Championships has your current team won? I think at this point OSU is tied with Georgia and 250+ teams for NCs won with their current team. As long as you're 0-0 you're a contender. OSU with a walk through schedule could end up being the cupcake team in the CFPs.... AGAIN!!

FlatTire
FlatTire

If we lose to Tennessee then Im afraid we have made a bad hire.  And if we lose to Florida again then this program isn't taking a step forward and we are back to the Donnan and Richt days of 9-10 wins against no one again.

sportzfan
sportzfan

"Will. Muschamp. Is. Not. A. Head. Coach." So between S. Carolina and Georgia last year, who did best coaching job based on talent on each team Mr Bradley? 

maconexpress
maconexpress

He has the talent to go 12-0 but not too sure he has the right coaching staff to go 12-0. We will see.

Mulk
Mulk

Smart will be fine - plays in a weak league (no QB's, no coaches)

TideDawg
TideDawg

Hey man! You better put a saddle on that fence. It's going to be rough straddling the fence this year. Who's going to win the East?.........Vanderbilt or South Carolina. 9-3 at Ga. will get Kirby one more year....then! Next year the Bulldogs will have 4 recruiting classes of Kirbians. If that doesn't produce a championship, what's next? They hire Paul Johnson and everybody in the state of Ga. will be unhappy.

mgunter
mgunter

I don't hav a clue about how they will do this year. We'll all have a pretty good idea after th first two games. I really wish you folk would lay off Coach Richt. All those negative comments just further drive a wedge in th fan base. We have a new coach now..... we need to get behind him and appreciate all those good men he's following.

dawg fan
dawg fan

@mgunter  If the AJC will stop shoving Richt down our throats then I'll stop commenting on him.  Simple as that.  

Buckhead Vol
Buckhead Vol

I can't see my poor TN team beating UGA this year or in the next 4 to 5 years.  UGA has talent, fan base and a better coach.  I hope I am wrong because I have to live with the losses, but TN is a joke and will be for the forseeable future.  If Smart cannot beat TN this year, UGA should hire somebody else.  


DawgNole
DawgNole

@Buckhead Vol

Sure hope you're right, but you trailed by double digits late in last year's game and still won. And that one was in Athens.

BDK1
BDK1

I can't see the Dawgs losing all 3 of those SEC games. They should slip by UT based on talent as well as the fact that Dobbs is no longer on the UT roster. I will, however, admit that UGA always loses games that they shouldn't. That is why I wouldn't be surprised to see them fall at ND. 9-3 sounds about right though. Let's not simply base our expectations based on last year. Kirby is recruiting much better than we are used to. Let's see what some of these new players can do. Give Kirby a chance. This is only his second year as HC for Pete's sake!

Mulk
Mulk

@BDK1 UGAG has always been in the top 10 in recruiting. That is what "you are used to". See Spurrier's comments. 


Besides, Smart had a chance last year because he had better talent than the teams that beat him. Do you think that Vandy had better talent? Tech? Tennessee? No way. Are you saying that Smart needs even more disparity in talent before he can beat teams like that?


Smart is doing what all incoming coaches do - besmirching the previous regime. The cupboard is bare. Blah, blah. Can't blame him, but you don't have to but into it, either. Just saying.

DawginLex
DawginLex

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!


And you get paid to do this

Covfefe22
Covfefe22

 Kirby Smart’s first year was a raging dud – much worse than Mark Richt’s Year 1, if we’re still keeping that scorecard.


Um, might wanna check that scorecard again.  Richt lost 4 games in his first year, culminating with a Music City Bowl loss to Boston College.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@Covfefe22 

Blew a 10-pt lead to BC in that bowl game, too--if I remember correctly.

Joe in Co
Joe in Co

@DawgNole @Covfefe22 But he beat Tech and Tenn, something UGA hadn't done in 3 years (something this senior appreciated so so much).


How's Smart against the Jackets and Vols so far? 


DawgNole
DawgNole

@Joe in Co

Hey, I appreciated it, too.

A shame the season had to end on that bowl game debacle.

dawg fan
dawg fan

@Joe in Co Kirby beat Auburn and Richt didn't.  What a dumb comment.  We can play that game all day long. 

jlrhoya
jlrhoya

Bradley wins both ways - if the Bulldogs have a bad season, he can say he said they would, if the Bulldogs have a good season, he can say he didn't jinx them.


However, he does have it right in that the Tennessee game will be the key game - if they win it, look for double-digit wins, but if they lose it, they will probably lose 4-5 games.

mark513
mark513

Don't know if Smart can coach, but I do know that he understands the importance of linemen that can block and tackle. Coach Richt never quite got that part right. I expect Georgia to win 10 to 11 games based on that very idea and if they loose a close game or two, then we can talk about Coach Smart. Until then keep hacking away at the key board Mr. Bradley  

Surelyyoujest
Surelyyoujest

I'm thinking ASU beats UGA and Notre Dame loses to Temple in week one, setting up each team to start 0-2.  If UGA loses on the road Kirby will still have a job.  If ND loses at home to UGA then Brian Kelly is gone that week - just ask VanGorder...

Jack
Jack

Sounds about right Mark. I might swap TN loss with a loss at ND.  

dawg fan
dawg fan

I fail to see how 8-5 is "much worse" than 8-4 but okay, especially when you consider the clock mismanagement Richt displayed against Auburn that year and the team without a freaking pulse he put on the field for the bowl game, both recurring problems throughout the era of our wonderful and holy almighty savior Mark Richt. Like early-Richt, Kirby will be fine.  And when he is he would be well within his rights to pull down those drawers and tell all the haters where to have a big smooch.  Thanks.