ATHENS — After winning back-to-back national championships, the Georgia Bulldogs were unable to make the final iteration of the four-team College Football Playoff in 2023.

The field will expand to 12 teams this coming season, with the four highest-ranked conference champions earning first-round byes.

And if the Bulldogs are to earn one of those byes, they will need to win the SEC. To do that, and undoubtedly impress the College Football Playoff committee in the process, the Bulldogs are going to need to have some impressive road showings.

“Georgia has four true road games and two neutral site games (Aug. 31 vs. Clemson and Nov. 2 vs. Florida),” ESPN’s Heather Dinich said. “The Bulldogs can earn some major respect in the committee meeting room if they beat Alabama, Ole Miss and Texas -- likely all ranked opponents -- on the road.”

Based on the way-too-early rankings, no team in the country may have as difficult a road schedule as the Bulldogs. Georgia has two September road games against Kentucky and Alabama, before making a trip to Austin in October and Oxford, Miss., in November.

All four of those road games are against teams that are ranked in the “Way-Too-Early” Top 25 rankings from ESPN. Texas is ranked No. 4, Ole Miss is at No. 6, Alabama is No. 9 and Kentucky slides in at No. 23.

While the road schedule may be difficult on paper, Georgia has a great track record of winning on the road under Smart. In the eight seasons that Kirby Smart has been the head coach at Georgia, the Bulldogs have lost just four road games. The last one came against Alabama during the 2020 COVID season. Before that, you would have to go back to the 2018 loss at LSU to find a road defeat for Georgia.

The Bulldogs are 30-4 on the road since Smart got started in 2016.

The Bulldogs also return one of the most talented teams in the country. Quarterback Carson Beck returns for a second season as Georgia’s starting quarterback. The Bulldogs also see All-Americans Malaki Starks and Tate Ratledge are back as well.

Georgia does have to replace several key players but Smart brought in the No. 1 ranked recruiting class for the 2024 recruiting cycle and landed several talented transfers out of the transfer portal as well.

The Bulldogs will have their first practices of the 2024 season starting in March, as spring practices get underway. The Bulldogs will conclude spring practice on April 13 when they host their annual G-Day scrimmage in Sanford Stadium.