Georgia football-Oklahoma-series
090422 Atlanta: Georgia head coach Kirby Smart walks onto the field before Georgia’s game against Oregon in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff game at Mercedes Benz Stadium, Saturday, September 3, 2022, in Atlanta. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

What Oklahoma series cancelation means for Georgia football future

Georgia’s 2023 schedule got a lot softer on Wednesday, as the school announced it would be canceling its home-and-home with Oklahoma at the behest of the SEC.

The reason being is that Oklahoma’s return trip to Athens is scheduled for 2031, well after the Sooners officially join the SEC. Tennessee and LSU have also had future series against the Sooners canceled as well.

The news impacts Georgia on a number of fronts. For starters, the decision by the SEC to cancel the series doesn’t seem to indicate that Oklahoma and Texas are imminently joining the league. The expectation is the two schools will still join the league in 2025, as both schools seem unwilling to pay the nearly $80 million needed to buy themselves out of the Big 12 grant of rights deal.

As the SEC outlined, the reason for the cancelation has more to do with the scheduled return trips for Oklahoma in its series against Georgia and Tennessee than it does about its status as a conference member for the 2023 or 2024 season.

“The Southeastern Conference has directed the University of Georgia and the University of Tennessee to postpone scheduled football games versus Oklahoma because the transition of Oklahoma into the SEC will not allow for the involved institutions to fulfill their respective contractual non-conference home-and-home appearance obligations,” the league said in a statement.

“Because the second non-conference game in each of the Georgia-Oklahoma and Tennessee-Oklahoma series is scheduled to take place after Oklahoma joins the SEC in 2025, the Conference is directing the postponement of the Georgia at Oklahoma game in 2023 and the Oklahoma at Tennessee game in 2024 until such time that those matchups become part of the Conference rotation of games in future years.”

Related: SEC instructs Georgia football to not play home-and-home against Oklahoma

Georgia also has a future series against the Texas Longhorns scheduled for the 2028 and 2029 seasons. Given what happened with the Oklahoma series, it is likely the Texas one will suffer a similar fate.

As for 2023, Oklahoma was set to be the big non-conference game for the Bulldogs. These games have become a staple under Kirby Smart, with the Bulldogs playing and winning games against Oregon, Clemson and Notre Dame. The Bulldogs blasted the Ducks 49-3 earlier this season.

Oklahoma replaced the Georgia game with a home-and-home against SMU, which is slightly more attractive than what Georgia got, but still a step down for the Sooners as well.

The Bulldogs will be breaking in a new quarterback to open next season, as Stetson Bennett is in his final year of eligibility. The half-full view is that said quarterback now gets two cupcake games to ease into before Georgia opens up SEC play next year.

The downside is that playing on the road at Oklahoma would’ve given us a far better understanding of what Georgia would be working with at the quarterback position.

Kirby Smart wants non-conference games like the ones against Oklahoma and Texas to happen. He sees clear benefits for the Georgia program in playing, especially from a home-and-home perspective where you get a chance to host a ton of major recruits.

“It’s never changed for us,” Smart said prior to playing Oregon. “It has always been my philosophy to go play quality opponents, Power-5 opponents, a good matchup. I don’t care if it’s home and home. I don’t care if it’s neutral site. Go play a good team that helps your team get better. When you play in the SEC, you’re going to run the gauntlet anyways. What’s playing one more good, physical team. We don’t run from that at Georgia. We try to embrace that.”

While Georgia wasn’t getting that next season as the game was to be played in Norman, Okla., the removal of this game is still a net loss for Georgia. Yes, the Bulldogs get an extra home game out of it and they don’t have to dress for Oklahoma.

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