ATHENS — Kirby Smart has mastered the art of noon kickoffs for Georgia football, and he had plenty of practice.
The Bulldogs lead the SEC in the number of noon kickoffs since 2013 (with 39), per an AL.com study by Michael Casagrande, and the most recent 24 of those have come in Smart’s 7 1/2 seasons leading the program.
Georgia plays at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday at Auburn in a CBS game, and next week’s game with Kentucky has been set for a 7 p.m. kick, but a noon game at Vanderbilt may be forthcoming in 2 1/2 weeks.
Georgia has already played one noon game this season (a 45-3 win over Ball State), and if history is an indicator might play two or three more.
The Georgia Tech “rivalry” has devolved into a noon kickoff, and many of Georgia’s recent Vanderbilt and Missouri games have been played at noon.
Smart has said he likes the early kickoffs because it allows him more time with family and recruits — important, in light of the fact Georgia plays one less home-state game every other year than all the SEC opponents with the UGA administration extending the contract to play designated home games against Florida in Jacksonville.
“Probably being able to go home and watch the night games with my kids and my wife is the big thing for me,” Smart said in 2019 when asked about the advantages of the early kickoff games.
Smart said in 2020 the Bulldogs to make sure to adjust their body clocks before noon kicks.
“That’s a time frame where you’ve got to kind of get used to it,” Smart said. “You’ve got to get comfortable with it, get used to getting up and going. Our kids don’t operate like that.
“It will be important the Thursday and Friday leading up to that they get a good sleep schedule.”
It is worth noting Georgia’s most recent home loss was a noon kick against South Carolina -- a 20-17 double-overtime loss to a Will Muschamp and Bryan McClendon coached Gamecocks squad.
But the Bulldogs have reeled off 13-straight noon game wins since then, with Smart seemingly having solved the puzzle for proper preparation and Georgia fans answering his call for early enthusiasm in a Top 10 matchup with Arkansas in 2021.
“To be that loud at noon it’s beyond elite,” Smart said. “Let’s call it like we see it. We challenged the fans because I knew we needed them. They answered the bell. The players answered the bell. Total team unity and effort and buy in from the fan base and everyone else.”
The Razorbacks had two false-start penalties on its opening possession and five in the game, with quarterback KJ Jefferson calling the environment “surreal.”
Here’s a look at the programs with the most noon regular-season games since 2013, and a list of the noon games Smart has coached at UGA:
Most Noon Scheduled Kicks SEC, since 2013:
S. Carolina 37
Texas A&M 26
Ole Miss 26
Miss. State 23
Georgia noon game results under Kirby Smart:
Sept. 9 Vs. Ball State, Won 45-3
Nov. 26 Vs. Georgia Tech, Won 37-14
Sept. 24 Vs. Kent State, Won 39-22
Sept. 17 at South Carolina, Won 48-7
Nov. 27 at Georgia Tech, Won 45-0
Nov. 20 Vs. Charleston Southern, Won 56-7
Nov. 6 Vs. Missouri, Won 43-6
Oct. 2 Vs. Arkansas, Won 37-0
Sept. 25 at Vanderbilt, Won 62-0
Jan. 1 (2021) Vs. Cincinnati, Won 21-14
Dec. 12 at Missouri, Won 49-14
Oct. 31 at Kentucky, Won 14-3
Nov. 30 at Georgia Tech, Won 52-7
Oct. 12 Vs. South Carolina, Lost 20-17, 2OT
Sept. 14 Vs. Arkansas State, Won 55-0
Nov. 24 Vs. Georgia Tech, Won 45-21
Sept. 22 at Missouri, Won 43-29
Sept. 15 Vs. Middle Tennessee, Won 49-7
Nov. 25: At Georgia Tech, Won 38-7
Oct. 7: At Vanderbilt, Won 45-14
Dec. 30: Vs. TCU, Won 31-23
Nov. 26: Vs. Georgia Tech, Lost 28-27
Nov. 19: Vs. UL-Lafayette, Won 35-21
Oct. 15: Vs. Vanderbilt, Lost 17-16
Sept. 24: at Ole Miss, Lost 45-14
Sept. 10: Vs. Nicholls, Won 26-24