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Georgia added Clemson to its 2021 schedule.

Georgia football fills a significant need by adding Clemson to 2021 schedule

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Georgia football fills a significant need by adding Clemson to 2021 schedule

The 2014 Georgia-Clemson game was one of the better ones of the previous decade from the perspective of a Georgia supporter.

Todd Gurley had a sensational game, highlighted by an electric kickoff return. It also gave us an introduction to Nick Chubb as he made his collegiate debut that day.

Chubb also had a memorable moment, as his 47-yard, one-shoed touchdown helped push Georgia’s fourth-quarter lead to 17, as the Bulldogs were well on their way to a 45-21 win. It was a perfect start to the season in Sanford Stadium.

Since that game, both programs have gotten considerably better. The Tigers have won two national titles, while the Bulldogs have won three straight SEC East titles and played for a national title. The two programs don’t quite live in the same neighboorhood — the national championships are like Clemson’s house having a pool and full-length basketball court — but they’re certainly among the nation’s elite teams.

To wait for the next installment of this once fierce rivalry, fans were going to have to wait until 2024. For one of those games to be in either Athens or Clemson, it won’t be until 2029.

But for those longing for the next version of this game got their wish on Tuesday, when it was announced the two schools would meet to start the 2021 season in Charlotte, N.C. This game is just the latest in a now long line of future Power Five opponents. It also now gives Georgia six future games against the Tigers between now and 2033.

It also fills a pretty big need for the 2021 season, as the Bulldogs now have a real marquee opponent on their 2021 slate.

“This is another great opportunity to schedule a national non-conference game with a top level opponent,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said.  “ I know our coaches and players will be excited for the challenge to kick off the season in this kind of environment.”

Related: Kirby Smart releases official statement on adding Clemson game to schedule

Yes, Georgia does have Florida, Tennessee and Auburn on the schedule. The latter two games are on the road and likely won’t be easy tasks. But having Clemson on the slate is a different animal, given its recent history. Even if Trevor Lawrence declares for the NFL draft after his junior season, the Tigers still figure to be an elite team as they did sign the No. 3 recruiting class this past cycle.

Having the Tigers on the schedule does make-up for not having a marquee SEC West foe on the slate. While the Bulldogs played LSU in 2018 and Texas A&M in 2019, Georgia is set to play Arkansas in 2021 at home. The Razorbacks have won just one SEC game in the past three seasons.

A Georgia game against Clemson will likely be billed as the top non-conference game of the 2021 season. Georgia should be accustomed to playing in games like this, as the Notre Dame contest got similar hype last season.

“The eyes of the nation will be on Charlotte as we start the 2021 season,” Georgia Atheltic Director Greg McGarity said.“It is yet another opportunity to strengthen our schedule and provide an opportunity for our supporters to enjoy another huge matchup.”

As for the briefest of previews on the game, both teams could be breaking in new quarterbacks, as Lawrence projects as the top pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, while Jamie Newman has just one season of eligibility at Georgia. But the Bulldogs figure to have some of their top playmakers back on both sides of the ball, as George Pickens, Nolan Smith and Travon Walker will all be entering their junior seasons.

This game could also be the first chance we get to see quarterback Brock Vandagriff. He is the No. 1 ranked quarterback in the 2021 recruiting class and a 5-star prospect who is committed to Georgia.

Back when these two teams met in 2014, Deshaun Watson was making his collegiate debut. He was the No. 1 ranked dual-threat quarterback in the cycle. Clemson didn’t start him that day, but Watson still shined in the one drive he played as he led the Tigers to a touchdown. But Watson only played on one drive, and Clemson ended up getting zero second-half points.

After that game the calls for Watson to start got louder and it will be fair to wonder if there will be similar calls from Georgia fans to see Vandagriff, given he is the clear future of the Georgia quarterback position.

Clemson could also be breaking in its own 5-star quarterback, as the Tigers signed D.J. Uiagalelei could also be making his debut that day.

So a matchup between two of the top teams, with intriguing quarterback options and two of the most successful programs in recent college football season. This is the type of game that a team like Georgia needs to have on its schedule every season.

And now with Clemson taking the 2021 slot —giving the Bulldogs at least two Power Five non-conference from the 2019 season until 2033 — the Bulldogs have that at least once a year for the foreseeable future.

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