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Kirby Smart is entering his fifth season as Georgia's head coach.

ESPN analyst explains why Georgia football is ‘best bet’ to win 2020 SEC title

Connor Riley

Georgia football last won the SEC in 2017. But the Bulldogs have represented the SEC East in each of the past three seasons. Under Kirby Smart, Georgia has ascended to being one of the top programs in the country, and oddsmakers continually view them as such.

The problem for Georgia is that there’s also usually a heavyweight waiting for them once they get to Atlanta. Alabama went to the national title game in 2018, while LSU won the whole thing this past season. So the Bulldogs might not always end up cashing in, despite being one of the better teams in the country.

Georgia once again figures to be one of the nation’s top teams, led by what should be another elite defense. But the Bulldogs have a number of questions on the offensive side of the ball, as Georgia will be breaking in a quarterback and offensive coordinator while also looking for a new top running back and replacing multiple starters on the offensive line.

So while the Bulldogs still have better odds than most to win the SEC, along with national title odds, they’re not seen as the overwhelming front runner that they have been in year’s past. The Florida Gators have made up significant ground, and the SEC West is still as loaded as ever.

And it’s because of those other suitors, ESPN and College GameDay Gambling analyst Chris ‘The Bear” Fallica actually think the Bulldogs are the “best bet” — in terms of value — to win the SEC this year at +350 per Caesars Sportsbook. 

“This could be the season for the Bulldogs if QB Jamie Newman and the new offensive staff come together,” Falica wrote.  “Sure, there are some holes to fill on the offensive line — which UGA should be able to do — and they need a wide receiver or two to complement George Pickens, but the legs of Newman should be a big deal this season.”

Newman ran for 574 yards last season and six touchdowns while quarterbacking Wake Forest. He also has some strong odds of his own when it comes to winning the top individual award in college football, as he is tied for the fifth-best odds to win the Heisman Trophy at 16-to-1 per Fan Duel Sportsbook.

That’s all despite not yet taking even a single practice snap for the Bulldogs. Georgia’s spring practice was completely wiped out due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Safe to say expectations are very high for Newman this fall, even if he hasn’t proven himself in a Georgia uniform.

Using the same Caesars odds, Georgia has the second-best odds at the moment to win the conference. Alabama has the top odds at +125, while Florida is just behind Georgia at +400. The team with the fourth-best odds to win the conference next year is Auburn at +600.

What you’ll notice about those three teams is that all of them are on Georgia’s schedule next. The Bulldogs visit Alabama on Sept. 19. Georgia hosts Auburn on Oct. 10 before playing Florida in Jacksonville, Fla. on Oct. 31.

Fallica took note of Georgia’s tough schedule — which also features a home game against Tennessee — and figured that if the Bulldogs can split the Alabama-Florida games, Georgia has a favorable chance of getting to Atlanta for a fourth straight year.

Georgia has beaten Florida in each of the past three seasons, while Alabama has won five straight games against Georgia. Like Georgia, Alabama will be breaking in a newish quarterback, as Mac Jones or Bryce Young will take over full-time for Tua Tagovailoa. Jones started four games for the Crimson Tide last year while Tagovailoa was injured.

Florida meanwhile brings back Kyle Trask, and seems like a possible media darling. The Gators draw a reloading LSU team and an Ole Miss team that will be led by first-year head coach Lane Kiffin from the SEC West.

But the Bulldogs figure to have perhaps the nation’s top defense, as they bring back a number of contributors from the No. 1 scoring defense in the country in 2019. Georgia also signed the nation’s No. 1 signing class to help fill some of those holes on the offensive side of the football.

Georgia is set to open the 2020 season on Sept. 7, as it takes on Virginia.

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