Why Georgia football’s 2019 schedule could give it an advantage over Clemson come College Football Playoff
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In addition to tough SEC slate, Georgia football has conference’s toughest non-conference slate
For just about the last 15 years, the Southeastern Conference has been the toughest and most difficult conference in all of football. Since 2006, four different SEC programs have won national titles. The other four Power Five conferences have produced a combined three programs that have won a national championship.
It’s a meat grinder of a schedule for pretty much everyone. As the SEC East has risen in prominence in the past few seasons, the conference is as rigorous as ever. Georgia’s SEC slate is once again no joke, as it faces the likes of Florida, Auburn and Texas A&M. Only one of those contests comes at home — Texas A&M — and that is after playing Florida, Missouri and Auburn in the weeks prior.
Clemson meanwhile is playing in a very-down ACC that saw significant coaching turnover this past off-season. The second best team in the conference a year ago was Syracuse, who lost to Notre Dame by a score of 36-3.
The Tigers take on South Carolina and Texas A&M as their marquee non-conference foes. In most seasons, these two games could represent solid opportunities to make a statement. But in 2019, Georgia also plays both Texas A&M and South Carolina. Those games —along with Georgia Tech — will likely be used to compare the two programs, and if Clemson plays like it did last year against those two SEC programs, it could end up hurting where the Tigers possibly get seeded.
Georgia’s non-conference schedule is bolstered by Notre Dame. While some might be down on the Fighting Irish, they are still expected to win close to 10 games and be ranked in the top-5 when they come to visit Georgia on Sept. 21.
Add in this game with Georgia Tech, Arkansas State and Murray State games and Georgia has what should be a very compelling non-conference slate. ESPN ranked it first among the SEC teams, and just behind Clemson’s, at No. 8.
Now you might be asking yourself why all this matters. If Georgia wins all the games on its regular-season schedule — it will be favored to do so — the Bulldogs will be playing in the SEC championship game. In each of the past two seasons when the Bulldogs have played in this game, it has been a play-in game into the College Football Playoff. Should Georgia win that game, hopefully beating Alabama along the way, Kirby Smart and the team will be in the College Football Playoff.
But playoff seeding and location could be crucial this year. One of the College Football Playoff games will be held in Atlanta. The other will be in Glendale, Ariz. You can bet Kirby Smart and just about every Georgia fan east of Phoenix wants the Bulldogs to play in the Atlanta playoff game. Should Georgia get the No. 1 seed, it will do just that.
Of course, the Bulldogs will likely be vying for that location against Clemson. The Tigers will be given the benefit of the doubt based upon how they’ve performed in past seasons. While that doesn’t have anything to do with the 2019 season, you can bet a number of national pundits will consider giving an unbeaten Clemson the No. 1 seed over an unbeaten Georgia because of that pedigree.
That’s where Georgia’s much tougher schedule will come into play. If the Bulldogs go unbeaten against the best conference in the country and pick up a win against Notre Dame, they will have earned the No. 1 seed and a spot in Atlanta. That shorter travel ride should end up helping Georgia, especially if Clemson would have to play say Oklahoma in Arizona.
Georgia no doubt has one of the more difficult schedules in the country in 2019. But if the Bulldogs play it right, they should absolutely ride it to a playoff game 70 miles from their stadium.
Nicolas Claxton reportedly invited to 2019 NBA Draft
The NBA draft green room on Thursday night will be filled with just about every top prospect in the 2019 NBA Draft. From Zion Williamson to Bol Bol, the green room is just about where every top prospect will wait before hearing their name called.
And now, Georgia basketball forward Nicolas Claxton will be one of those players in the room, according to a report from Sam Vecenie of The Athletic. This is just the latest indicator that Claxton’s stock has continued to rise ahead of Thursday’s draft.
When Claxton first declared for the draft, some were left scratching their heads. The sophomore showed a lot of growth last season, but many thought he needed another year of seasoning. Some even hinted at the idea that he could’ve been a lottery pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.
But Claxton has absolutely nailed the pre-draft process. He had a standout performance at the NBA draft combine in Chicago. By that point, he cemented himself as a first-round draft pick at the very least. But after a couple of stellar team workouts, Claxton could end up going even higher than that.
Multiple mock drafts have Claxton slated to go in the late teens, with The Ringer projecting Claxton to the Atlanta Hawks with the No. 17 pick. A first-round selection by itself would validate Claxton’s decision to leave early. But getting picked that higher would show that Claxton proved just about every one of his doubters wrong.
A Nic Nugget: @_claxton33 increased his Free Throw attempts from two to 6 a game this past year and his % jumped up 12 %points. He attacks the rim and gets rewarded. The next step will be more And 1s. He’s just scratching the surface in ALL AREAS! pic.twitter.com/bgHx978NuZ
— Tom Crean (@TomCrean) June 18, 2019
As a sophomore, Claxton led the Bulldogs in points, rebounds, blocks and steals. He also made improvements in his free throw shooting and free throw attempts per game. While he still has to bet better as a shooter, Claxton’s defensive potential will be a big reason why he’s taken on Thursday night.
The 2019 NBA Draft can be seen on ESPN and will begin at 7 p.m. ET on Thursday night.
Best Georgia football stories from around DawgNation
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- Nation’s No. 3 OG Andrew Raym is just about ready to make his decision
- National media laughs at Georgia fans who say they’d take a gunshot to the thigh for a national title
- Georgia football podcast: 5-star CB Kelee Ringo updates his recruitment
- Five ‘would you rather’ questions for the 2019 Georgia football season
- How Sam Pittman is potentially putting together the greatest offensive line class of all-time
- Kendall Milton gushes about his official visit to Georgia
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Congrats to Tyree Crump for being named this week’s Dawg of the Week! pic.twitter.com/3jFIXTDkOb
— Georgia Basketball (@UGABasketball) June 18, 2019
— DawgNation (@DawgNation) June 18, 2019
— Kelee Ringo (@KeleeRingo) June 18, 2019
— Georgia Baseball (@BaseballUGA) June 18, 2019
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