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The 5 most important games of 2018
Previously in our “Way-Too-Early Look at 2018” series, I broke down my early predictions for each game on Georgia’s schedule. Now, I’m going to look which five of those games will be most important to the Bulldogs’ success in 2018. Let’s go.
- 5. Georgia Tech, Nov. 24 — Georgia Tech will be the final hurdle Georgia must clear, and the Yellow Jackets, as always, have the ability to upend the Bulldogs’ season. Georgia may enter this game with the SEC East division title already in hand and could go on to win the conference the next week regardless of the result against Georgia Tech. But even a conference champion that passes the eye test can be knocked out of the College Football Playoff. Just ask Ohio State.
- 4. Florida, Oct. 27 — For the first time in a long time, I don’t have much doubt Georgia will win this game. (That could change by late October.) But the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party will still be important to setting the tone for the stretch run of the season. It’ll also be a chance for Georgia to prove that it doesn’t matter if Jim McElwain, Dan Mullen or Steve Spurrier is on the sideline with the Gators. This is Georgia’s time in the WLCOP rivalry, and they better get used to it.
- 3. At South Carolina, Sept. 8 — The Georgia-South Carolina game returns to its traditional early season slot, making it a tone-setter for both programs. Coming off a 9-4 record and an Outback Bowl win over Michigan, Will Muschamp has instilled renewed belief in Gamecocks fans, which means there should be a rowdy crowd for this pivotal away game. While those circumstances could make this a tricky game for a Georgia team trying to break in a lot of new pieces, it could also be a fantastic opportunity. South Carolina figures to be Georgia’s biggest competition for the SEC East. If Georgia can knock off South Carolina in Week 2, it’ll have a wide open path to a division title.
- 2. At LSU, Oct. 13 — Regardless of whether it’s an up or down year for the Tigers, a trip to Death Valley always will feel like a big deal. Aside from (maybe) the Auburn game, this is the highest-profile contest on the schedule. With the relative weakness of the first half of the schedule, this may be Georgia’s first chance to prove 2017 wasn’t a fluke. Being right before the bye week, it could serve as a chance for the Dawgs to certify their status as title contenders and go into the second half of the season with a pep in their step. A loss would set up potential must-win games against Florida and Auburn. Either way, this trip to the Bayou will be huge.
- 1. Auburn, Nov. 10 — In the wake of the two showdowns between the Bulldogs and Tigers in 2017, the 2018 edition of the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry could be one of the most exciting in years. With Auburn taking the regular-season game and Georgia taking the SEC Championship Game, these fan bases took the hate and animosity to the next level. The early November game between the hedges will be viewed as a rubber match of sorts, with both sides attempting to prove that its previous loss to the other was a fluke. And with both teams likely battling to win their division, every win (or loss) will matter.
A quick note before we move on. I’m planning on wrapping up this series Friday with a look at the biggest questions of the offseason. But one of the (few) joys of the offseason is that it’s a blank slate. Without any games or opponents to prepare for, we can talk about pretty much anything you want. I’ve got some ideas for posts outside this series percolating, but if y’all are interested in continuing it and finding more angles on the 2018 season to go over, let me know in the comments. I’m all ears.
A Way-Too-Early Look at 2018: Schedule breakdown | Top 10 players | Early enrollee rankings | Top redshirt freshmen | Top rising sophomores | Top rising juniors | Top rising seniors | Potential breakout players
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An early look at the receiving corps
Seth Emerson of DawgNation continued his series of position breakdowns with a look at the wide receivers and how the Bulldogs will replace leading receiver Javon Wims. One of the top options will be senior Terry Godwin, the leading returning receiver the last two seasons.
Godwin has the unusual distinction of being Georgia’s second-leading receiver each of the past three seasons. Could he make it four in a row, taking a backseat to [Mecole] Hardman? That’s very possible. Not that second place is anything to be ashamed about, especially since Godwin’s catch at Notre Dame is one of the most memorable moments of a great season. Either way, there’s finally some stability in this unit, with [Jake] Fromm (and/or Justin Fields) knowing who they have to work with in 2018, especially with [Riley] Ridley’s performance in the National Championship Game being a good starting point.
While Georgia likes to have a rotation of between six-to-eight receivers, the offense tends to feature only three in main roles. That could be attributed to starting a freshman quarterback in two straight seasons. Assuming Fromm holds off Justin Fields — and for the purposes of this sentence, we will assume that happens — then perhaps a more comfortable Fromm will be able to spread the ball around to more receivers.
Make sure you read the rest of Emerson’s post on the outlook at receiver for quotes from WR coach James Coley and a lot of other good info. And check below for the rest of the posts in his series.
Position outlooks: QB | RB | WR
Player participation breakdown for #SICEM17