Georgia’s first game as the defending National Champion will be against a familiar face. And it’s against a very talented Oregon squad as well, that will be led by Dan Lanning.
Lanning served as the defensive coordinator at Georgia from 2019 through 2021, playing a key part in building Georgia’s 2021 defense. Now he will be tasked with taking Oregon to greater heights as he replaces new Miami coach Mario Cristobal.
Related: Dan Lanning wants to ‘finish the right way’ with Georgia football as he makes big moves at Oregon
Given the history between Lanning and Georgia, along with the fact that both teams figure to rank among the top-15 teams in the country, ESPN tabbed the opening week matchup as one of the best non-conference games of the 2022 season.
“The Ducks will be a favorite to win the Pac-12 North again, and will be a good early test for a Georgia team that will undoubtedly be talented in 2022 but likely will be different from the 2021 version,” ESPN’s Harry Lyles wrote.
Oregon will have to replace star defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux, who figures to be a top-5 pick in the upcoming NFL draft. But this Oregon team is stacked with talent that Georgia recruiting fans know well. Linebackers Noah Sewell and Justin Flowe will make life difficult for the Georgia rushing attack, while cornerback Dontae Manning will help out in the secondary.
The Ducks will have a new quarterback and it could be a name Georgia knows well in Bo Nix. Should Nix beat out Ty Thompson, he would start against a team he saw three times in his career at Auburn. He was 0-3 against the Bulldogs, but it would be unfair to put all of that on him.
For Georgia, it will be a team that may have to rely more on its offense than defense, at least early in the season. The Bulldogs lose their top three inside linebackers, Jordan Davis, Travon Walker and Devonte Wyatt on the defensive line and Lewis Cine and Derion Kendrick in the secondary. Nolan Smith and Jalen Carter will look to make a bigger impact this coming season, as will cornerback Kelee Ringo.
Offensively, many of the same faces that played a key role in the win against Alabama will be back. Stetson Bennett announced his return for another season, looking to build off a 29 touchdown season.
Related: Georgia football way-too-early 2022 offensive depth chart predictions
Georgia will have to replace standout running backs Zamir White and James Cook, as those two are both off to the NFL. Add in George Pickens and the transfer of Jermaine Burton, the Bulldogs will need to find players who can consistently make explosive players.
The big name to know on offense will be tight end Brock Bowers, who led Georgia in every receiving category last season. Bowers vs. Flowe and Sewell should be a lot of fun to watch if you’re a neutral football fan.
Among some of the other big Week 1 games include Ohio State-Notre Dame, Utah-Florida and LSU-Florida State. Georgia’s game against Oregon is set for Sept. 3 and will be played in Mercedes Benz Stadium.
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