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Georgia football players weigh in on new, 10-game SEC schedule

If there’s an opposing coach that knows the most about Georgia and its personnel, it’s the coach the Bulldogs play to open the new-look 2020 season.

The Bulldogs’ first opponent on Sept. 26 will be against Arkansas and former Georgia offensive line coach Sam Pittman. The Bulldogs are still widely expected to win that opening contest, as one sportsbook has Georgia as a 24-point favorite, but with Pittman and a few other former Georgia assistants on the staff, the opening game for Georgia does add some intrigue that may not have been there if Georgia were playing a Vanderbilt or Missouri.

The Razorbacks were one of two additional opponents added to Georgia’s schedule, with the Bulldogs getting Mississippi State on Nov. 21. Due to the removal of non-conference games, the SEC will be going to a 10-game, conference-only schedule this season.

The SEC released the full 2020 schedule on Monday. The rejiggered schedule has Georgia playing Auburn and Tennessee in the first three weeks of the season, while the Bulldogs will travel to Alabama for the fourth game of the season. On the original 2020 schedule, Alabama was set to be Georgia’s SEC opener.

Related: SEC releases full Georgia football 2020 schedule

While the new schedule was certainly a taking point for fans and media members, the Georgia players didn’t seem all that phased by it. They’ve known for a few weeks they’d have 10 games, and the plan is to take the new schedule one game at a time.

“I’m grateful to be playing all the teams we are playing, but our focus is on us right now,” Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean said. “No matter what the order of the games are, we’re going to prepare the same each week. As a team, we will practice hard. That’s what we do.”

Related: Georgia LB Nakobe Dean: ‘2020 defense hasn’t done anything’

The Bulldogs began practicing on Monday and the team will have 25 practices to prepare for the season-opener against the Razorbacks. Georgia outside linebacker Azeez Ojulari is looking forward to the game, given the familiarity with Pittman and some Arkansas assistants such as former special teams coordinator Scott Fountain. The Razorbacks also have former Missouri head coach Barry Odom as the defensive coordinator and former Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks on the roster as well.

For years the SEC had pushed back when it comes to adding more conference games, preferring to stay at eight. This season will force them to look at what more conference games mean for the league, as well as how that impacts some of the teams at the top. Some of the logic for keeping the conference schedule at eight games — the ACC, PAC-12 and Big 12 have all gone to nine conference games — is that with the SEC being a tougher conference, the top teams competing for spots in the lucrative College Football Playoff or New Years Six games might incur another regular-season loss.

Some, such as ESPN’s Rece Davis, are excited about the expansion to 10-conference games and would like to see it be kept that way going forward as he said on the SEC schedule reveal on Monday. ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit added that the 10-game schedule does benefit Georgia in this season, as the Florida Gators drew a Texas A&M as a crossover opponent and thus have a more difficult schedule.

Herbstreit did pick the Bulldogs to win the SEC East and play in the SEC championship game, which is set for Dec. 19.

Ojulari did add that it would be a challenge for Georgia with the extra SEC games but it’s something he’s looking forward to.

“The SEC has competition every week, so that would be great for us,” Georgia outside linebacker Azeez Ojulari said. “Going to battle every week no matter what team it is. We have to bring our A-game every week.”

Georgia football 2020 schedule

• Sept. 26 Georgia at Arkansas

• Oct. 3 Auburn at Georgia

• Oct. 10 Tennessee at Georgia

• Oct. 17 Georgia at Alabama

• Oct. 24 Georgia at Kentucky

• Oct. 31 No Game

• Nov. 7 Florida vs. Georgia

• Nov. 14 Georgia at Missouri

• Nov. 21 Mississippi State at Georgia

• Nov. 28 Georgia at South Carolina

• Dec. 5 Vanderbilt at Georgia

• Dec. 19 SEC Championship Game, Atlanta

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