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Kirby Smart and Georgia will play only 10 games.

The big questions that still need answers as Georgia football moves to SEC-only 2020 schedule

The SEC announced last week that it would be moving to a 10-game conference-only slate for the 2020 season. This cleared up any confusion about whether Georgia would be playing non-conference games in 2020.

We also learned the start of the season would be pushed back to Sept. 26. The announcement did answer a number of questions about the upcoming 2020 season.

But there are still a number of critical questions that need to be answered for the upcoming Georgia football season. We’ve identified some of those below.

Related: How the Georgia football 2020 schedule has changed after moving to SEC-only slate

Who are the two additional SEC opponents for Georgia football?

The SEC announced that it would be playing a 10-game, conference-only schedule. Traditionally, the league has played eight conference games, with each team playing their six divisional opponents and two cross-divisional opponents.

Teams will still play the eight teams on their initial 2020 college football schedules. So for Georgia, that means the Bulldogs will play Auburn, Alabama, Tennessee, Florida, South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Missouri and Kentucky.

So to get to 10 games, Georgia will play two additional games against SEC West foes. It has not been formally announced how those teams will be determined. There have been two models floated, but neither has been confirmed.

Related: WATCH: SEC’s schedule announcement means big changes for Georgia football

The first is that each team would play the next two SEC West teams on their schedule rotations. For Georgia, that is Arkansas and Mississippi State. Obviously that would greatly benefit Georgia as those teams figure to be two of the worst teams in the SEC West. Florida conversely, would have to face Texas A&M and Alabama. So you can see why some push back might exist on that front.

The other model is based on strength of schedule as a way to create a more balanced schedule. With Georgia already playing Alabama and Auburn, there’s a chance that the Bulldogs would draw two weaker SEC West teams anyway.

What other Georgia football games will be impacted by schedule changes?

As of right now, the Georgia-Alabama game will need a new date. The two sides will have to play at some point after the Sept. 26 start date. The Bulldogs will need to fill Sept. 26 and Nov. 28, as those dates are now open due to the cancellation of the Louisiana-Monroe and Georgia Tech games.

Georgia will also have to play a game on Dec. 5 as a part of the new schedule. That is the final day of the regular season. The SEC championship game is now set for Dec. 19.

Georgia, like all SEC teams, will have two off-weeks. One will be on Dec. 12, where everyone in the league will be off. The second off week will occur in a three-week window during the middle of the season. But beyond that, it has not been specified when that week might be.

What happens if a game needs to be postponed or moved?

The additional off week was put into the schedule in the instance that it does need to be filled with a postponed game.

While the SEC hasn’t officially released any plans on the matter, we can use the Pac-12’s schedule release as a template. The league, which will also start on Sept. 26, play 10 conference games and have two bye weeks, did have certain games ear-marked that could be moved to the when the first off week occurs.

And the games that occur late on in the schedule could always be moved to the open Dec. 12 date.

How does all of this impact the College Football Playoff?

As of right now, the College Football Playoff committee is still planning on picking the four best teams at the end of the season to participate in the College Football Playoff.

“This is why the committee has 13 football experts,” Hancock told ESPN after the Big Ten announced it was moving to a conference-only schedule. “Their task is to select the best four teams based on play on the field and schedules that conferences establish.”

Since those comments by Hancock, the SEC and Pac-12 have announced they will be playing 10 conference games during the 2020 season. The ACC will play 10 conference games plus one non-conference game. The only Power Five league to not yet make an official announcement on its 2020 schedule changes is the Big 12, though an announcement is expected on Monday.

Hancock will be speaking with DawgNation’s Mike Griffith on the DawgNation Facebook and Youtube pages on Monday night at 7:30 p.m. ET.

How does all this impact fans in the stadium?

Some schools will not be able to have fans in the stands due to local government mandates, such as Rutgers, Syracuse and Ohio State.

As for Georgia in particular, the school is planning to have fans inside Sanford Stadium this fall. The school is expected to announce an attendance plan that would allow between 18,000 and 30,000 fans.

Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity also gave further clarification on what some of the safety measures inside Sanford Stadium will be on a call with reporters last week.

Related: Georgia has ‘great plan’ for football game attendance model, projected numbers

“There are certain expectations that anyone coming to an SEC game should have. They should feel safe, they should feel the institution is using the best practices,” McGarity said. “It’s going to be different. Masks will be mandatory.

“We’ve got a great plan. We’ve had an army of individuals working on what would our social distancing plan be. We’re going through the final pieces of that now. Once we release that, I think those that are able to come to our games can feel they’re as safe as possible.”

How will Georgia football recruiting be impacted by this?

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, the NCAA has instituted a dead period, meaning prospects are not allowed to visit schools and meet in-person with coaches, and coaches are not allowed to go visit prospects.

The NCAA last announced the dead period would run through Aug. 31, but there is a chance the NCAA could extend the dead period through that date. Given all the logistical hoops schools are jumping through to have a season, it should not be seen as a surprise to see the NCAA extend the dead period once again as adding visiting prospects to the equation introduces another variable that must be accounted for.

We have seen some prospects visit campuses, even if they can’t get an up-close view of the football facilities. Brock Bowers a, 4-star tight end target from Napa, Calif., visited the University of Georgia and toured around the campus, with an assist from local quarterback commit Brock Vandagriff. Offensive tackle target Amarius Mims also made a recent visit to Athens to hang out with Vandagriff.

Related: Brock Bowers: Nation’s No. 3 TE feels ‘Athens is different’ after his latest visit

When does practice for Georgia football?

A start to practice has not publicly been announced by the team. It could happen as soon as Aug. 9, which was 29 days from Georgia’s originally scheduled season-opener. The NCAA is leaving it to conferences and teams if they want to push back the start of fall practice.

The Pac-12 for example will begin fall practices on Aug. 17. But some schools, like Oklahoma, have already put pads on as its first game is set for Aug. 29.

Georgia, like many teams, did not have a spring practice due to COVID-19, so starting practices on Aug. 9 could be seen as a way to make up for those lost practices. With Georgia installing a new offense as well as trying to figure out who the starting quarterback will be, the Bulldogs would really benefit from the additional practices that could be gained with a later start to the 2020 season.

The Bulldogs are still going through the walk-through with summer access portion of the NCAA’s calendar. The Bulldogs are allowed up to eight hours a week of weight training and conditioning, up to six hours of meetings with coaches and up to six hours of walk-throughs with a football.  Schools are not allowed to exceed more than an hour a day on both the meetings and walk-through portion.

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