ATHENS — Coach Kirby Smart isn’t looking past Saturday’s high noon shootout at Missouri, but with the release of the 2019 Georgia football schedule, Bulldogs fans can look ahead.
The SEC office has dealt Georgia a tough hand with five teams having open dates — essentially an extra week of preparation — before they play the Bulldogs in 2019.
This, in a season Georgia has the built-in disadvantage of playing rivalry games against Auburn and Georgia Tech on the road in a three-week span.
Throw in the fact that Texas A&M is the Bulldogs’ opponent between those games, and it makes things tougher, provided early impressions of Jimbo Fisher’s effect on the Aggies hold true.
Opening at Vanderbilt is not necessarily a good thing either. It would be more advantageous for Georgia — or any other team deep in talent — to face the Commodores later in the season when their relative lack of depth becomes more apparent.
Game Two and Game Three are against cream puffs. Murray State is yet another overmatched FCS opponent, while Arkansas State lost to Alabama 57-7 the second week of this season, if that tells you anything
The Sept. 21 home date with Notre Dame is quite a showcase game, guaranteed to draw national interest and provide the potential for an oil painting moment.
Georgia fans should savor seeing a high-profile non-conference opponent in Sanford Stadium, as it could be the last time in a while that happens.
The 2020 non-conference opponents headed for Sanford Stadium are Louisiana-Monroe, East Tennessee State and Georgia Tech. The game with Virginia will be played in Atlanta.
The two bye weeks this season are a nice feature of the schedule, and probably long overdue. It goes without saying that football is a physical game, and the extra week of recovery for the student athletes could serve to help prevent more serious injuries.
Georgia gets its bye weeks this season on Sept. 28 and Oct. 26 — the week before games at Tennessee and against Florida in Jacksonville.
There’s no real advantage for the Bulldogs’ bye weeks, however, because the Vols and Gators also have bye weeks before their meetings with Georgia.
Then comes the disparity, with three other opponents getting bye weeks before facing Georgia:
• South Carolina has a bye week before it’s Oct. 12 trip to Athens to play the Bulldogs
• Missouri has a bye week before its Nov. 9 trip to play Georgia in Sanford Stadium
• Auburn has a bye week before it plays host to Georgia on Nov. 16.
Georgia football schedule 2019
Complete SEC week-by-week 2019 schedule
*Home games in bold