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Georgia head coach Kirby Smart speaks to the media during the 2021 SEC Football Kickoff Media Days on July 20,2021 at the Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover, Ala. (Jimmie Mitchell/SEC)
Jimmie Mitchell

What SEC expansion might mean for future Georgia games against marquee non-conference opponents

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How Georgia’s non-conference schedule could be impacted by SEC expansion

Thursday is expected to be another marquee day when it comes to expanding the Southeastern Conference.

SEC Presidents are set to meet and the expectation is that all 14 members will vote yes to extending an invite to Texas and Oklahoma to enter the league.

There has been a popular push to see a nine-game conference slate, especially as a way to get every team a chance to play every other conference member. With a nine-game conference schedule in a division set-up, every team would get to play each SEC team at least once in a four-year window. In a pods system, they would play every team twice in a four-year window.

Related: Potential Texas, Oklahoma additions could greatly impact future Georgia schedule

That means more games like Georgia-Texas A&M, Georgia-LSU, and yes Georgia-Oklahoma and Georgia-Texas.

Of course, the Bulldogs were set to play Texas and Oklahoma twice in the next decade as part of previously scheduled home-and-homes.

What happens with those games, in particular, will be worth watching, as we’ve seen teams in the past play conference foes as a non-conference opponent. North Carolina and Wake Forest did this in the ACC in 2019, for example.

But the addition of Texas and Oklahoma raises a larger question beyond just those two games; what happens to Georgia’s future games against marquee non-conference opponents?

Georgia has future games against Clemson, Oregon, UCLA, Louisville, Florida State and Ohio State, in addition to the annual game against Georgia Tech.

Obviously, some of those opponents are bigger than others. Two games against Clemson and one against Oregon will be played on neutral fields but the rest of them are home-and-homes.

These type of games are ones fans are looking forward to. Kirby Smart is as well.

“I want the fans to enjoy the games. I want big games,” Smart said. “They enjoy those environments. You know, there’s not a game that we’re afraid to schedule. I just don’t look at it that way.

“I’ve always said since I got here, ‘I want to have a demanding, rewarding schedule. I want to play more Power 5s, because I think the smaller games are going off TV, I don’t think fans are going to come out for those games as much.”

Smart added the potential of expanded College Football Playoff led to Georgia so aggressively scheduling these types of non-conference games. In June, the talk of an expanded, 12-team playoff came to light, which seemed to validate Smart’s thought process.

Recent days though have shown that some are pushing back on fast-tracking playoff expansion in the wake of SEC expansion. Coaches like Dabo Swinney and Mack Brown have also come out against a 12-team playoff.

If the Bulldogs are going to play more games against an even tougher SEC slate, what does the appetite look like for potentially playing three more Power 5 teams?

In 2027, Georgia is set to play Florida State, Louisville and Georgia Tech as a part of its non-conference slate. The 2030 season sees Georgia host Clemson, Ohio State and Georgia Tech.