Predicting how a team will do over the course of a season can be perilous. Predicting every single game is an even bigger risk. Then again, when have I ever been wrong? (Oh look, a squirrel …) And with that, here are the projected results for every game of Georgia’s 2015 regular season:
Sept. 5, Louisiana-Monroe, noon: Since 2009, Georgia’s season openers have included games against Oklahoma State (road loss), Boise State (Georgia Dome loss), and Clemson twice (road loss, home win), with puff balls Louisiana-Lafayette and Buffalo sandwiched between. Puff balls — definitely the way to go. The Warhawks gave Texas A&M a scare last season, losing 21-16 in College Station. But if Georgia can’t handle a Sun Belt opponent that also lost to Kentucky 48-14, you may want to close your eyes the rest of the season. Bulldogs win.
Sept. 12, at Vanderbilt, 3:30 p.m.: Two years ago, the Commodores upset a Top 25 team for the first time since 2008. The opponent: Georgia. But coach James Franklin went to Penn State and now things are back to normal: Vandy kinda stinks again, going 3-9 last season (0-8 in SEC). Dogs have had hiccups in Nashville before, but this game shouldn’t be a struggle. Bulldogs win.
Sept 19, South Carolina, 6 p.m.: Steve Spurrier has thin skin, is a paranoid schizophrenic and generally looks like a hyperventilating 6-year-old at times. But he also has Georgia’s number: The Gamecocks have won four of the past five meetings and five of eight since 2007, despite usually having the lesser talent. But with issues on defense and at quarterback, good luck to the HBC winning this one. Bulldogs win.
Sept. 26, Southern: What does a coach do the week before a three-game stretch against Alabama, at Tennessee and Missouri? Schedule somebody from a small and distant friendly planet, like the SWAC. Southern is a solid FCS program but has no business playing an SEC team, unless it needs the money, and clearly it does. If you enjoyed the animated short, “Godzilla vs. Bambi,” this game is for you. Bulldogs win.
Oct. 3, Alabama: Some seem to believe Alabama is eroding, which I guess is to be expected when a program goes from winning three national titles in four years to season-defining collapses in consecutive seasons (going 11-0 until losing at Auburn in 2013 on a 100-yard return of a missed field-goal attempt; losing last year’s national title game to Ohio State 42-35 after leading 21-6). Just guessing: Bama wins the West again this season. But they’ll lose this game. Jeremy Pruitt’s defense against former boss Nick Saban will be the difference. Fashion prediction: Georgia won’t wear black jerseys. That didn’t go too well in 2008. Bulldogs win.
Oct. 10, at Tennessee: What happens in Athens when the Dogs are coming off a big win and everybody is talking about SEC and national championships? This: letdown. Knoxville has a history of hosting Georgia nightmares, and this Volunteers team should be pretty good, so it’s not like this would be a monumental upset. But I don’t see Georgia coming back strong after the previous week. Bubble bursts. Bulldogs lose.
Oct. 17, Missouri: File “two-time defending SEC East champion Missouri” under things you couldn’t predict. The Tigers were poleaxed by Georgia in Columbia (34-0) last year, but closed the regular season with six consecutive wins and won the East when the Dogs face-planted in Jacksonville. But Mizzou is mediocre on offense, young on defense and could be looking at a fourth-place finish. Bulldogs win.
Oct. 31, Florida (Jacksonville), 3:30 p.m.: Last year’s loss to Florida was arguably the worst in Mark Richt’s tenure, given what was on the table for Georgia and the level of the opponent (the Gators lost three of the previous four and were on the verge of firing Will Muschamp). New coach Jim McElwain was known for his offenses at Colorado State, but it’s going to take more than one recruiting season to fix Florida. Bulldogs win.
Nov. 7, Kentucky: Coach Mark Stoops looked like he was onto something when the Wildcats were 5-1 last season (including a win over South Carolina). But then came six consecutive losses. Giving up 31-plus points and 400-plus yards every week will do that. Nick Chubb runs for 200. Bulldogs win.
Nov. 14, at Auburn: I’m not sure why so many believe Auburn will be a dominant team this season. With high expectations, the Tigers lost four of their last five games a year ago, including 34-7 in Athens. Prediction: They won’t win the West (Alabama will), but they will be pretty good, and they will win this game. Two reasons: 1) home field; 2) significantly improved running defense under coordinator Will Muschamp. Bulldogs lose.
Nov. 21, Georgia Southern: This is third time Mark Richt scheduled the option offense of Southern to prep for the Georgia Tech game. The Eagles’ objective: don’t get too beat up because they will have two games left as they go for a second consecutive Sun Belt title. Bulldogs win.
Nov. 28, at Georgia Tech: Coach Paul Johnson has won twice in Athens, and if you ever forget that he would be happy to remind you 37 times. But the Jackets are 0-3 at home against Georgia. That includes a 41-34 loss in double overtime two years ago after Tech led 20-0. Hard to predict rivalry games. But in the end, I think the Dogs’ defense makes a play and Tech’s doesn’t. Bulldogs win.