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Georgia football could really end up benefitting from possible 10-game SEC slate

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A 10-game conference schedule might benefit Georgia football in 2020

On Wednesday, the ACC announced it would be playing 10 conference games in the 2020 season, to go along with one non-conference game. The league joins the Big Ten and Pac-12 in making adjustments to the 2020 schedule.

The SEC might not be far behind.

The conference’s presidents are set to meet on Thursday, and the college football schedule is expected to come up in the meeting.

Georgia already had its schedule impacted on Wednesday, as the ACC’s scheduling set-up ended up canceling the Georgia-Virginia game, due to the non-conference game not being played in Virginia’s home state. If Georgia and Georgia Tech were to play though, that would be allowed under the ACC’s schedule model.

The ACC is the first conference to publicly announce it’s moving to a 10-game conference schedule for this upcoming season, though it’s been reported the Big Ten and Pac-12 are both looking into going to a 10-game conference schedule model. The SEC has long stayed at an 8-game conference schedule, but that too might be changing.

Related: 3 big questions for SEC: What (schedule model), when (season start), who (opposing teams)

According to a report from Sports Illustrated’s Ross Dellenger, the SEC is now considering a 10-game conference-only slate. That would take off the non-conference games, such as Georgia-Georgia Tech, and expand Georgia’s SEC slate by two games. CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd also reported the league is considering two other models for the 2020 season that both include one non-conference game.

In the model Dellenger reported, the league could add the next two cross-division teams in each respective team’s rotation.

For Georgia, this might actually benefit the team compared to some of their SEC counterparts. In particular, Florida would be one of the big losers.

Those two extra games would mean a home contest against Arkansas and a road game against Mississippi State. Both those teams are working with first-year head coaches and figure to be among the worst teams in the SEC West. Given Georgia already has SEC West games against Alabama and Auburn, it’s a lucky break that the Bulldogs aren’t matching up with say LSU and Texas A&M.

The rival Florida Gators, on the other hand, do not catch that same break. If the SEC were to add the next two teams in the rotation to Florida’s schedule, it would mean a home game against Alabama and a road game against Texas A&M. Both those teams figure to be ranked in the top-15 to start the college football season, with many seeing each as possible College Football Playoff contenders.

The Gators would also have SEC West contests against LSU and Ole Miss, as both were on the original 2020 schedule. The schedule, specifically the differences in SEC West foes, was why many had Florida as an attractive College Football Playoff contender.

It’s worth pointing out once again that at this is all still speculative. The only schedule change at this point for Georgia is that it won’t be playing Virginia on Sept. 7. As mentioned above the SEC could still go with an 8-game conference schedule and one non-conference game schedule. It could also follow the ACC’s model, which would likely appease the SEC foes that have games against in-state ACC rivals.

Related: ACC announces official changes to 2020 football schedule

One other change the ACC made, beyond getting Notre Dame to join the conference temporarily, is the league won’t have divisions this year. It still plans on playing a conference title game on either Dec. 12 or Dec. 19, but instead of it being a contest between the winners of the Coastal and Atlantic Divisions, it will feature the teams with the best conference records.

If the SEC were to make that same decision, it likely takes some of the juice out of the Georgia-Florida game. It would still be a huge rivalry game, and issue yet another referendum on the Kirby Smart-Dan Mullen debate. But if it’s not for the SEC East, it is a little bit less juicy of a game. It’s not as enticing to see a game between the top-two teams in the division if the result ends up putting Alabama and Texas A&M in the SEC championship game.

For years, there’s been a public push-back on the SEC adding more conference games. While the likes of the ACC, Pac-12 and Big 12 all went to nine-game slates, the SEC insisted on staying at eight games. It did make some sense, given how tough the SEC is compared to other leagues and an extra non-conference game could be the difference between a bowl game and staying home in December.

But with three of the Power Five conferences going to conference heavy slates, the SEC may have its hand forced. For one season, the league may join the rest of college football, as it tries to have some uniformity with the sport.

For Georgia, this year might be the best to have a 10-game conference schedule. Were it 2018, when the Bulldogs could’ve had to play LSU, Auburn, Texas A&M and Alabama under the proposed model, some would still be complaining about how the conference officials had out for the Bulldogs.

But it might end up helping Georgia, and especially end up hurting Florida. And for most Georgia fans, that alone might make them okay with the 10-game schedule, for just one season.

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