The Georgia Bulldogs had one roadblock last season, and it was the same roadblock they had a season before: Alabama. The 2017 Georgia team almost won the national championship but then lost to Alabama in a close, hard-fought title game. Alabama went into overtime and was close to defeat, but produced a 41-yard touchdown on second and 26. Georgia was this close to its first national title since 1980, but Alabama denied the Dawgs. Then last year, Georgia led Alabama by two touchdowns in the SEC Championship Game. Georgia was about to return to the College Football Playoff and earn a likely shot at the national title once again. However, Alabama stormed back in the fourth quarter to steal a win from the stunned Bulldogs. This has been a great program over the past few years. Alabama is its only real hurdle.
Regular Season Win Total: 10.5 Wins
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Changes From Last Season
The Bulldogs lost receiver Mecole Hardman, a speedburner who is now with the Kansas City Chiefs as the likely replacement for the now-disgraced Tyreek Hill. Georgia also lost DeAndre Baker from its secondary, Riley Ridley from its receiver corps, and D’Andre Walker, an edge rusher on last season’s team. Beyond the player losses from last season, head coach Kirby Smart also lost both coordinators, Jim Chaney on offense and Mel Tucker on defense. Chaney went to Tennessee to get the same position under former Georgia assistant coach Jeremy Pruitt. Tucker went to the University of Colorado to become the new head coach of the Buffaloes. Player shufflings and coaching transitions have both figured prominently in this team’s offseason, which raises plenty of questions for 2019.
2019 X-Factor: James Coley
Georgia’s defense should be fine even with a new coordinator, because Kirby Smart is a former defensive coordinator who can coach the defense and make sure Georgia doesn’t lose a step on that side of the ball. However, it is less certain if Georgia has the right man calling plays on offense, and that’s where James Coley comes in. He had worked at the University of Miami and did not do an especially great job developing the Hurricanes’ passing attack. People will wonder if he is the right man for the job and the person who can continue to develop UGA quarterback Jake Fromm, who is one of the leading contenders for the Heisman Trophy this season. Coley will have a lot to do with how well this team does this season.
The Bulldogs have to play Notre Dame in a non-conference game, but that game will be at home in Athens, so Georgia still figures to win that clash. Georgia plays one of its two SEC West Division crossover games against Texas A&M, but that is a home game as well. Georgia will get its toughest tests from Notre Dame, A&M, Florida and Auburn. Of those four games, only Auburn is a road game. Florida is a neutral-site game. Even if Georgia loses to Alabama in the SEC title game, it should still be able to get to 11 wins in the regular season.
Prediction: Over 10.5 wins
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