There is a little bit of bad and a whole lotta good when it comes to Georgia’s 2021 football schedule. The Bulldogs are coming off an 8-2 season and will have a lot of new faces on the defensive side of the ball that will need time to gel. On offense, eight returning starters come back from a unit that averaged 32 points per game and has one of the elite quarterbacks in the country in JT Daniels.
But the bad news comes right off the bat, where the Bulldogs have drawn national power Clemson as their opening day opponent. Oof. Not exactly a soft way to ease into the season, is it? The Tigers won’t have Trevor Lawrence at the controls anymore, but in his two starts and spot duty last year, D.J. Uiagalelei proved he would be the next great All-American candidate at the controls. Facing the Tiger offense with just five returning defensive starters is going to be a little bit of a problem for them Hairy Dawgs. Ironically the Bulldogs have won seven straight season openers. The last time they lost game one? In 2013, to Clemson, 38-35.
But now for the good news. The SEC slate couldn’t be easier. (Weird to hear that, I know.) Really, the East is going to be much weaker than the West as Florida is the only other SEC East team that is found in the preseason top 25. On top of that, the Bulldogs also avoid the three best teams in the SEC West as Alabama, Texas A&M and LSU are not on the schedule for 2021.
If the Junkyard dogs can pull off the upset of Clemson in week one, an undefeated regular season is not out of the question. But, that is a big “if” there.
Georgia Football Game-by-Game Predictions for 2021
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
Defense (as usual) is going to be a strength for Georgia in 2021. However, it’s the other side of the ball that makes Kirby Smart’s team a national championship contender this fall. Quarterback JT Daniels sparked the offense over the last four games of ’20, and a loaded group of receivers should give the Bulldogs plenty of opportunities to stretch the field in the passing game. Modernizing the offense and deploying the passing attack more was a priority for coordinator Todd Monken last fall, and a normal offseason to work with the roster should allow this group to take their production up a notch. The schedule is extremely favorable. Yes, the SEC is always challenging, but Georgia does not play any of the projected top four – Alabama, Texas A&M, LSU or Ole Miss – in crossover play and Kentucky and Missouri both come to Athens. The first matchup of the season against Clemson is a toss-up, but even if the Bulldogs fall in that game, Smart’s program will have a chance to get back into playoff contention by winning the SEC championship.
Mark Ross (@AthlonMarkR)
Georgia didn't win the SEC East last season but it's not like the Bulldogs were horrible either as the only two losses came to the two teams that played for the conference title. This season, there's no Alabama on the schedule (Arkansas is the other SEC West crossover opponent, along with traditional foe Auburn) and Florida has lost a lot of that offensive firepower that overwhelmed the Bulldogs' defense in 2020. Georgia also didn't have quarterback JT Daniels for that game and I think he alone will be quite the difference-maker, not that the defense won't do its part. Honestly, if the big showdown with Clemson wasn't the opener, I would be more inclined to have Kirby Smart's Dawgs run the table. But as it is, I think his inexperienced defense won't be quite up to speed against the ACC champs, who boast a pretty staunch defense of their own. After that, the only games that really give you pause are the trip to Jordan-Hare to face Auburn and the annual visit to Jacksonville. No one needs to remind Georgia what happened last time out against the Gators, so I fully expect the Bulldogs to exact a little payback on their way to reclaiming the division and most likely earning another shot at the Crimson Tide.
Eric Sorenson (@Stitch_Head)
I know, I know, the Silver Britches are ranked in the preseason at No. 5. But I feel that if the Clemson game were to come four or five weeks into the season, I would feel better about their chances of getting the W. I just think they’ll hit their stride after a few games into this season, especially on defense where six new faces will be in the starting lineup. Taking on the Tigers in week one is not a great draw this year. After that, the road to Jacksonville is pretty clear. A trip to Auburn could be tricky but my analysis is that the Dogs will take the next six games without much of a sweat before their showdown with the Gators. And by that time I’m predicting JT Daniels will have established himself as a Heisman front-runner (take note of that and remind me that I was right when November comes around). Also, while Missouri, Tennessee and Georgia Tech will all be improved, I can’t imagine they’ll be any legit threat to the Bulldogs and their pursuit of the college football playoff. The SEC Championship Game? Now yes, THAT will be another tough draw and should decide the fate of their season.