Prediction: 10-2 SEC East Champions
10-2 would definitely be a major jump from an 8-5 year but the schedule works out nicely. Appalachian State is the perfect team to play before a trip to Notre Dame. It will not be the normal squash match you expect from SEC vs. Sun Belt games. The Mountaineers are good, they almost beat Tennessee last year and they’ll be just as good in 2017.
Georgia is going to have to work to beat them. The Bulldogs will get tested, they’ll have to reach into their depth chart and they won’t be able to coast. But that means that with a win they’ll be very prepared for Notre Dame. They’ll know what to work on in the following week but they’ll also have the confidence that comes with a 1-0 record.
With Samford and Mississippli State coming the following weeks, Georgia should start the season 4-0.
But then we get to the middle of the season, where Georgia historically struggles the most. The next four games include Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Missouri and Florida.
Believe it or not, I think Vanderbilt has the best chance at beating Georgia. The Commodores are the perfect foil for this Georgia squad because of their defense and Georgia’s receiving corps. Unless that group develops quickly, Jacob Eason will likely go another year without that every-down consistent target at wide receiver. Terry Godwin, Riley Ridley and company have potential, but they aren’t Chris Conley or Micheal Bennett yet.
Everyone Georgia plays in that four game stretch has the ability to take advantage of that. But since Vanderbilt has the best defense of the four and Georgia may be coming off their second major victory at Tennessee, the Commodores are in a good spot to pull of the upset.
However, that four game stretch could go in a variety of ways. I believe Georgia will fall once in the middle of the year and I think Vandy has the best shot of being that loss. But it could just as easily be Tennessee, Missouri or Florida.
This will be the toughest final four game stretch Georgia has had for a while because of South Carolina getting moved further away from their usual spot of being Georgia’s SEC opener. But Muschamp is not ready to go into Athens to beat Georgia, not with this team at least. They’ll play well, but Georgia should pull away late.
Auburn will probably be the team that spoils Georgia’s playoff hopes. The Bulldogs have dominated the Tigers since 2006, but both of Auburn’s wins have come on the plains. Auburn improved a ton in 2016, they’re actually playing defense now and they should finally have their offense figured out enough in 2017 to make a run at Alabama in the west.
Georgia should beat Kentucky and they haven’t lost consecutive game to Georgia Tech since 1998-2000. A much better Georgia team should defeat Tech in 2017.