The Georgia Bulldogs avoided playing two of the tougher teams in the SEC during the regular season last year, LSU and Alabama, but the fact they won 12 games and gave the Crimson Tide all they could handle in the conference championship game should not be discounted.
Georgia got some good news early in the offseason when quarterback Aaron Murray decided to return for his senior season, and eight starters from last year’s offense return in 2013. Murray is a potential Heisman Trophy candidate, as is sophomore running back Todd Gurley.
Here’s my look at the Bulldogs’ 2013 schedule, as they look to enter the national title conversation.
Aug. 31- at Clemson
Clemson is a top-10 team nationally with a top quarterback in Tajh Boyd. The winner of this game could emerge as an early national title contender, particularly so if it’s a one-sided affair.
Sept. 7- vs. South Carolina
Another tough game right out of the gate for Georgia, against a Gamecocks’ squad that handled them easily (35-7) last year.
Sept. 21- vs. North Texas
Playing the Mean Green at home is a nice advantage for the Bulldogs, but this should be a blowout regardless of venue.
Sept. 28- vs. LSU
A third home game in September for Georgia, and a potential turning point in their season depending on how things have gone up to this point.
Oct. 5- at Tennessee
The Volunteers gave Georgia a test in 2012, losing by just a touchdown (51-44) on the road. An upset is possible with this game taking place in Knoxville, but I expect the Bulldogs to avoid a letdown.
Oct. 12- vs. Missouri
Georgia beat Missouri fairly handily last year (41-20), and a similar result should come here.
Oct. 19- at Vanderbilt
The Commodores won nine games in 2012, including seven straight wins to end their season. Still, the Bulldogs beat them 48-3 last year and have better overall talent.
Nov. 2- vs. Florida (in Jacksonville)
Murray threw three interceptions in the first half of last year’s game, helping the Gators hang around in a 17-9 win for the Bulldogs. A better performance from the senior signal caller could yield a decisive victory this year.
Nov. 9- vs. Appalachian State
Georgia gets a break from a tough schedule starting here. The outcome of this game should not be in doubt for long.
Nov. 16- at Auburn
The Bulldogs shut out the Tigers last year, 38-0, and I don’t expect anything different this year.
Nov. 23- vs. Kentucky
A third straight game against a clearly inferior team that the Bulldogs should win easily. There’s not much else to say.
Nov. 30- at Georgia Tech
The annual rivalry game against the Yellow Jackets is never easy, though last year’s result (a 42-10 win for Georgia) is not indicative of that.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.