The Georgia Bulldogs finished up the 2015 regular season with a record of 10-3. For most schools that would be considered a successful year.
That wasn’t the case for the Bulldogs, who failed to win the SEC East for a third straight year. Georgia got off to a 4-1 start, but their season took a turn for the worse at Tennessee.
The Bulldogs lost star running back Nick Chubb on the first play of the game and blew a 24-3 lead in a 31-38 defeat. They would bounce back with a 9-6 win over Missouri at home, but followed it up with a 3-27 blowout loss to Florida.
They went on to win their final 5 games, including a 24-17 win over Penn State in the Taxslayer Bowl. It wasn’t enough to save head coach Mark Richt’s job.
Richt was let go after 15 years and a 145-51 record. Georgia replaced Richt with Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart. It was considered a great hire by many, but Smart doesn’t have any head coaching experience. He will take over a team that returns 14 starters and a clear threat to win the East.
|Date||Opponent||Spread (Est.)||Win Chance|
|9/3||North Carolina (Atlanta)|
|9/24||@ Ole Miss|
|10/8||@ South Carolina|
|Estimated Wins: TBD|
*We take the win chance by using the college football win percentage chart for each point spread.
The opener against North Carolina in Atlanta will be a great test for the Bulldogs. The Tar Heels won the ACC Coastal and gave Clemson a run for their money in the ACC title game. They have 14 starters coming back but lost star quarterback Marquise Williams.
After a cupcake game against Nicholls, Georgia hits the road for two conference games. First up is Missouri, who they will be expected to beat.
The real test comes the following week at Ole Miss, which is a tough spot with a huge game against Tennessee on deck. The game against the Volunteers could very well decide the SEC East. Tennessee is the favorite to win the division.
The rest of the schedule sets up nicely for the Bulldogs. Their only other true road games are against Kentucky and South Carolina. All eyes will be on the Florida game and how Georgia bounces back from last year’s embarrassing loss. They also have difficult home games against Auburn and Georgia Tech.
Georgia’s offensive production took a massive hit once Chubb was out for the year. They finished up averaging just 26.3 ppg and that was after averaging 45.5 ppg in their first 5 games. A dramatic drop from the 41.3 ppg they put in in 2014.
The good news is that Chubb is back for his junior year and 7 other starters return with him. With Chubb healthy and 3 starters back on the 0-line, the running game should be dominant.
While Georgia gets back starting quarterback Graysom Lambert, he’s not expected to start. All signs point to the Bulldogs turning to true freshman Jacob Easton, who was the #1 rated QB recruit.
The Bulldogs lose their top receiver in Malcolm Mitchell, but have plenty of talent to work with. That includes returning starters Terry Godwin and Reggie Davis.
Just how good the offense is will come down to Easton and whether he can live up to the hype. Most importantly he’s got to take care of the football.
If the offense comes into form look out. Smart is a defensive guru and takes over a Georgia defense that returns 6 starters from a unit that allowed just 16.9 ppg. In his 8 year tenure at Alabama, Smart’s defense ranked in the Top 10 seven times.
If there’s a concern with the defense, it’s how they replace the talent lost along the front seven. The only starters returning are defensive tackle Trenton Thompson and linebacker Tim Kimbrough. On the bright side, Georgia has all kinds of talent ready to step in and make an immediate impact.
The strength of the defense will be the secondary, which returns all four starters. The leader of the group being junior free safety Dominick Sanders. He led the team with 6 interceptions and was 6th with 48 tackles.
Regular Season Win Total
SEC East Odds
SEC Championship Odds
National Championship Odds
Odds Courtesy of 5Dimes
*Odds updated live on our college football odds page
It almost feels like Georgia is getting overlooked in the SEC East this year. Tennessee has been the talk of the division and Florida is the defending champs. It doesn’t help matters that the Bulldogs lost to both teams last year.
While I’m on the Volunteer bandwagon, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if it was the Bulldogs on top. If Georgia can sneak out a win at Ole Miss, hold off Tennessee at home and take care of Florida, they have a realistic shot at running the table.
That’s more of the dream scenario. Chances are they will lose a couple games and end up right about where they were in 2015. As much as I like Smart and the hype around Easton, winning in the SEC is not easy. Especially when you have a new head coach and freshman signal caller.
Luckily the oddsmakers have their win total at just 8.5, a mark I think they will have no problem eclipsing.
Win Total Prediction