Head coach: Kirby Smart (fourth year)
Last year’s record: 11-3 (7-1 SEC), Sugar Bowl loss against Texas, 28-21
Final AP ranking: No. 7
Recruiting Ranking: No. 2 (5 5-stars, 15 4-stars, 4 3-stars)
First game: Aug. 31 at Vanderbilt (futures available on BetAmerica)
O/U win total: 10.5
Kirby Smart has built a formidable football program at the University of Georgia. The only team he can’t seem to get past, though, is the one he used to coach for in Tuscaloosa.
Last year Georgia dominated nearly all of its competition but faltered against LSU in the regular season with a 36-16 road loss. Then the Bulldogs had to face Alabama, which pulled off a three-point overtime victory over Georgia in the 2017-18 national championship game. In last year’s SEC championship, Alabama had a slightly easier time against Georgia in a 35-28 win. Following yet another defeat by Nick Saban’s squad, the Bulldogs closed out the season with a surprising 28-21 loss to Texas in the Sugar Bowl.
There is still some hope Georgia can get over the hump and make a return to the national title game. The Bulldogs have the No. 2 recruiting class in the nation—second only to Alabama.
UGA will also return junior quarterback Jake Fromm (2,761 yards, 30 touchdowns) and one of the strongest offensive lines in the country. The Bulldogs will need to find a replacement for center Lamont Gaillard, leading receivers Mecole Hardman, (529 yards, six TDs) and Riley Ridley (509 yards, nine TDs) and tight end Isaac Nauta (427 yards, three TDs).
Tailback Elijah Holyfield (956 yards, seven TDs) left early for the NFL, which leaves D’Andre Swift (1,037 yards, 10 TDs) to command the run game. Georgia must find more depth at running back and will look for a healthy Zamir White and 4-star recruit Kenny McIntosh to develop in the offseason.
On defense Georgia suffered two losses in cornerback Deandre Baker, the Jim Thorpe Award winner, and defensive end Jonathan Ledbetter. Junior college transfer Jermaine Johnson and ESPN’s No. 2 defensive end Nolan Smith will enter their first season at Georgia and could help bolster an already-solid defense.
Two more changes Georgia will face in 2019 is the promotion of James Coley to offensive coordinator following Jim Chaney’s departure for Tennessee, and outside linebackers coach Dan Lanning stepping up as defense coordinator after Mel Tucker left to head Colorado.
Win total: Under 10.5 (+150), Over 10.5 (-180)
Aside from a September showdown against Notre Dame, Georgia’s toughest games all come in the month of November. The Bulldogs play Florida in Jacksonville to kick off the month, then host Missouri, travel to Auburn and take on Texas A&M at home. Look for Georgia to slip up in one of those contests, but overall the Bulldogs will win 11. Go with the over.
Georgia vs. Florida, Nov. 2
Florida comes off a 10-win season and will enter 2019 as a top 10 program. Last year Georgia defeated Florida 36-17 in Jacksonville. This year Florida will have to face the Bulldogs in the River City following back-to-back road games against LSU and South Carolina. The rivalry game should be close, but Georgia will cover the -4.5 spread.
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