Georgia’s football team will open up SEC play in 2012 against a team with a quarterback named James Franklin (from Missouri) and then play its second league game against a team (Vanderbilt) coached by James Franklin.
There is one FBS team on the schedule that won more than eight games this season: 11-2 South Carolina.
By now, you know the teams that Georgia again won’t face: defending national champion Alabama, LSU and Arkansas.
Georgia’s opponents went a combined 64-74 this past season, not including FCS program Georgia Southern. Six opponents are coming off losing seasons.
Here’s a look at Georgia’s 2012 schedule:
Sept. 1 vs. Buffalo (3-9)—After having all offseason to gear up for a national TV game against Boise State, the Bulldogs this time around get the Bulls from the Mid-American Conference. Tennessee knocked them off 41-10 this past season in Knoxville.
Sept. 8 at Missouri (8-5)—Georgia opens its Southeastern Conference season with another trip to Columbia. Only this time it’s the first ever SEC game for the Tigers, who ended 2011 with a four-game winning streak. Quarterback James Franklin, who rushed for 142 yards and two touchdowns in a 41-24 Independence Bowl win over North Carolina, will be a junior.
Sept. 15 vs. Florida Atlantic (1-11)—Howard Schnellenberger’s retirement took away the matchup of Mark Richt against his former University of Miami coach, but Richt has said he expects him to still be at the game since he’ll remain a fundraiser for the school. Nebraska defensive coordinator Carl Pellini replaced Schnellenberger. The Owls lost by an average of 21.8 points per game.
Sept. 22 vs. Vanderbilt (6-7)—Losing in the Liberty Bowl to finish with a sub-.500 record has a different feeling in Nashville than it did in Athens last January. Commodores coach James Franklin makes his first visit to Athens after his postgame confrontation with Bulldogs defensive coordinator Todd Grantham this past season. The Commodores lose cornerback Casey Hayward (15 career interceptions) and linebacker Chris Marve.
Sept. 29 vs.Tennessee (5-7)—This looks to be a critical season for third-year Vols coach Derek Dooley, coming off a 1-7 SEC record that included a season-ending 10-7 loss to Kentucky, which ended a 26-game losing streak. A healthy Tyler Bray would help. Dooley will be looking for a new defensive coordinator. Justin Wilcox left for Washington, but receiver Da’Rick Rogers remains in good standing despite speculation otherwise.
Oct. 6 at South Carolina (11-2)—The Bulldogs and Gamecocks will play a non-September game for the first time sinceGeorgia’s 1980 national championship season. A win against the Gamecocks appears to be the biggest hurdle in repeating as SEC East champions for Georgia. South Carolina, which lost juniors Alshon Jeffery and Stephen Gilmore to the NFL, plays LSU and Arkansas from the West. Georgia has lost two in a row to the Gamecocks, which won 11 games for the first time in program history.
Oct. 20 at Kentucky (5-7)—Questions about the job security of coach Joker Phillips will surround him entering this season. The Wildcats are 4-12 in the SEC in two seasons under Phillips. Georgia gets the Wildcats after an open date. The Bulldogs have beaten the Wildcats by nine, 13 and four points in their last three wins and lost to them in 2009.
Oct. 27 vs. Florida (7-6) in Jacksonville—Second-year Gators coach Will Muschamp will have a new offensive coordinator (Boise State’s Brent Pease is being mentioned) after Charlie Weis left to become head coach at Kansas. The Gators went 2-6 to close the regular season, but avoided the program’s first losing season since 1979 with a Gator Bowl win over OhioState. The Bulldogs will look for back-to-back wins against the Gators for the first time since winning three in a row in 1987-89. Florida loses speedsters Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps.
Nov. 3 vs. Ole Miss (2-10)—Hugh Freeze replaces Houston Nutt as Rebels’ coach. Nutt guided Arkansas State to a 10-2 record and the Sun Belt championship last season. “We will go very fast,” Freeze said of his offense. “We have three speeds and we like to go the fastest a lot..” He’ll be doing it at a school that went winless in the SEC and lost 10 games for the first time in program history.
Nov. 10 at Auburn (8-5)—Hello again Brian VanGorder. The Bulldogs’ defensive coordinator from 2001-04 was hired this week by Gene Chizik to replace Ted Roof. The Tigers will have two new coordinators after offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn replaced Freeze at Arkansas State. The Tigers headed into the offseason with a 43-24 win over Virginia in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. Tailback Michael Dyer is gone, expected to land at Arkansas State with Malzahn.
Nov. 17 at Georgia Southern (11-3)—Are you ready for two straight weeks of triple-option offense? It should be good preparation for the season finale against Georgia Tech. The Eagles are coming off their second straight trip to the FCS semifinals under former Yellow Jackets assistant Jeff Monken
Nov. 24 vs. Georgia Tech (8-5)—Georgia Tech blew a 14-point fourth-quarter lead and lost in overtime in the Sun Bowl to Utah 30-27. Quarterback Tevin Washington for his senior season. The Yellow Jackets have to fix special teams issues just like Georgia, which is 10-1 against Tech under Mark Richt.
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