With the 2020 University of Georgia football season pretty much behind us, now is as good a time as any to take inventory of the program.
Personally I find myself to have been in a state of Dawg denial. No, not the river in Egypt. I've thought since the 2017 season that UGA belonged in the top tier with college football’s elite — Alabama and Clemson. The truth is that the Bulldogs are really a tier, or maybe even two, below that. This season gave me a wakeup call akin to that of Charles Dickens’ Ebenezer Scrooge. Thankfully it didn’t take visits from three Christmas spirits for me to see the light, just some really bad quarterback play.
Before the season I made predictions for each game, so now’s the time to revisit those predictions and hold myself accountable. Keep in mind that transfer quarterback Jamie Newman had not yet announced his decision to sit out when these predictions were made, so a little leeway would be appreciated.
Game 1 prediction: Georgia 35, Arkansas 17
Actual result: Georgia 37, Arkansas 10
Not too shabby for a season opener. What no one could have predicted though, was D’Wan Mathis laying an egg and having to be replaced by former walk-on Stetson Bennett. The move worked that week, but it turned out that the real man for the job was still waiting in the wings.
Game 2 prediction: Georgia 27, Auburn 17
Actual result: Georgia 27, Auburn 6
Auburn had no offensive identity at this point in the season and arguably never found it. Now the program is looking for a new head coach after years of Gus Malzahn having been on the hot seat. While the Tigers are a bitter rival I’d like to take this opportunity to lend a little offensive advice: give the football to Tank Bigsby.
Game 3 prediction: Georgia 30, Tennessee 24
Actual result: Georgia 44, Tennessee 21
I, like many others, was drinking the macaroni orange Tennessee Kool-Aid leading up to this season. We were wrong. This game in Athens was tight through halftime, but the Dawgs won the second half 27-0 to keep up their recent dominance in the series.
Game 4 prediction: Georgia 21, Alabama 17
Actual result: Alabama 41, Georgia 24
Well I was close on one team’s score, but missed the game result by a mile. Alabama did what Alabama does, which is get calls it doesn’t deserve, and Georgia had a defensive back trip over a yard line, allowing the Tide a huge scoring play. This was the beginning of the end of Stetson Bennett’s hold over the UGA starting QB job.
Game 5 prediction: Georgia 42, Kentucky 13
Actual result: Georgia 14, Kentucky 3
Ugly ballgame that was tough to watch. Zamir White was good while Bennett had only four passes go for incompletions. The bad news for him was that two of those wound up in Kentucky’s hands, continuing the downward trend for the stand-in.
Game 6 prediction: Georgia 28, Florida 20
Actual result: Florida 44, Georgia 28
Just like the Alabama game, the Dawgs’ score was correct but the game result was not. I underestimated Kyles Trask and Pitts. This one stung more than the Alabama loss as it cut Georgia off from returning to Atlanta, and it was the final straw for Mr. Bennett.
Game 7 prediction: Georgia 45, Mississippi State 21
Actual result: Georgia 31, Mississippi State 24
Some schedule shuffling made this game sooner than planned. Something that also should have happened sooner was putting Southern Cal transfer JT Daniels into the starting QB role. Seeing his first action in over a year, he threw for 400 yards and four touchdowns while completing passes to eight different receivers. The job is his next year barring a really strong showing by an incoming highly-touted freshman.
Game 8 prediction: Georgia 31, South Carolina 10
Actual result: Georgia 45, South Carolina 16
The Gamecocks were reeling from having just lost their head coach in addition to players opting out for the season. The result was a therapeutic mudhole-stomping after last year’s embarrassing upset loss.
Game 9 prediction: Georgia 34, Missouri 13
Actual result: Georgia 49, Missouri 14
Another great game by Daniels at QB coupled with a strong rushing effort from Zamir White provided a nice regular-season finale in a game no one knew would be the regular-season finale.
Game 10 prediction: Georgia 52, Vanderbilt 14
Actual result: Canceled