The first huge drop off in experience and leadership since Richt has started his run. Quentin Moses is really the only returning "star" this year. There may be other great players, but he's the only one universally known around the SEC for being a stud. UGA's schedule never seems to differ too much in difficulty, partly because of the Jacksonville game each year, so they technically avoid two tough road trips in a given year usually. I don't think there is any doubt that UGA has talent, but to win the SEC you have generally need an experienced QB and lines on both side of the ball, and a favorable schedule.
Sept 2 Western Kentucky W: I've had the opportunity to watch the Hilltoppers play in Auburn the last couple of years and they are anything but a force to be reckoned with. It's exciting as a casual fan to see a great matchup the first weekend of the season, but personally I would always open my season like this and play the blockbuster game in week 2. Great chance to give the QB's and RB's some reps and get a feel for who you actually want to use. Unfortunately the secondary won't be tested by WKU's predominatly ground based attack.
Sept 9 @ South Carolina W: I think it's been documented that the Gamecocks usually make this a tight game, as well as Spurrier's psychological advantage over UGA (fans only though). USC should come out fired up in front of a home crowd, but I get the feeling that Tereshinski will be playing at this point and a conservative offense might actually be just what they need to win. As I stated all of last year, Kregg Lumpkin is the best of the tailbacks and should get most of the carries. Plus he should be fully recovered from his knee injury by now and be more of a force. I would only use Danny Ware for power yards and tell Thomas Brown to fetch me some water and be ready if someone gets hurt. Anyway, I see UGA getting burned for a couple of touchdowns but holding steady and winning another nail biter.
Sept 16 Alabama-Birmingham W: It's been typical in recent years for UGA to play games like this too close, but yet they always emmerge with a win. 3-0 goes a long way towards building some confidence.
Sept 23 Colorado W: The Buffaloes playing Arizona St. the week before then travel cross country to take on the dawgs. Not an ideal situation for your fourth game under a new coaching staff. On the plus side, it's possible that CU football players will carry on their recent track record and hit up Topper's after the game. I can't imagine Dan Hawkins is too excited to return to Athens after he got demolished with Boise St. last year. He should theoretically have better athletes and be able to produce a better score, but I'm guessing he'll still pick up an L.
Sept 30 @ Ole Miss W: If UGA overlooks this game it could be a tough one. I don't expect the Rebels to have a ton of offensive production, but I"m guessing their defense will stay decent as long as Coach O is there. Brent Schaeffer has no tools around him, and UGA should at least be able score 21 points. I hate that none of my UGA friends are going to this game as far as I know. The Grove is not the best tailgating around, but it's definitely one of the most interesting. Pretty much the biggest outdoor club/bar in the world is the best way to describe it. There are no cars, every tent is set up 1 inch away from the next one so they have to block off "streets" so you can walk around. Very surreal.
Oct 7 Tennessee W: I was one of those people absolutely shocked when the Vols pulled out the win in Athens two years ago. I had just watched Auburn destroy them in Knoxville the week before and Erik Ainge looked like a deer in the headlights, while at the same time UGA was absolutely killing LSU. In reality, things just unravelled for UT and they lost their composure against possibly the greatest Auburn team ever. Nick Saban for some reason decided to become a stubborn ass and let one brilliant adjustment by Richt, torch him all day long. Why he never decided to switch to a zone is beyond me. Even teams like UAB managed to stay close with UGA that year by forcing them to run the ball and throw underneath. As for 2006, I think UT is going to be improved but I'm not sure about their running game and I just don't see Ainge winning two in a row in Sanford Stadium. Plus I'm still pissed off about that crap TD that Tennessee got at the end of the game last year to cover the spread, which should have been reviewed by the officials, but since the game ended with the play, they didn't bother.
Oct 14 Vanderbilt W: What would happen if the Commodore actually let Steve Martin coach them on the sidelines instead of Bobby Johnson? Would anyone notice? I can't imagine it would have a huge difference on the score of this game.
Oct 21 Mississippi State W: When does UGA have to play LSU or bama again? Enough with the Mississippi teams.
Oct 28 Florida in Jacksonville L: How close are we to seeing an end to neutral site rivalry games. Thankfully the Iron Bowl ended years ago. For those of you who don't know, Legion Field is a dump, and it was a ridiculous advantage for bama. Around 80% of the tickets were split equally between both teams with 20% going to city officials or some BS like that. Which sucked because almost all of the city officials were bama fans. So it was always a bama heavy crowd. I get the feeling that Jacksonville is the same way. I know a ton of Georgia fans go, but when I went there definitely seemed to be a lot more Florida fans walking around. Texas/OU actually seems pretty evenly split. Anyways, the Dawgs always seem to be a disadvantage and find some way to lose this game whether they are the more talented team or not. I see Chris Leak doing whatever it takes to go out on top.
Nov. 4 @ Kentucky W: Another road trip I thoroughly enjoyed. Lexington is a cool little town, the stadium is easy to get to, and the fans weren't of the "shit talking" variety. I don't see an elite team losing there anytime soon though unless a big time injury goes down. And you better be careful with that stuff around horse racing fans. You wouldn't want Matthew Stafford getting euthanized after spraining his ankle.
Nov 11 @ Auburn L: The South's Oldest rivalry which started way back in 1892 back in Piedmont Park. On that day my great uncle Jessie Culver scored the second and final touchdown the winning cause. This was also the day that the War Eagle war cry started. And Auburn fans in Atlanta have savored each win over UGA ever since. I could be wrong, but it seems like if Auburn won this one it would be 6 of the last 8 against Georgia. Not too shabby. This should be a huge CBS game with two top 15 teams slugging it out. I think Auburn's offense will be too balanced for UGA to handle much like it was 2 years ago.
Nov 25 Georgia Tech W: Has anyone enjoyed Reggie Ball's career more than Georgia fans? This would be a huge redemption for him, but what has he ever shown that would lead you to believe that this will be the year. Some QB's just never seem to get better. I kept thinking that Romero Miller would eventually become a better QB at Ole Miss, but it never happened. Though sometimes, people like Jason Campbell finally get all the pieces around them and finally flourish. If it was in Atlanta I'd give Tech a shot, but UGA has to win this one. They won't be willing to go 1-3 against their biggest rivals.
10-2 Not bad for a rebuilding year. Worst case scenario is probably 9-3. I just don't think you can go through that many big games with an untested QB and not lose a couple. Pretty much the scenario Auburn was in last year. We had a lot of pieces and a QB in Brandon Cox who was older, but really hadn't been thrown into the fire. So he gets overwhelmed against Tech in the opener, struggles a little bit against LSU, and then really struggles after a break and comes out rusty against Wisconsin in a bowl game. Not a bad year, just not a championship year.