There will be a lot of familiar faces as Georgia and Arkansas square off in the 2020 season opener Saturday afternoon in Fayetteville. The Razorbacks have a new head coach, Sam Pittman, who served as the Bulldogs offensive line coach from 2016-2019 under Kirby Smart’s watch.
Both teams will have new quarterbacks and coordinators. The Razorbacks new signal caller is Florida transfer Feleipe Franks, who was a two-year starter for the Gators, but was injured early last season.
Who the Bulldogs starting quarterback will be is the big question for the red and black faithful. It’s one of several for the highly ranked Bulldogs, who return a vast majority of a stout defense, but must replace some of the most decorated players in Georgia lore – including quarterback Jake Fromm, running back D’Andre Swift, left tackle Andrew Thomas and place kicker Rodrigo Blankenship.
Georgia comes into the game ranked fourth nationally, one of six Southeastern Conference teams in the top ten and one of eight in the top 25. This is the start of an unprecedented 10-game SEC only grind for the Bulldogs, Razorbacks and all of the league’s teams in the wake of the events of 2020.
These two teams last met in 2014 in Little Rock. Georgia jumped to a 38-6 halftime lead and held on to win 45-32. The Bulldogs and Razorbacks last played in Fayetteville in 2009, with Georgia pulling out a 52-41 shootout.
This will be the 15th meeting between these two proud programs, with Georgia leading the all-time series 10-4. The Bulldogs have never lost in Arkansas. The Razorbacks won the first two games, the 1969 Sugar Bowl and 1976 Cotton Bowl. The Bulldogs won the 1987 Liberty Bowl over the Hogs on John Kasay’s last second field goal, and then toppled the Hogs in the 1991 Independence Bowl.
Arkansas joined the SEC in 1992, and the Bulldogs won in the Razorbacks inaugural campaign 27-3 in Fayetteville. The Hogs have twice won in Athens, defeating Georgia between the hedges in 1993 and 2010. The most significant match-up was the 2002 SEC Championship Game. Georgia posted an impressive 30-3 triumph to capture the program’s first conference title in 20 years.
If there is to be any hope of an SEC title in 2020 for the Bulldogs, it’s a pretty safe bet that a victory in Fayetteville is absolutely essential. The Razorbacks went just 2-10 in each of the last two seasons, and were 0-8 in the league in 2018 and 2019. There is hope from the Arkansas faithful that things will turn good again under Pittman’s watch.
Smart, in his fifth season at the helm of his alma mater, has driven Georgia back into the nation’s elite. The Bulldogs won 36 games and made three straight SEC Championship Games from 2017-2019.The quest for greatness in 2020 begins Saturday in Arkansas.