Heading into the 2019 season with high hopes and great expectations, third-ranked Georgia opens the campaign and Southeastern Conference play against Vanderbilt in Nashville Saturday night.
Over the last two years, Georgia has been one of the country’s most successful teams, posting successive 11-1 regular-season records. The Bulldogs won the SEC title and Rose Bowl and then played for the national championship in 2017. Last season, Georgia fell in the SEC Championship Game then put forth a disappointing performance in a Sugar Bowl loss to Texas after just missing out on a second straight College Football Playoff berth.
A return to the playoff followed by two more wins is the ultimate goal for Georgia, but the schedule is typically tough, and it starts with the opener against the Commodores.
Vanderbilt made its second bowl trip in three years last season, finishing 6-7 in 2018. Amongst the highlights for the Commodores over that stretch is a three-game winning streak over in-state foe Tennessee.
The two head coaches for Saturday night’s SEC showdown, Kirby Smart and Derek Mason have great mutual respect for one another, and both have defensive backgrounds, so both stop-units figure to be strong. Georgia and Vanderbilt both boast an impressive list of returning offensive standouts, highlighted by two of the SEC’s top tailbacks, Georgia’s D’Andre Swift and Vanderbilt’s Ke’Shawn Vaughn.
As is often the case, the team that runs the football better is a good bet to secure the win, whether that’s the home underdog or the highly ranked road favorite.
One of Mason’s signature wins was a 17-16 upset of Georgia in Athens in 2016. That was Smart’s first season at the Georgia helm. The last two years, the Bulldogs dominated the Commodores, winning 45-14 in Nashville in 2017 and then 41-13 between the hedges last season.
Those two wins over Vanderbilt have characterized the Bulldogs stellar play under Smart’s watch the last two years. In 22 of Georgia’s 24 victories in 2017-2018, the Bulldogs won by at least 14 points. Along the way, the Bulldogs posted a combined 12-0 record against SEC East foes in ‘17 and ‘18.
Smart’s Bulldogs have overlooked no team the last two seasons, and the oddsmakers in the desert have Georgia favored by 20 points. Mason’s Commodores aim to sink the Bulldogs championship dreams straight out of the gate.
The simple motto of “Do More” has been the catchphrase for Georgia throughout the offseason. So close to the national championship of 2017 and a second straight SEC title a year ago, the Bulldogs are hungry to get over the top.
Taking care of business, winning the games the Bulldogs “are supposed to win,” that’s a must to get the opportunity to play for championships.
It’s been a long wait since New Orleans, now finally the 2019 season is here.