SEC slates: Georgia

The biggest problem with Georgia's 2009 football schedule is that it plays Tennessee Tech in Game 9 instead of Game 1.

A team rebuilding its offense after losing first-round NFL Draft picks at quarterback (Matthew Stafford) and tailback (Knowshon Moreno), plus a quality receiver (Mohamed Massaquoi), a rugged fullback (Brannan Southerland) and a fine tight end (Tripp Chandler) needs to face a sacrificial lamb in its opener, and Tennessee Tech certainly qualifies.

Playing in the Football Championship Subdivision, the Golden Eagles went 3-8 last fall with a 51-10 blowout loss at the hands of Louisville, the only Football Bowl Subdivision team they faced.

Instead of Tennessee Tech, however, the Bulldogs will be playing their 2009 opener against Oklahoma State, a preseason top-10 team coming off a 2008 season in which it averaged 487.7 yards and 40.8 points per game. Worse, the game is AT Oklahoma State.

Given how potent Oklahoma State's offense is and how suspect Georgia's offense is, the Dawgs could be reeling from a Game 1 loss when they host South Carolina in their home opener on Sept. 12. And, with a Game 3 visit to Arkansas on tap, an 0-3 start is not outside the realm of possibility.

Mark Richt's canines also plays road games at Tennessee, at Vanderbilt and at Georgia Tech (which beat them last fall in Athens). Of course, there's also the annual SEC showdown with Florida in Jacksonville, supposedly a "neutral site."

If you throw out Tennessee Tech, Georgia's other non-conference foes – Oklahoma State (9-4), Georgia Tech (9-4) and Arizona State (5-7) – combined to go 23-15 last fall. Considering that OSU and Tech are road games, it's quite possible the Dawgs could suffer a couple of setbacks outside the league this season.

And, as always, the SEC portion of the schedule is fraught with peril. In addition to its five Eastern Division rivals, Georgia must face Arkansas, LSU and Auburn from the Western Division. All three teams project to be significantly better than last season.

Moreover, what projects to be Georgia's three toughest SEC games – vs. LSU (Oct. 3), at Tennessee (Oct. 10) and vs. Florida in Jacksonville (Oct. 31) – all fall in the same month.

Bottom line: Georgia's young offense had better grow up in a hurry or the Bulldogs could be 0-3 when Arizona State comes to Athens on Sept. 26.

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