Bold doesn’t always have to be beautiful, right?
When tasked with coming up with these 10 bold predictions for Georgia’s upcoming season, there were many different directions to go. Sometimes it was the calm and conservative approach, like after I’ve had a good night’s sleep. (Rare.) Other times it was the bombastic approach, like after a day of being stuck in traffic and clicking off 3 dozen robocalls on my cell phone. (Too often.)
And then there’s my favorite approach, with a corner table at Starbucks while sipping on Caramel Macchiato No. 3. Let the caffeine take over and reach for the way-out thoughts. Bounce off the walls, and bounce off a few crazy ideas.
If it’s too outlandish, blame the caffeine. (And remember, many of these are with tongue firmly planted in cheek.)
No. 1: On Nov. 23, 10-0 Georgia will lose a game on purpose!
OK, follow along here. A really good Texas A&M team upsets No. 2 Alabama on Oct. 12 in College Station, and makes it to the Nov. 23 game with Georgia still unbeaten in the SEC. Georgia cruises through the “we’re not ready yet” SEC East — more on that in a moment — and already has clinched a trip to the SEC Championship Game. In order to screw Alabama out of a trip to the title game, Georgia lets A&M win on purpose so it wins the SEC West. (This thought came to me as I was gulping down the third macchiato.)
No. 2: And on Dec. 7, Georgia wins the rematch in the SEC title game
For all the marbles, Georgia proves it is the better team and wins 31-20 to claim its 2nd conference title in 3 years. With the win, the Bulldogs earn the SEC’s automatic bid to the College Football Playoff. (Yeah, I know better, but it’s really true. The SEC champ will never be left out of the Playoff.)
No. 3: Georgia beats Michigan in the Playoff semifinals, but then loses to Clemson
The Bulldogs will come up just short in the National Championship Game, and it will come in the same heartbreaking fashion as 2 years ago. This time, Trevor Lawrence leads Clemson on a game-winning drive in the final seconds. Lawrence and Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm combine to throw for more than 1,000 yards in the game. (No coffee euphoria. Georgia is a Playoff team.)
No. 4: George Pickens will not have 1,000 yards in receptions
Yeah, I saw the great catch, and, yeah, I already wrote about how special the kid is, but 1,000 yards is a ton, especially in a balanced offense that’s going to want to run the ball first. Pickens might still be the best true freshman in the league, but I think somewhere around 800 yards seems about right.
No. 5: D’Andre Swift will gain 1,000 yards on the ground
Despite battling through injuries early in the season, D’Andre Swift gained 1,049 yards a year ago. He’ll be much better in the first half of the season and will eclipse at least 1,200 yards on the year. It’s a very deep running back group in Athens, but Swift will still get the bulk of the carries. And then he’s off to the NFL, a likely top 15 pick.
No. 6: Georgia’s offensive line will miss 6 games to injury, and still be fine
I think Georgia has the best offensive line in the SEC, and 1 reason is that the Bulldogs can go 8 or 9 deep and never miss a beat. Cade Mays probably won’t start in the opener, but he’s good enough to start at center, guard or tackle for every other team in the country.
No. 7: The improving SEC East is still a year away from challenging
Georgia will win all 6 of its SEC East games again, and only 1 will be within a touchdown. That’s probably the Florida game, although the Gators weren’t terribly impressive Saturday. Last year, no SEC East team stayed within 14 points. Florida, Tennessee and Kentucky are trending upward, and Missouri can give people fits, but I can’t see any upsets here in 2019. Georgia keeps winning the recruiting battles every year, and that talent gap is still obvious.
No. 8: Jake Fromm will have his name all over Georgia’s record book
The skinny: The junior quarterback will have another sterling season and will leave Athens as the school’s all-time leader in winning percentage, yards per completion, touchdown-to-completion ratio and passer rating. He’s No. 1 in all those categories right now, and I don’t see that changing this year. I think he’s going to have a huge year and take one of the chairs at the Heisman Trophy presentation. (But I didn’t say he’d win.)
No. 9: Georgia won’t finish last in the SEC in sacks this season
It still shocks me that an 11-1 Georgia team finished dead last in sacks in the SEC in the regular season a year ago, especially with all that talent. I just don’t see that happening again, especially since there has been a heavy emphasis on getting to the quarterback all fall camp. I look for the Bulldogs to be crazy aggressive rushing the passer because they are confident the guys in the secondary can lock down receivers in man coverage.
No. 10: Georgia beats Notre Dame easily in the best nonconference game of the year
Most everyone agrees that this is the best nonconference game of the year, though Clemson and Texas A&M certainly have my attention. The Bulldogs host the Fighting Irish on Sept. 21, game time to be determined but you can bet your last dollar that this one will be under the lights and on primetime TV. Notre Dame went undefeated last year and made the CFP, but they’re just not that good. I think Fromm lights up their defense, and the Bulldogs force a few big turnovers. I’ve got the Bulldogs taking this one, say 41-17.
OK, barista babe. Let’s have that fourth cup!