A closer look at what Georgia faces in 2013 in trying to get back to the SEC championship game for a third straight year:
Nonconference opponents (with 2012 records)
Aug. 31: at Clemson (11-2)
Sept. 21: North Texas (4-8)
Nov. 9: Appalachian State (8-4)
Nov. 30: at Georgia Tech (7-7)
SEC home games
Sept. 7: South Carolina
Sept. 28: LSU
Oct. 12: Missouri
Nov. 23: Kentucky
SEC road games
Oct. 5: at Tennessee
Oct. 19: at Vanderbilt
Nov. 2: vs. Florida, in Jacksonville
Nov. 16: at Auburn
Gut-check time: Nobody needs to tell the Georgia coaches, players or fans that South Carolina has won three in a row over the Bulldogs. The Gamecocks have never won four in a row in this series. Granted, Georgia has made it to the SEC championship game each of the past two seasons despite losing to South Carolina, but the odds of getting back to Atlanta for a third straight year after losing the SEC opener to the Gamecocks aren’t great. Plus, losing to the Gamecocks is starting to get real old in Bulldog Land.
Trap game: The trip to Vanderbilt on Oct. 19 has “trap game” written all over it. For one, the Commodores should again be an upper-echelon team next season under third-year coach James Franklin, but it will also be Georgia’s fourth straight SEC game in as many weeks. Vanderbilt, meanwhile, will be coming off a bye and playing at home.
Snoozer: After high stakes the first two weeks of the season against Clemson and South Carolina, LSU takes a week off and then tees it up against mighty North Texas on Sept. 21.
Telltale stretch: The Bulldogs had better be on top of their game right out of the gate because the month of September is filled with tough challenges. Nobody in the SEC faces a more difficult season opener than Georgia, which travels to Clemson on Aug. 31. Then it’s back home to face South Carolina the next week, and the month ends with a home game against LSU on Sept. 28.
Final analysis: This schedule isn’t nearly as forgiving as the one the Bulldogs faced a year ago. Going to Clemson the first game of the season trumps any nonconference game the Bulldogs faced last season. Plus, this is an odd year, meaning Georgia travels to Georgia Tech to end the season. The league schedule also has more teeth to it. LSU comes to Athens to close the month of September. The Bulldogs avoided Alabama, LSU and Texas A&M in the West a year ago in the regular season. The middle part of the SEC schedule also features four of five league games that will be played away from home. Ultimately, the month of September will probably make or break Georgia’s season. Then again, the Bulldogs have proven to be resilient each of the past two seasons after losing games early.