2008-05-07 / School & Sports

UGA's Tough Schedule

By Marc Weiszer

Georgia is a fashionable pick nationally to begin the upcoming football season ranked No. 1 in the nation. Finishing the season there could be another story because of the schedule the Bulldogs must plow through.

ESPN Radio's Colin Cowherd has called it a "bloodbath" and "ridiculous, just way too hard."

Georgia's slate includes road games at South Carolina, Arizona State, LSU and Auburn, the annual game against Florida in Jacksonville and home games against Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia Tech.

"Would I like for it to be easier? Yeah," said Georgia associate athletic director Arthur Johnson, who is responsible for the Bulldogs' scheduling in consultation with athletic director Damon Evans and Coach Mark Richt.

"But until all the games are played, and it's laid out, then you go back and say, 'Man, it was a hard schedule' or maybe 'Some of the teams weren't as good as we thought they were.'"

The stout schedule should help ensure Georgia players don't keep their heads in the clouds with all of the off-season hype.

"I think our guys are mature enough to know that our league is rough; our schedule is I think pretty unbelievable, and we've got a really tall order ahead of us," Richt said.

Georgia lined up the Arizona State game in August 2004 before Johnson was hired from Texas. The Sun Devils were coming off a five-win season.

They doubled that number last season, going 10-3 in Dennis Erickson's first season.

Such are the pitfalls when scheduling years down the road.

"You don't have any feel one way or the other," Johnson said. "I can tell you with (future games with) Clemson in '13 and '14, you just don't have any feel how they're going to be just like they don't know how we're going to be."

An example of that came in 2006 when a Colorado- Georgia game that looked like it might have national appeal was televised regionally when the Buffaloes came to town 0-3 including a loss to Montana State. Georgia pulled out a 14-13 victory.

Then again a team that looks stacked in July might not be viewed that way come October or November.

"I have a very good friend who reminds me all the time 'That's why they don't mail that national championship trophy early,'" Johnson said. "A great example was watching Pittsburgh upset West Virginia."

Evans scheduled games such as Arizona State and Colorado, hoping to grow the program's profileoutside the region.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford is looking forward to going through the gauntlet this fall.

"I think it will be really fun," Stafford said. "I think it will be really challenging for us. It's one of the tougher schedules in the country this year. It's definitely something that's got our attention right now, and it will keep it throughout the season, which is good for us to help us get focused for every game."
Aug. 30 Georgia Southern
Sept. 06 Central Michigan
Sept. 13 South Carolina
Sept. 20 Arizona State
Sept. 27 Alabama
Oct. 11 Tennessee
Oct. 18 Vanderbilt
Oct. 25 LSU
Nov. 01 Florida
Nov. 08 Kentucky
Nov. 15 Auburn
Nov. 29 Georgia Tech

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