Georgia Football: Ranking the 6 Hardest Games on the 2014 Schedule

Brian Jones@Brian_L_JonesContributor IMarch 16, 2014

Georgia Football: Ranking the 6 Hardest Games on the 2014 Schedule

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    Dave Tulis/Associated Press

    In a little more than five months, the Georgia Bulldogs will take the field to open the 2014 season against the Clemson Tigers at Sanford Stadium.

    Based on how the Tigers have played under head coach Dabo Swinney the last few seasons, it’s safe to say the Bulldogs will have a tough test ahead of them.

    But that won’t be the only tough game on the schedule. They will have to face a few teams in their conference that will give them fits like Florida, Tennessee and Auburn. That said, the Bulldogs will have a ton of starters returning, so the team should be better this season than what it was in 2013.

    Here’s a look at the hardest games on the Bulldogs schedule.

No. 6: vs. Tennessee, Sept. 27

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    Wade Payne/Associated Press

    The Vols did finish the 2013 season with a 5-7 record, but they could have been the best 5-7 team in the country.

    Tennessee gave the Bulldogs everything it had in an overtime loss last season. But with the talent the Vols have coming back, they could be better in 2014.

    The one thing the Vols have to do is solidify the starting quarterback spot and replace all the starters on the offensive line. But head coach Butch Jones will have them ready to play when they go head-to-head on Sept. 27.

No. 5: at Missouri, Oct. 11

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    Tim Sharp/Associated Press

    The Tigers will be without quarterback James Franklin, running back Henry Josey and both starting defensive ends, but they still should have some firepower to compete for the SEC East title.

    Maty Mauk will take over as the starting quarterback. He threw for 1,071 yards and 11 touchdowns last season when Franklin was injured. And he will have a capable starter in wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham to throw to this season.

    The Bulldogs lost to Tigers by 15 points at Sanford Stadium last season. This time they will play at Missouri, but the Bulldogs came away with a win at Faurot Field back in 2012.

No. 4: vs. Florida, Nov. 1

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    John Raoux/Associated Press

    Florida had a season everyone would like to forget. Head coach Will Muschamp hired a new offensive coordinator to help the offense be more consistent, and he’s hoping that quarterback Jeff Driskel can bring more to the table.

    Despite the Bulldogs beating the Gators the last three seasons, this game is always tough for the Bulldogs. They make mistakes they should not make, and that will make it more of a game than it should be. If the Bulldogs play mistake-free football, it should be an easy win.

    But easy wins have been few and far between in this series.

No. 3: vs. Auburn, Nov. 15

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    Auburn will come into the game as the defending SEC champs and the BCS National runner-up after going 3-9 in 2012.

    Quarterback Nick Marshall is back, and he’s the right fit for Gus Malzahn’s offense. He will have the benefit of having four returning starters on the offensive line, and there will be some capable replacements at running back.

    The defense will be a question mark, but Malzahn has recruited well, and they should be good enough to compete in the SEC West. The good thing for the Bulldogs is they will be at Sanford Stadium when they play on Nov. 15.

No. 2: vs. Clemson, Aug. 30

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    Clemson is coming off one of its best stretches in school history, winning 32 games the last three seasons. But the Tigers will be without quarterback Tajh Boyd and receiver Sammy Watkins, so the offense will take a minor step back.

    This game will be played on August 30, and Swinney has suspended four players for the game due to violation of team rules.

    The Bulldogs should come into the game as the favorite for that reason, as well as the game being played at Sanford Stadium. But that doesn’t mean Swinney won’t have his team ready for a battle between the hedges.

No. 1: at South Carolina, Sept. 13

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    Just like in the past few years, the game between the Bulldogs and the Gamecocks will more than likely determine the champion of the SEC East.

    The Gamecocks will be without quarterback Connor Shaw and defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. But head coach Steve Spurrier has brought in good recruits over the years and should have no issues finding replacements.

    Dylan Thompson will take over at quarterback, and he has shown he can carry a team, throwing for over 200 yards in a win against Missouri last season. He will also have running back Mike Davis behind him, who had a breakout season in 2013.

    This game will be played at Williams-Brice Stadium, so it will be a very difficult game for the Bulldogs to come away with a win. But another way of looking at it is, because of the experience the Bulldogs have from playing tough road games last season, this will be a very difficult home game for the Gamecocks as well.