1. vs. Florida, Oct. 30: After all, it is the single-most important game of any Georgia season, right? There’s also a good chance this game could determine the division title, since the Gators, for the first time in a while, aren’t expected to be unbeaten and eyeing a BCS title come late October. So it’s more like Georgia is hoping this ends up being the most important game of its season. If it ends up being South Carolina or Arkansas, that doesn’t bode well.
2. vs. Georgia Tech, Nov. 27: The job Paul Johnson has done turning around the Yellow Jackets has restored this game to being worthy of rivalry week. It was once unthinkable to say Georgia Tech would pass Georgia as a program — but this year, for the first time in a decade, the Jackets start out ahead of the Bulldogs in the preseason polls. So, if things play out close to expected this season, the regular season finale should say a lot about where Georgia is as a program in Mark Richt’s 10th season.
3. at South Carolina, Sept. 11: A good case could be made for this being in the first or second spot. This second game sets the tone for the season, as the Bulldogs and Gamecocks were picked second and third, respectively, in the SEC East, separated by just one vote. The winner will be marked as the main competition for Florida in the East. The loser will have its season (prematurely) buried by observers.
4. vs. Arkansas, Sept. 18: This caps a huge pair of games for Georgia against seemingly similar teams. If it emerges from the two-game stretch unscathed, the season has a chance to be special. If it splits them, a lot remains to be decided. If both are losses, the Bulldogs are starting in a huge hole.
5. at Kentucky, Oct. 23: The Wildcats should end up fighting to finish in the upper third in the East this season under new head coach Joker Phillips. Beyond that, it’s a big one for Georgia, which would love to flush perhaps last year’s most deflating loss. A solid road win would do a lot to show this season really is different.
6. at Auburn, Nov. 13: OK, for rivalry purposes, it should matter more. And if things play out right, it could have a big effect on the SEC East race. But in a season of key games, as we sit here in August, this one seems overshadowed. The Bulldogs would be excited to get their first five-game winning streak over Auburn since the 1940s.
7. at Mississippi State, Sept. 25: This has hazardous written all over it. Dan Mullen is hoping his spread-option offense will start to get rolling in his second year, making it a tough early season test for new Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham. Georgia hasn’t lost to Mississippi State since 1974. If it happens in 2010, get ready for more Georgia-is-down storylines.
8. vs. Tennessee, Oct. 9: How can a game against the Volunteers be so low? That’s how mediocre the Vols are supposed to be this year. Yes, it’ll be a great story to have Derek Dooley in Athens. But Georgia figures to be a heavy favorite, especially if Aaron Murray is entering a comfort zone by that point.
9. at Colorado, Oct. 2: This will be a nice road trip for the Bulldogs and their fans. Boulder is a great college town, sort of an Athens-West. It could also be a dangerous test for Georgia, as it is any time a team has to travel so far and play an opponent it knows nothing about. That’s why it wouldn’t be the end of the world if the Bulldogs lost, but also wouldn’t be a huge resume builder if they won.
10. vs. Louisiana-Lafayette, Sept. 4: The temptation is to rank this game higher, considering it will be the official unveiling of the new quarterback and defense. The reason it doesn’t go higher is it’s still a non-conference tilt against a Rajin’ Cajuns team that was 6-6 last year. It’s not quite a simple warm-up game, but it’s not exactly a tough test either. That comes the following week.
11. vs. Vanderbilt, Oct. 16: The only way this game matters a lot is if the Commodores are better than expected under new head coach Robbie Caldwell. That’s possible, and they do have some good players (tailback Warren Norman, linebacker Chris Marve). But the Commodores are unsettled at quarterback and coming off a two-win season.
12. vs. Idaho State, Nov. 6: Well, really. Not only is it an FCS opponent, but Idaho State went 1-10 last year. Yikes. Seeing as how this one is scheduled in between Florida and Auburn, it could end up being a good time to rest a few starters, at least after the Bulldogs presumably build a big lead.