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Georgia 2023 Season Preview & Win Total Prediction


Kirby Smart Georgia Bulldogs Ohio State Buckeyes
Head coach Kirby Smart of the Georgia Bulldogs leads his team onto the field prior to the game against the Ohio State Buckeyes in the Chick fil A Peach Bowl Kevin C CoxGetty ImagesAFP

NCAAF Pick: Georgia Under 11.5 Wins (-143) at BetRivers


Kirby Smart has a good thing going on in Athens. His Georgia Bulldogs are the two-time and defending champions of college football, and according to the NCAAF futures at press time, they’re +230 favorites at Caesars Sportsbook to make it three in a row.

It could definitely happen. But will the Bulldogs run the table like they did last year, when they swept the regular season at 12-0 (6-6 ATS record) before beating LSU during Champ Week, then putting away both Ohio State and TCU in the College Football Playoff?

That might be a bit too much to ask, even for the best team in the FBS. Georgia has another dozen games lined up for the 2023 regular season; the online sportsbooks we’re looking at have a win total of 11.5 on the college football odds board, and the defending champs are slight underdogs to go Over.

A Crimson Mask

Running the table in the SEC is no mean feat. The Bulldogs weren’t able to do it in 2021; they went to Tuscaloosa for their Week 14 finale and lost 41-24 to Alabama (+6). Georgia still made it into the CFP as a one-loss team, then pulverized both Michigan and ‘Bama to win their first national title since 1980.

But as fate would have it, the Crimson Tide weren’t on Georgia’s schedule last year – and they won’t face each other in 2023, unless they meet in the SEC Championship Game.

This is a big deal. Alabama (+650) is this year’s No. 2 title favorite at Caesars; the Bulldogs and the Tide almost certainly wouldn’t be in the top two spots if they had to play during the regular season. Otherwise, there isn’t much stopping either team from running the SEC table all the way to Champ Week.

Kirby’s Avalanche

It’s not that the SEC has turned into the Sun Belt or anything. This was still the top conference in the FBS last year, according to the Simple Rating System at Sports Reference, and it’s only getting stronger with Oklahoma and Texas joining next year.

Which makes Georgia’s dominance over the past two years all the more remarkable. Smart’s program is the best the Bulldogs have ever seen in their 120 years of existence, as per the Simple Rating System:

  • 2022: plus-25.48 SRS
  • 1946: 25.17
  • 2021: 24.62
  • 2017: 22.47
  • 1971: 22.22

By this metric, three of the Top 5 seasons in Georgia history were under Smart’s watch – as well as their No. 9-ranked season in 2018 (20.69 SRS). That 1946 team posted their previous high under Wallace Butts, and that 1971 campaign was their best under Vince Dooley, easily their most successful coach before Smart came along.

Eminently Replaceable

Reaching the FBS mountaintop is difficult enough; staying there is even harder. The Bulldogs saw 10 players selected in the 2023 NFL Draft, including the following:

  • DT Jalen Carter (No. 9, Philadelphia)
  • OT Broderick Jones (No. 14, Pittsburgh)
  • LB Nolan Smith (No. 30, Philadelphia)
  • TE Darnell Washington (No. 93, Pittsburgh)
  • QB Stetson Bennett (No. 128, L.A. Rams)
  • RB Kenny McIntosh (No. 237, Seattle)

Yet this 2023 team might be even better than last year’s. Smart has no shortage of young talent in the pipeline; Warren Brinson will take over in the defensive trenches for Carter, just like Carter did for Jordan Davis before him, and Earnest Greene III will do the same on offense for Jones.

That offensive line is key. It was arguably the main reason why Georgia was able to escape Alabama’s gravitational pull in the SEC, improving from No. 20 on the 2020 F+ Ratings to No. 3 in 2021, and again to No. 2 last year.

It’s also why nobody’s too concerned about having to replace Bennett at quarterback. He was a walk-on at Georgia in 2017 before transferring to Jones College, then back to Athens in 2019; Carson Beck is a four-star recruit who will probably get first crack at the top gig after backing up Bennett the past two years, and if he fails, Brock Vandagriff (five stars) and Gunner Stockton (four stars) are waiting in the wings.

All that being said, we’re still going to predict 11 regular-season wins for Georgia this year. They may end up being favored in each of their 12 games, as they were last year, but football is a game of luck as well as skill, and not even Smart can control everything that happens on the field.

That’s just the way the prolate spheroid bounces.

NCAAF Pick: Georgia Under 11.5 Wins (-143) at BetRivers


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