Georgia vs Vanderbilt: No. 3 Georgia and Vanderbilt will tee it up in Nashville on Saturday night in a rare Week 1 conference game, particularly between SEC opponents. The Bulldogs are coming off a 2018 season that ended with a thud following the heartbreaking defeat to Alabama in the SEC Championship Game and the Sugar Bowl loss to Texas. Is this the year that Kirby Smart takes Georgia beyond contention and to a national championship? Those are certainly the expectations for the Dawgs as they try to knock No. 2 Alabama off its perch atop the SEC.
Vanderbilt, on the other hand, won three of its final four games last season to make a bowl game, and it hopes to make a big splash with an upset over one of the top teams in the country. The Bulldogs are heavy favorites in this one, but the Commodores are known to test good teams, and we have seen plenty of Week 1 upsets over the years over teams who are not quite ready for the season.
What will go down in Nashville on Saturday? Let’s break down the game and make a pick.
Georgia: Let’s get the good news out of the way first: Georgia returns star quarterback Jake Fromm, a stellar running back corps led by D’Andre Swift, one of the best offensive lines in the country and a solid and versatile secondary that has plenty of big game experience. All of that together should keep Georgia in the College Football Playoff mix for the third straight season. If they’re going to win it, they’re going to have to find some wide receivers. Only 13 catches return from last season’s group. Not 13 players with catches. Thirteen total catches by wide receivers. Guys like former five-star Demetrius Robertson and speedster Tyler Simmons will have to step up outside. The Bulldogs also struggled to get pressure on quarterbacks last season. But Tyler Clark played a big role inside down the stretch two seasons ago, and Jordan Davis has the talent to be a monster off the edge this year.
Vanderbilt: The Commodores are set at the offensive skill positions with star running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn and wide receiver Kalija Lipscomb, but coach Derek Mason has been tight-lipped on who will take the snaps. Graduate transfer Riley Neal will likely trot out with the first team after seeing significant playing time with Ball State. The Commodores return just five starters off a defense that gave up 6.14 yards per play last season — 13th in the conference.
Date: Saturday, Aug. 31 | Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: Vanderbilt Stadium — Nashville, Tennessee
TV: SEC Network | Live stream: WatchESPN.com
Game prediction, picks
Give me the Bulldogs, and give them to me big. The wide receivers will show that they are a strength, not a liability, against the Commodores secondary. After getting Fromm into rhythm, coach Kirby Smart and coordinator James Coley will work in Zamir White, Brian Herrien and the rest of the reserve running backs in an effort to build depth behind Swift. On the other side of the ball, Georgia will bring the heat on the Commodore quarterback (likely Neal), and the secondary will capitalize on multiple mistakes. This one will get sideways in the second half. Pick: Georgia (-21.5)