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Vanderbilt Football 2023 Summer Opponent Preview: Georgia Bulldogs

Oh, good. These guys.

Georgia Bulldogs Red v Georgia Bulldogs Black Photo by Steve Limentani/ISI Photos/Getty Images

The Opponent: Georgia Bulldogs

When: October 14, 2023

Where: FirstBank Stadium

Last year: 15-0 (8-0 SEC.) Won the SEC championship 50-30 over LSU, squeaked by Ohio State in the playoff semifinal, then erased TCU from existence in the championship game. Played two games all season that were decided by a single score. One of those, somehow, was against Missouri.

The last time we saw these guys: Georgia won, 55-0, which sounds awful (it was) but Georgia padded the score with a couple of late touchdowns. It was 34-0 entering the fourth quarter, which somehow feels more like the “real” score than the final score was. It wasn’t anything like the 62-0 beatdown the Bulldogs administered in 2021, when Georgia scored 35 points in the first 12 minutes of the game. Moral victories!

Series record: Georgia leads, 60-20-2. This actually isn’t as one-sided in recent years as some of Vanderbilt’s other series against the SEC heavyweights, with the Commodores claiming five wins since 1991 (for comparison, we’ve won four against freakin’ South Carolina since they joined the SEC.) But Georgia has won five in a row by an average of 40 points per game.

Head Coach

Kirby Smart went 8-5 in his first season at Georgia and has gone 73-10 since. That’s nearly on the level of Alabama over the same stretch (75-8.) More importantly, he’s won two national championships in a row. It feels a bit hot take-y to say that the torch has been passed, but, well, if Georgia hasn’t passed Alabama then they’ve at least achieved parity.


Well, the quarterback won’t be Stetson Bennett. I had to double-check Georgia’s roster, but yes, he has graduated. It’ll more than likely be Carson Beck (26-for-35, 310 yards, 4 TD, 0 INT), who was Bennett’s backup last season and a four-star recruit out of high school. My hot take for the season is that we’re going to find out that there was a reason that Bennett was starting over him.

This should be fine, though, because of all the weapons around him. Georgia will line up unguardable proto-human Brock Bowers (63 catches, 942 yards, 7 TD) at tight end, and Ladd McConkey (58 catches, 762 yards, 7 TD) is a reliable receiver. (Fun fact: Ladd McConkey was probably going to sign with Derek Mason-era Vanderbilt until Georgia swooped in with a last-minute offer, and... this somehow worked out well for Georgia, because of course it did.) Leading rusher Kenny McIntosh moves on; second-leading rusher Daijun Edwards (139 carries, 771 yards, 7 TD) will be fine, and I assume one or two more guys will emerge from the assembly line of good running backs they have under Sanford Stadium. Oh yeah, and four starters on the offensive line are back. This offense should score points regardless of the quarterback.


After Tennessee hung 52 on Alabama’s defense, we got treated to a week of “this is just how college football is now” and then Georgia went out and casually held Tennessee to 13 points. Ohio State managed to score 41, but through the first 12 games on the schedule, Georgia’s defense allowed just 11.3 points per game. And... they have seven starters back.

One of those, though, is not Jalen Carter. Like Bowers on offense, Carter was the Georgia defense’s unguardable proto-human. You do not simply neutralize a guy who’s 6’3”, 300, and athletic. Like the loss of Bennett on offense, though, I do not think this matters much, because Georgia has a bunch of four- and five-star recruits to plug in to fill any holes and a defensive coaching staff that knows what it is doing. They’ll push back on whatever narratives about how the college game is dominated by unstoppable offenses by holding those unstoppable offenses to two touchdowns. It’s fine. Everything is fine.

Special Teams

Georgia has to replace reliable placekicker Jack Podlesny. Punter Brett Thorson averaged 45 yards per punt last season, which would have been good for fourth in the SEC except that he didn’t punt enough to qualify. Redshirt junior Jared Zirkel converted a single 21-yard field goal last season. I guess that’s who they’re going with at kicker? Should Georgia get into any close games, not having Podlesny aroundi is probably a disadvantage. They probably won’t play too many close games.


  • September 2 vs. UT-Martin
  • September 9 vs. Ball State
  • September 16 vs. South Carolina
  • September 23 vs. UAB
  • September 30 at Auburn
  • October 7 vs. Kentucky
  • October 14 at Vanderbilt
  • October 28 vs. Florida (Jacksonville, FL)
  • November 4 vs. Missouri
  • November 11 vs. Ole Miss
  • November 18 at Tennessee
  • November 25 at Georgia Tech


It was funny when people got mad at the eight SEC media voters who picked Vanderbilt to win the East and blew right past the people who picked Tennessee, Kentucky, and South Carolina, because if you’re not picking Georgia at this point, you’re just being contrarian anyway.

This looks like the best team in the East and it doesn’t seem particularly close, either. Drawing Ole Miss (at home) and rebuilding Auburn from the West means that running the table in the SEC is still the most likely outcome, and the non-conference schedule became a joke after the SEC told them to cancel the front end of a home-and-home with Oklahoma due to Oklahoma joining the conference.

Vanderbilt opens the season with seven straight games that I can talk myself into them winning. I do not think we will win this one. I am willing to accept the possibility of blowback from the running back room for making this prediction.