Out-of-conference games are a win

Published 3:57 pm Friday, April 5, 2019

The Georgia Bulldogs football team has been aggressively scheduling out-of-conference Power 5 teams, and I think it speaks to the philosophy coach Kirby Smart and the athletic department have toward the program.

Play the best teams, beat the best teams, be the best team. No arguments.

As of today, Georgia has a number of college football blue bloods scheduled over the next 15 years, with even more coming, said Smart. Between now and 2033, The Dawgs will play Notre Dame, Virginia, Oregon, UCLA twice, Florida State twice, Texas twice and Clemson five times. Word is a home-and-home with Oklahoma is in the works, too. Of course, Georgia Tech is an annual game, as well.

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There has been a lot of speak about teams like Alabama, Georgia and others in the SEC scheduling up to four cupcakes in a season, and I honestly can’t blame them when the College Football Playoff committee doesn’t seem to penalize teams for playing the lesser competition. Records matter to the committee.

What Georgia is doing has a number of benefits, and I’d like to see more teams do this moving forward.

First, it’s ideal for the players—on both teams. Recruits come to the big Power 5 schools because they want the opportunity to play in the huge games, against opponents with the best players in the country. Formerly, that might come against a few of a team’s conference opponents, and the playoffs or the bowl games, if they’re fortunate. For Georgia, some of the programs the Dawgs might only see in a bowl game are now part of the regular season schedule.

It’s also ideal for the fans for many of the same reasons. With a few of these home-and-homes, fans can travel to new locations and welcome traveling fans into Sanford Stadium. We can share new experiences and new traditions.

In a more technical sense, it also buys Georgia some insurance. The Dawgs would like to win every game on their schedule. But in the case of a slip-up (or two), Georgia would have the strength of schedule to still make the playoffs. We’ve seen a one-loss conference champion get left out of the playoffs before. With an extra out-of-conference game on the schedule, hopefully with a W next to it, that could help Georgia’s case when a decision needs to be made on “Who’s In?”.

That argument really only holds value if these teams Georgia is scheduling are worth a rip, though. Similar versions to 2018 Florida State and UCLA won’t help Georgia’s case at all—they’d probably hurt it.

Keep scheduling the big games, Kirby. I’m more excited than ever to watch my team.