Clemson and Georgia will open the 2021 season at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte. Both schools, along with the Charlotte Sports Foundation, announced on Feb. 18, they will kick off the 2021 football season on September 4, 2021 against each other.
But could they meet sooner? There is a chance it could happen in the College Football Playoff.
The Bulldogs will likely be a top 10 team when the 2020 season begins, and if everything falls right—like a win at Alabama early in the season—the Bulldogs could be in position to represent the SEC in the CFP this year. If that happens, depending on how things go during the year, they could see the Tigers in the semifinals or possibly the championship game.
Imagine, Clemson and Georgia closing the 2020 season in a national championship game and then opening the 2021 season.
The Tigers appear to be everyone’s favorite to win the national championship. They are already ranked No. 1 by Athlon in its annual preseason rankings. The Bulldogs are considered one of many challengers for Clemson this coming season.
The Clemson Insider has already previewed potential challengers North Carolina, Notre Dame and LSU. Because it is ranked No. 7 in Athlon’s preseason poll, the Bulldogs are definitely a challenger for the title in 2020.
But can Georgia make it out of the SEC? Besides playing Bama in Week 3, they also have their annual grudge match against Florida in Jacksonville, host Auburn and Tennessee, who many consider a rising program in the SEC. If they survive all of that then they could possibly play Alabama or Auburn again in the SEC Championship Game or LSU.
Granted, it is a tall order, especially considering Georgia will have a new quarterback, a new running back and two new starters on the offensive line.
The Bulldogs will also have a new play-caller in Todd Monken, who has been out of the college game the last four years. He was the head coach at Southern Miss from 2013-’15, but he spent the last four years with Tampa Bay and Cleveland. He was the Buccaneers offensive coordinator in 2018 and was Cleveland’s last year.
Former Wake Forest quarterback Jamie Newman transferred to Georgia in the spring and will likely be the Bulldogs’ new quarterback. Sophomore George Pickens is back to be Newman’s top target. Last year, Pickens caught 49 passes for 727 yards and eight touchdowns.
The running game should still be solid with talented runners in Zamir White, James Cook, Kenny McIntosh and Kendall Milton fighting to replace D’Andre Swift and Brian Herrien.
The defense will be solid once again after it led the nation in scoring defense (12.6 pts./game) and was third in total defense (275.7 yds./game) in 2019.
Clemson and Georgia most recently split a home-and-home series in 2013 and 2014, with each school defending its home turf in a pair of Top 20 matchups. The programs met 24 times in a span of 26 years from 1962-’87, playing one another every year with the exception of the 1966 and 1972 seasons.
In back-to-back years in 1980 and 1981, the winner of the Clemson-Georgia contest went on to win the national championship. Georgia earned a 20-16 victory against Clemson and a national title in 1980, followed by Clemson defeating Georgia, 13-3, en route to a national title in 1981.
The Clemson-Georgia rivalry was one of the nation’s best from 1977-’87 as the two teams each won five games, lost five and tied once in the 11 meetings.
The Tigers and Bulldogs will also open the 2024 season in Atlanta as part of the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic. They are also scheduled to play in a home-and-home series in 2029 and 2030 and again in 2032 and 2033.
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