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ByKipp Adams

Expectations are high in Athens as the 2018 Georgia football season gets closer. Kirby Smart one of the best quarterbacks in the country in Jake Fromm at the helm of his offense. The Bulldogs bring back an improved offense that may be what gets them over the hump for the national championship.

While the non-conference schedule seems favorable with Austin Peay, Umass, Middle Tennessee, and Georgia Tech,  Georgia will likely face two consensus top 25 teams in Auburn and Florida, with LSU and South Carolina potential cracking the list before the season begins. Georgia is loaded with talent, but they will have to safely navigate a few challenges to get to the Southeastern Conference Championship and beyond.

But when it comes to betting on the Bulldogs, CBSSports says to find the middle ground. According to CBS Sports analyst Tom Fornelli's in-depth look at betting trends over the past decade, Georgia is ninth in the conference against the spread at 63-65-4 since the beginning of the 2008 season.

"Never bet Georgia as a dog (9-14-1 ATS), but don't bet it as a big favorite either," Fornelli says. "Instead, find the happy medium. When the Dawgs are favored by fewer than 14 points (-13.5 to -0.5) they've gone 36-28-3 ATS."

That being said, Georgia is 17-11-0 against the spread since Kirby Smart took over as head coach in 2016. The Bulldogs went 8-5 in 2016 and 13-2 in 2017, winning the SEC Championship, Rose Bowl, and coming close to winning the College Football Playoff National Championship.

Last season, Georgia had the fifth-best cover percentage among FBS programs, behind Iowa State, Fresno State, Buffalo, and Utah. The Bulldogs had a +7.5 point differential against the spread, seventh best among FBS programs, behind Florida Atlantic, Iowa State, Fresno State, Purdue, UCF, and Boston College.

Those planning to bet on Georgia's win total this season, set at 10.5 by Vegas oddsmakers, should know that the Bulldogs are favored to win every game by ESPN's FPI. Georgia will likely be favored by double digits in all but one game — Auburn.

Georgia returns 13 starters, eight on offense and five on defense, tied for sixth-most returning starters in the SEC, from a team that went 13-2 with an SEC Championship, won the Rose Bowl and made an appearance in the College Football Playoff National Championship.

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On offense, Georgia must replace running backs Embroidered 2 Ballet ALBBG Women's Black Crafts Shoes Embroidery Black Style Flats Chinese Beige F7adnHq and Sony Michel, wide receiver Javon Wims, and left tackle Isaiah Wynn. Returning are quarterback Jake Fromm, wide receivers Mecole Hardman Jr. and Terry Godwin, tight end Isaac Nauta, and offensive linemen Kendall Baker, Lamont Gaillard, Andrew Thomas, and Ben Cleveland.

On defense, Georgia returns defensive linemen Jonathan Ledbetter and Tyler Clark, linebacker Natrez Patrick, cornerback Deandre Baker, and safety J.R. Reed. Georgia kicks off the 2018 season on Sept. 1 at home against FCS program Austin Peay.

247Sports
By Jake Rowe

ATHENS, Ga. -- The Southeastern Conference has released schedules for week four of the College Football season and Georgia's September 22 game at Missouri will be an early kickoff. The league announced on Monday that the Bulldogs and Tigers will tee it up at 12 p.m ET (11 a.m. CT) and the game will be televised by ESPN.

The past three matchups between UGA and Mizzou have been under the lights with each one of them kicking off at 7:30 p.m. ET. Georgia won a 9-6 game against the Tigers at Sanford Stadium in 2015. In Kirby Smart's first season as Georgia's head coach, the Bulldogs escaped Faurot Field with a 28-27 win. A season ago, in Georgia's SEC Championship campaign, Jake Fromm threw for 326 yards, a touchdown, and ran for another score in a 53-28 win.

The Tigers return their core group of offensive players in 2018, led by senior signal caller Drew Lock. Some NFL Draft Analysts have him pegged as a potential No. 1 overall pick coming off a season where he led the SEC in passing yardage, touchdowns, and yards per attempt. He threw for 3,954 yards, 44 touchdowns and averaged an impressive 9.5 yards per pass attempt.

Barry Odom's crew also has a pair of running backs who averaged over 5.5 yards per carry a year ago. Larry Roundtree III rushed for 703 yards as a freshman in 2017 and scored six touchdowns while junior Damarea Crockett had 481 yards in just seven games.

With a potent passing game and a strong ground attack, the Tigers led the SEC in scoring at 37.5 points per game. The defensive side of the ball, however, as a bit of a struggle.

Missouri allowed 31.8 points per game in 2017 and that was good for 12th in the conference. It is off to a much stronger start through two games against Tennessee-Martin and Wyoming this season. Thus far it has allowed 13.5 points per game.

The Tigers do return some talent on that side of the ball. Defensive tackle Terry Beckner Jr., who leads the team in tackles for loss with a pair through two games, was a second-team All-SEC selection by league media and coaches prior to the start of the year. Linebackers Cale Garrett and Terez Hall, a Georgia native, are two of the most productive tacklers in the conference. Both had 85 stops or more a year ago and they combined for 22.5 tackles for a loss from their inside position.

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Since Missouri joined the SEC in 2012, Georgia is 5-1 and has won all three games in Columbia. The only time the Bulldogs have lost to the Tigers was in 2013 at Sanford Stadium when an injury-plagued UGA squad fell 41-26.

Other week four games in the SEC include Kent State at Ole Miss, Texas A&M at Alabama, South Carolina at Vanderbilt, Mississippi State at Kentucky, Louisiana Tech at LSU, Arkansas at Auburn and Florida at Tennessee. 

247Sports
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