Originally written on The Lady Sportswriter  |  Last updated 12/28/11

STILLWATER, OK - SEPTEMBER 5: Head coach Mark Richt of the Georgia Bulldogs congratulates head coach Mike Gundy of the Oklahoma State Cowboys after the Cowboys won the game 24-10 at Boone Pickens Stadium on September 5, 2009 in Stillwater, Oklahoma. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
The Southeastern Conference (SEC) has finally released the Georgia Bulldogs 2012 schedule and, at least at first glance, Mark Richt's club appears to have an easy way to the SEC Championship. The Bulldog's schedule not only includes seven home games, but they won't have to face South Carolina until six weeks into the season as their newest division opponent, Missouri, will host them on their Columbia turf this time.

In case you haven't seen the schedule yet, here it is from top-to-bottom:

2012 Georgia Football ScheduleSept.1BuffaloSept. 8at MissouriSept. 15Florida AtlanticSept. 22VanderbiltSept. 29TennesseeOct. 6at South CarolinaOct. 13OpenOct. 20at KentuckyOct. 27Florida (Jacksonville)Nov. 3Ole MissNov. 10at AuburnNov. 17Georgia SouthernNov. 24Georgia Tech

Just looking at it, its easy to see why so many are pegging Georgia to once again come out of the East and make some serious noise for an SEC title in 2012. However, what this schedule doesn't do is simulate all of those games for us and make it clear just how good or bad any one of the Bulldog's 12 opponents will be.

2011 opened on a sour note with losses to both Boise State and South Carolina, but the team found a way to gather themselves and make one of the strongest finishes I've personally ever seen them make—aside from the 2007 season—en route to the SEC Championship Game. That said, will opening against Buffalo give them the same motivation they had last spring after learning they'd be opening against Boise in the Dome?

Not likely.

Furthermore, what does anyone know about Missouri as far as SEC competition is concerned? I can tell you this much, they aren't exactly chopped liver where keeping the south honest is concerned as Gary Pinkel (head coach since 2001) sports a 4-1 record against SEC opposition (including wins against South Carolina, Arkansas, and Ole Miss).

That said, Georgia's week two game against a likely heavily motivated Tigers team, at their home stadium, won't be a gimme game by any measure.

Secondly, will facing South Carolina later in the season truly mean the difference between a competitive game or a decided Georgia win?—don't laugh, many feel the Gamecocks success against Georgia has a lot to do with them facing them so early in the year and not much else.

Third, will the 2011 Georgia Signing Day Class make the type of impact the 2010 'Dream Team' did? If they don't, then you're looking at a situation where Georgia will be searching for leadership and consistency at the tailback position, a veteran presence on the offensive line (since both Cordy Glenn and Ben Jones will be gone), stability in the secondary (which stands to lose Branden Smith, possibly, Bacarri Rambo, probably, and Brandon Boykin, definitely), a leg to keep special teams on the map as both Drew Butler and Blair Walsh will graduate, and a new set of reliable hands at the tight end position as Orson Charles is almost sure to take the NFL up on their offer and Aron White will graduate.

Call me a skeptic but, as far as I'm concerned, there is no such thing as an "easy schedule" for the Bulldogs with so many personnel questions looming in 2012.

The road to Atlanta could indeed be an easy one, but that's why they play the games, isn't it? Here's hoping that Georgia doesn't let that 2011 fire die in 2012.

Related articles
  • 2012 SEC conference football schedules released (finally). (blutarsky.wordpress.com)
  • 2012 SEC Football Schedule Released: How Texas A&M, Missouri Shake Up Conference (sbnation.com)
Read more sports commentary at: http://theladysportswriter.blogspot.com/

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