Georgia football: ESPN's FPI updates UGA's chances of winning each game this season – 247Sports

  • September 12, 2022

Looking at ESPN’s 2022 FPI, four remaining opponents on the Dawgs’ schedule are in the top 40.  As always, Georgia will have six teams from the SEC East to contend with plus Auburn. The Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate matchup with Georgia Tech is also in there. Every year, except for the craziness that was 2020, those eight games are pretty much set in stone. Mississippi State returns to the schedule and Kent State rounds out the non-conference schedule.
Georgia opened the 2022 season in Atlanta with a 49-3 neutral-site win over Oregon at Mercedes Benz Stadium. It is coming off a 33-0 home win over Samford.
ESPN defines its FPI as a “measure of team strength that is meant to be the best predictor of a team’s performance going forward for the rest of the season. FPI represents how many points above or below average a team is. Projected results are based on 10,000 simulations of the rest of the season using FPI, results to date, and the remaining schedule. Ratings and projections update daily.”
In 2018, the FPI had Georgia favored in every game heading into the season and ranked No. 3 overall, with the Dawgs proceeding to go 11-1 in the regular season, losing to LSU on the road, Alabama in the SEC Championship, and Texas in the Allstate Sugar Bowl. In 2019, the FPI once again had Georgia favored in every game heading into the season and, following an overtime loss on the road at South Carolina, it would give them a greater chance than 50 percent of losing to Auburn and LSU. The Dawgs would split those games against the Tigers, going on to finish 12-2 with a New Year’s Six bowl win in the victory against Baylor in the Sugar Bowl. In 2020, the FPI had Georgia going 9-1, losing to Alabama. The Dawgs would ultimately go 7-2 in the regular season, falling to the Crimson Tide as well as Florida, before beating Cincinnati in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl. In 2021, the FPI had Georgia going 11-1, losing to Clemson. The Dawgs would ultimately go 12-0 in the regular season, losing to Alabama in the SEC Championship, and then beat Michigan and Alabama in the College Football Playoff to emerge as the National Champions.
Below is a look at Georgia’s remaining 2022 opponents as they are on the schedule along with FPI’s updated projected chances of the Dawgs’ winning.
Location: Columbia, S.C.
South Carolina 2022 FPI Ranking: 48th (down from 45th)
ESPN FPI’s percent chance to win:  91.2 (down from 93.2)
Series History: Georgia leads 53-18-2, but the Gamecocks delivered one of the biggest upsets in recent memory three years ago, upending the Dawgs 20-17 in double overtime.
South Carolina is 1-1 after a 44-30 loss to Arkansas.
247Sports outlook for South Carolina
The Gamecocks finished 7-6 with standout wins against Auburn and Florida, capped by a victory in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl against North Carolina. They carried that momentum into the offseason in a big way. Beamer went heavy in the transfer portal, which started with the addition of a pair of Oklahoma transfers in quarterback Spencer Rattler and tight end Austin Stogner. South Carolina has signed three four-star and four three-star portal prospects, per the 247Sports transfer ratings. 
Location: Athens, Ga.
Kent State 2022 FPI Ranking: 109 (up from 112th)
ESPN FPI’s percent chance to win:  99.3 (down from 99.5)
Series History: Georgia owns a 1-0 all-time record over the Golden Flashes, winning 53 in Athens in 1998.
Kent State is 0-2 after a 33-3 loss to Oklahoma.
While Kent State was a respectable 6-2 in conference play, losing to Northern Illinois in the MAC Championship and to Wyoming in the Potato Bowl, it will have to replace quarterback Dustin Crum, the MAC MVP and a big reason why Kent State averaged 33 points per game last season. Nevertheless, Kent State returns seven starters on an offense that had 6,907 yards from scrimmage, setting a program record by almost 1,500 yards. Few offenses in college football were as balanced as Kent State, with 3,425 passing yards and 3,482 rushing yards, both school records as well. Marquez Cooper is a 5-foot-7, 184-pound bowling ball who put over 1,200 rushing yards last season and wideout Dante Cephas returns after making 2 receptions for 1,24 yards and nine touchdowns, both second all-time in school history. The Golden Flashes were 121st among 130 FBS programs in scoring defense last season, allowing 36.3 points per game. The program will field an aggressive 3-3-5 defense with an emphasis on forcing turnovers. All this to say this should be another comfortable win for the Bulldogs.
Location: Columbia, Mo.
Missouri 2022 FPI Ranking: 60th (down from 46th)
ESPN FPI’s percent chance to win:  93.4 (up from 93.0)
Series History: Georgia leads 10-1 and has won the last eight games over Missouri.
Missouri is 1-01 after a 40-12 loss to Kansas State. Missouri football enters Year 3 under head coach Eli Drinkwitz after he arrived from Appalachian State in 2020. The Tigers went 6-7 in 2021, a campaign that capped with a 24-22 loss in the Armed Forces Bowl to Army. They went 5-5 during his first year, which was the COVID-19 shortened 202 season. Missouri has expectations to take the next step in 2022.
“I don’t think there is a ceiling,” Paul Finebaum said on his show. “I think coach Drink has done a phenomenal job recruiting and now it’s just a matter of putting all the pieces together.”
Brady Cook and Tyler Macon, both former three-star recruits from 2020 and ‘21, continued to battle for the starting quarterback job in fall camp, with Cook emerging as the starter.
“I thought both of them had good things and bad things happen to them during the course of the game, and they had to respond both in their own way,” Drinkwitz said, via the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “Both of them led drives to really have a chance to either take the lead or come back. I thought, obviously, Maco had the drive at the end of the first half. And then Brady took his team right down and scored with very little time left on the clock, which was extremely impressive. Tyler had to drive the chance to go for two to win the game. So that was good. Obviously, both of them had some mistakes that they’re gonna have to grow from and learn from. And that’s part of it, it’s better to make that mistake in a spring game than in the course of a game. But both have made mistakes that really put you behind the eight ball in trying to win a game. And so we got to learn from those and grow from those.”
Location: Athens, Ga.
Auburn 2022 FPI Ranking: 40th (down from 27th)
ESPN FPI’s percent chance to win:  93.8 (up from 93.4)
Series History: Series History: Georgia leads 61-56-8 in the series, having won the last five games and 14 out of the last 16 over the Tigers.
Auburn is 2-0 after a 24-16 win over San Jose State. The temperature around Auburn — football, that is — is ice cold. The Tigers have had 22 players hit the transfer portal since the start of the 2021 season, which they finished with a 6-7 record and loss to Houston in the Birmingham Bowl. Three of those transfers were 2021 defensive line signees. As it stands at this point, the Tigers lost three of their five most important reserve EDGE rushers and, outside of the starting duo of Derick Hall and Eku Leota, return just one scholarship player at the position. 
Aside the roster attrition is the loss of a handful of key coaches. The Tigers had to replace both coordinators. That includes defensive mastermind Derek Mason, whose departure stings quite a bit. Harsin’s hires to replace those lost coaches leave a lot to be desired. He tabbed former NFL quarterbacks coach Austin Davis to be offensive coordinator, but Davis left after two months.  They then promoted wide receivers coach Eric Kiesau to offensive coordinator. He joined the staff in 2021 as a senior offensive analyst after serving as offensive coordinator at Boise State in 2020, at Fresno State in 2016, as the Kansas interim offensive coordinator during the 2014 season, as the Washington offensive coordinator in 2012-13, and as the Colorado offensive coordinator in 2009-10. When Auburn lost defensive line coach Nick Eason to Clemson, it replaced him with Oregon analyst Jimmy Brumbaugh — a defensive line coach that was fired in the middle of the 2020 season while working with a woeful Tennessee team. The sky is not falling in Auburn, but it might be on the precipice.   
Location: Athens, Ga.
Vanderbilt 2022 FPI Ranking: No. 88 (down from No. 79)
ESPN FPI’s percent chance to win:  98.4 (down from 98.5)
Series History: Georgia has a strong 59-20-2 lead in the all-time series against Vanderbilt, having won the last four outings over the Commodores.
Vanderbilt is 2-1 after a 45-25 loss to Wake Forest. It is hard to get a read on Vanderbilt’s future under Lea. The Commodores pulled some nice prospects in for their 2022 class. They fended off a late run by Tennessee to secure edge rusher Darren Agu, flipped Elite 11 finalist quarterback AJ Swann from Maryland and inked four-star linebacker/safety Daniel Martin. Their No. 36 nationally ranked class in the 247Sports Composite team rankings is their best mark in a long, long time. 
But Vanderbilt is… Vanderbilt. Lea has a lot of work ahead to flip the perception on his squad, which is a historic SEC cellar dweller. Until the Commodores pick up a couple surprise wins or completely implode, the outlook stays measured. 
Location: Jacksonville, Fla.
Florida 2022 FPI Ranking: 37th (down from 24th)
ESPN FPI’s percent chance to win:  90.6 (no change)
Series History: Georgia leads 54-44-2 over the Gators, with Georgia bouncing back with a 34-7 victory that signaled the beginning of the end of the Dan Mullen era at Florida. 
Florida is 1-1 after a 26-16 loss to Kentucky.
“I think fans better beware that this is not going to be a great team, Greg,” Paul Finebaum said on WJOX-FM’s Cubelic and McElroy. “And I’ve never in my life thought saying that’d be considered a success at Florida — that’s blasphemous — but I think that’s about it because they have a difficult schedule. I mean, they start and finish — I mean, you really can’t find a more-treacherous beginning than they have. And I see them struggling. I think (Anthony) Richardson, assuming he works everything out off the field, is a really good player. But I don’t think they have a lot around him that’s sustainable, and what I mean by that is depth.”
Napier was a superb 40-12, including a 27-5 mark in Sun Belt play during his four years at Louisiana. 
“And I like (Billy Napier),” Finebaum said. “I think he’s really smart. You can call him Nick Saban 3.0, whatever you want to call him. But that program has needed an overhaul for a long time. And now that the facilities are about to open, facilities that are 5-to-10 years overdue — I think, recruiting-wise, they’re going to start making some headway. But it won’t be on the field this year.”
Location: Athens, Ga.
Tennessee 2022 FPI Ranking: 7th (Up from 10th)
ESPN FPI’s percent chance to win:  84.2 (down from 89.1)
Series History: Georgia has won five in a row and 10 of the last 12 games against Tennessee, taking a 26-23-2 lead in the all-time series last year.
Tennessee is 2-0 after a 34-27 win over Pitt. Heupel inherited what most pundits saw as untenable when he took the Tennessee job. Former coach Jeremy Pruitt left the program in ruins with a historically bad 3-7 record in 2020 and a pending NCAA investigation due to recruiting infidelity. Thanks to the turmoil, the Vols lost almost every single one of their marketable stars to the transfer portal, with more than 30 scholarship players bolting for greener pastures.
So maybe it is the mark of Heupel’s ability that he seemingly defied the odds in year one with Tennessee and not only led his team to a bowl game, but finished above .500 at 7-6. For a program that most in the preseason picked to finish 13th out of 14 SEC teams, that is an amazing accomplishment. To add to the renewed optimism, Tennessee had an underrated close to the Early Signing Period on the recruiting trail and welcomed the No. 15 class in the 247Sports Composite team recruiting rankings. 
With quarterback Hendon Hooker and leading receiver Cedric Tillman back, hope abounds for next year’s Vols squad. The only thing holding them back right now is a plethora of question marks on defense, but a nice spring transfer portal haul could salve that concern. 
Location: Starkville, Miss.
Mississippi State 2022 FPI Ranking: 9th (Up from 13th)
ESPN FPI’s percent chance to win:  73.8 (Down from 82.6)
Series History: Georgia leads the all-time series 19-6.
Mississippi State is 2-0 after a 39-17 win over Arizona. National and regional outlets are starting to become much higher on the team and players than those that even follow the maroon and white. A big reason for that is the returning production from the last two years as players with numerous games under their belts will be back again in 2022. It all starts with the offense as Will Rogers will be the quarterback for a third season.
He took his lumps as a true freshman in the offense but Rogers put up some monster numbers last season. It was the greatest statistical season for a quarterback from a passing standpoint in MSU history as Rogers set all kinds of records. He completed an amazing 74% of his passes for 4,739 yards, 36 touchdowns and just nine interceptions as he finished third in SEC history for a single season in passing yards and was just under 100 yards from Bryce Young for second last year who played in two more ball games.
There are some big pieces missing from Rogers’ offense last season, of course. He lost his left tackle Charles Cross who was taken inside the top 10 of the NFL Draft as one of the top performing tackles in MSU history last season. Rogers also lost Makai Polk who decided to declare early for the draft only to go undrafted. Replacing Cross will be a challenge and State still has to figure that out in the fall, but the Bulldogs have solid options in the nation’s No. 1 JUCO OT Percy Lewis, veteran lineman Dollar Bill Johnson and more.
Location: Lexington, Ky.
Kentucky 2022 FPI Ranking: 20th (No change)
ESPN FPI’s percent chance to win:  82.1(Up from 85.5)
Series History: Georgia leads 61-12-2, having reeled off 12 straight wins over Kentucky.
Kentucky is 2-0 after a 26-16 win over Florida. The Wildcats have gotten to a point where they’re always tough to deal with. Georgia has coasted to victory in five straight games, even when the score has looked fairly tight, but Mark Stoops team always shows a lot of fight. Kentucky loses top playmaker Wan’Dale Robinson offensively, but quarterback Will Levis is returning after a 10-win season and you know Mark Stoops’ team will be a bully in the trenches despite a couple of notable losses at the line of scrimmage.
Location: Atlanta
Georgia Tech 2022 FPI Ranking: 90th (Down from 71st)
ESPN FPI’s percent chance to win:  98.5 (Up from 98.1)
Series History: Georgia leads, 69–41–5, having won the last four games by a combined score of 180-35 over the Yellow Jackets.
Georgia Tech is 1-1 after a 35-17 win over Western Carolina.
Georgia Tech coach Geoff Collins is trying to stay afloat after going 9-25 in three seasons as the program tasked him with transitioning from the triple option. In a pivotal year for Collins, he saw his star on offense, running back Jahmyr Gibbs, transfer to Alabama.
Instead, the Yellow Jackets will look to Dontae Smith to lead the offense. On defense, the secondary looks to be much improved with an influx of transfers in Notre Dame safety Khari Gee and cornerback KJ Wallace and Auburn transfer safeties Eric Reed and Ahmari Harvey. Georgia Tech could be asking that secondary to cover for a long time after losing Jared Ivey and Jordan Domineck from a defense that already ranked 117th in the country in total defense and 100th in sacks.
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