This year's Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game will bring plenty of intrigue, not just because it will feature Georgia and Oregon, who have played only once, which saw the Bulldogs beat the Ducks 27-16 in 1977. This season's matchup will see an increased familiarity between two programs located on opposite sides of the country.
First-year Oregon head coach Dan Lanning spent four seasons in Athens, working under head coach Kirby Smart as the outside linebackers coach in 2018 before being promoted to the defensive coordinator role from 2019 through 2021. Lanning's top-ranked defense helped guide the Bulldogs to a national championship. The former Georgia defensive coordinator now inherits a program from now Miami head coach Mario Cristobal that established itself as a contender in the Pac-12 after winning two North division titles in four seasons.
In a recent article by ESPN, they went over five games in September that they "can't wait to see," one of them being Georgia-Oregon. The Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game ranked second behind Notre Dame at Ohio State, the primetime game that weekend and will be the site of ESPN's College Gameday.
"The defending national champions open up their season in Atlanta (probably the closest you can get to a neutral-site home game) against a Pac-12 favorite in Oregon. The Ducks will have some familiarity with the Bulldogs with Dan Lanning as their head coach, who just left Georgia after leading an all-time great defense that produced five first-round NFL draft picks."
- ESPN Staff
With a 3:30 PM (EST) kickoff set to be broadcasted by ABC, Lanning will become just the third former assistant coach to take on Georgia head coach Kirby Smart, joining the likes of Arkansas head coach Sam Pittman and South Carolina headman Shane Beamer. No former Kirby Smart assistant has beaten him in three tries; Pittman came close in 2020, holding a 7-5 halftime lead over the Bulldogs in the season-opening game. However, Georgia would score 32 points in the second half to defeat the Razorbacks 37-10.
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