Division Dominance: Georgia vs. the SEC East Under Kirby Smart

Photo credit: Tony Walsh/Georgia athletics

Throughout the history of college football, there are several instances of a team having a stranglehold on its conference.

Under Bobby Bowden, Florida State won the ACC in each of its first nine seasons as a member and lost just two total conference games over that stretch. Last season, Clemson failed to win the conference for the first time in six years. The same was true for Oklahoma in the Big 12. From 2001 to 2009, Dan Hawkins and Chris Petersen led Boise State to eight conference titles in nine years in the WAC and Mountain West.

Under Steve Spurrier, Florida won seven SEC titles in 11 years from 1990 to 20000. Finally, how can we mention domination without bringing up Nick Saban? Since 2009, Alabama has won the SEC eight times and claimed six national titles. In last season’s national championship however, Saban’s Crimson Tide came up short to a program who may be on the cusp of dominating the SEC itself.

Georgia bounced back from an SEC title game loss to Alabama to win a rematch for its first national championship in 41 years. To dominate a conference in modern college football however, teams first have to win their division. Here’s a look at how the Bulldogs have fared against the SEC East under current head coach Kirby Smart:

Kirby Smart (2016-Present), SEC East Rundown

2017, 2018, 2019, 2021 SEC East champions

  • Florida: 4-2
  • Kentucky: 6-0
  • Missouri: 6-0
  • South Carolina: 5-1
  • Tennessee: 5-1
  • Vanderbilt: 4-1
  • OVERALL: 30-5

Anecdotal Notes: In four of the past six seasons, Georgia has won the SEC East. It is important to note that the Bulldogs did not play Vanderbilt during the 2020 season with multiple postponements and cancellations related to COVID-19.

Although Florida would have won the tiebreaker, Georgia would have likely rolled through the Commodores and claimed a share of the SEC East crown. That would have given the Bulldogs claim to at least a share of five consecutive SEC titles.

The majority of college football fans would agree that you cannot judge a collegiate coach by his first season. After an 8-5 campaign and going 4-4 in conference in 2016, Smart has only lost two games to SEC East opponents.

The most embarrassing of the two was a 20-17 double-overtime loss to a South Carolina team that would finish 4-8 in 2019. Georgia was No. 3 and would finish the season at No. 4. The other loss came in 2020 to Florida by a 44-28 score in a contest that would ultimately decide the division.

Total score vs. SEC East opponents since 2017: Georgia 1,072, SEC East 388

Shutouts vs. SEC East opponents since 2017: 4 (2017 at Tennessee, 2019 vs. Kentucky, 2019 vs. Missouri, 2021 at Vanderbilt)

Either way, Georgia has been completely dominant in the SEC East. As long as Smart stays in Athens, that’s a trend that could continue for the foreseeable future.