Georgia football head coach Kirby Smart walks out onto the field before the University of Georgia vs. Louisiana State University football game on Saturday, October 13, 2018, in Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The Tigers led the Bulldogs 16-0 at the half.

The Georgia football team has a new nonconference opponent on its 2026 schedule.

Western Kentucky announced on Monday it will visit Sanford Stadium on Sept. 12, 2026 — one week after the UCLA Bruins pay a visit to Athens. 

Unlike UCLA, the Hilltoppers will probably not be a marquee matchup for the Bulldogs.  A member of Conference USA, Western Kentucky finished 3-9 last year and 6-7 the year prior. The team won its conference championship in 2016 when it went 11-3. 

Former Tennessee offensive coordinator Tyson Helton will be taking over the reins this season as Western Kentucky's head coach.

Western Kentucky athletic director Todd Stewart said the regional matchup will give the team's fans an opportunity to travel to Athens. 

"We always seek to compete against the best, and there's no doubt that traveling to Georgia and playing in that kind of environment is a tremendous and exciting challenge," Stewart said. "The state of Georgia is a recruiting hotbed and strong focus for our coaching staff, so this is a significant opportunity for everyone involved."

The only other time the two schools have faced off was in the 2006 season opener, when Georgia beat Western Kentucky 48-12.

The amount of money Georgia will be paying Western Kentucky for the 2026 matchup is unknown at this time. 

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