The Georgia Bulldogs are trying to get back to national relevance in 2016. Playing in a stacked SEC doesn’t help any, and it also didn’t help when your best offensive player snaps his leg early in the season. Nick Chubb suffered a gruesome leg injury against Tennessee, leaving Georgia without their workhorse for the remainder of the season. The Bulldogs are a run first to open up the pass kind of team, and without Chubb, the offense took some time to figure it out. The injury was reminiscence of Marcus Lattimore tearing his knee in his last season at South Carolina. Lattimore was expected to put up massive numbers in his final year and go on to be the next feature back in the NFL. The 49ers took a gamble on him in the draft, but he was unable to get back to his pre-injury status.
Chubb is back in the Georgia offense looking to make up for lost time. It’s difficult to forecast how a guy is going to react to a significant injury. Practice is one thing, but when the bullets start to fly, it gets a little more interesting. Players tend to be a little more hesitant, trying to protect their surgically repaired knee after an injury like this, so I’m going to be watching how he comes out of the gates. Georgia is quite content playing an ugly brand of football and winning the 23-14, 27-17 kind of ball games. They are still an old school SEC team that likes to run the ball effectively and wear out the opposing offense with a stifling defense.
The Bulldogs won five of five to close out the season, leading into bigger expectations from them in the SEC. They concluded the 2015 season with a record of 10-3, including a win over Penn State in their bowl game. It looks like a nice record, but Georgia lost the big ones against Tennessee, Florida, and Alabama. Their biggest win came on the road against Auburn in November. It almost feels like they did much worse than 10-3, but when you lose all of your marquee games that perception does sort of come with it. Let’s get into this game deeper below, and look for a winner in Atlanta.
Georgia Bulldogs vs. North Carolina Tar Heels NCAAF Betting Odds:
vs. North Carolina +3(-110)
Odds provided by Bovada.lv
Georgia vs. North Carolina Pick:
The last we saw of North Carolina was in a bowl game against Baylor. They were there, but the defense definitely didn’t want to be playing in the Athletic Bowl. The Bears ran all over them, leaving the North Carolina offense in an impossible position to keep up with them. The quarterback situation for Baylor in that game was in shambles, but they didn’t need to throw the ball. The Tar Heels can’t have any more of that in 2016 or forget about playing for the ACC Championship. They were undoubtedly saddened by their loss in that game, a game which came down to the final seconds against Clemson. The North Carolina defense left everything on the field in that game and it showed against Baylor.
New quarterback at the controls for North Carolina this season. Marquise Williams departed for the NFL, so it leaves the Tar Heels going to Mitch Trubisky. Don’t sleep on Trubisky, who might be able to step right in and carry on from where Williams left off. Trubisky is a redshirt junior, who mainly watched and learned the last couple of years. When he did step in though, there were glimpses of the future for North Carolina. He tossed 6 touchdowns and 0 interceptions mostly in garbage time. Trusbisky will have his hardest test yet against the Georgia defense on Saturday.
This is a nice opportunity for Trubisky. Instead of getting babied over the first couple of weeks against far inferior schools, he’s going to get going as a starter against an SEC defense. He could build up a ton of confidence if he plays well against Georgia in Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game. Trubisky could play well, but his defense has to help him out.
North Carolina was gashed on the ground consistently a year ago, allowing an average of 247.5 yards per game. They allowed over 300 yards rushing against Baylor, Duke, NC State, and Clemson. You would think they’d be getting some experience back, but they only get three starters back on defense. The Georgia running backs are going to pound it up the middle and point it some more. I’m not high on Greyson Lambert, but he’s going to be able to throw against a defense stacking the box up front. If Lambert can complete a couple big plays down field, this could turn into a comfortable win for Georgia. The play action would work to perfection if this comes to fruition.
I just don’t know how the young and inexperienced defense of the Tar Heels is going to be able to get enough push up front to slow down Chubb and company. Trubisky will be making his first ever college football start against a Kirby Smart defense, who was previously the defensive coordinator at Alabama. Note that this one is at the Georgia Dome, so North Carolina isn’t actually the home team here. I think Georgia gets by North Carolina by a touchdown.
PICK: GEORGIA -3 (-110)