College Football Pick
It may be early, but this one Game could decide the fate of both of these teams this season. North Carolina rebounded after an opening loss last year, but may have been in the College Football Playoff had they not lost. As for Georgia, expectations are always high and this year that remains the same with Kirby Smart now in charge. The Bulldogs can’t afford a loss in non-Conference play because a loss or two is almost expected in the SEC. Playing at a neutral-site, although a basic home Game in Atlanta, the Bulldogs are a -2.5 point favorite as seen at 5dimes Sportsbook.
Starting with Georgia, a must for them is improving on the offensive end after poor play a season ago, averaging 26.3 points per Game. However, Kirby Smart still hadn’t named a starting quarterback two weeks before the season, but that job will likely go to Greyson LAmbert (2015 starter), freshman Jacob Eason or Brice Ramsey. Without being much of a threat through the air last year, the Bulldogs couldn’t compete with the better teams in the conference, most notably losing 38-10 to Alabama.
Of course, the Bulldogs are built upon a great ground Game, but after an injury to Nick Chubb, they didn’t have that same threat with Sony Michel leading the way. But with Chubb expected to be ready for the opener, Georgia could be back to its run-dominating ways and this is the perfect matchup to do so.
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The Tar Heels were absolutely horrible against the run last year, finishing last in the ACC, allowing 247.4 yards per Game. With three returning starters on the line, they’ll probably improve some this season, but this is not the team they wanted to see in the opener. If Chubb can get back to his prior levels, watch out because this could be a 200-yard Game for him. It’s worth noting he still went for 146 yards and a touchdown in the 28-point loss to ‘Bama last year.
On the other side, the Bulldogs have a lot of young guys and new faces, especially in the front seven and that could in turn be an issue against this high-flying UNC offense. Running back Elijah Hood ran for 1,463 yards and 17 TDs a year ago and will be a big focal point in this offense yet again. And while Mitch Trubisky is an inexperienced quarterback, he’ll be expected to use his legs quite a bit, similar to what Marquise Williams did.
To help Trubisky, he has a few more options in the passing Game than Georgia with seniors all over including Ryan Switzer, Bug Howard and MACk Hollins. The Bulldogs had a great defense last year, but didn’t face that many elite offenses, and when they did, they allowed big points to Alabama and Tennessee.
Even with new or mediocre QBs on both sides of the field, there could be a decent amount of points, as both teams should run the ball just fine. But it may come down to what quarterback has it in him to lead a Game-winning drive. The Bulldogs are slight favorites and with the better defense, may be the team to back, but UNC’s offense could cause problems from the start.
If we were to roll the clock back to last year, and these teams were to face off in January, we would have made the Game a pick em. The trick here, is to evaluate which team, as a result of new players coming up and returning starters, is more likely to improve. Never an easy task. North Carolina +2.5