Georgia Bulldogs (10-3) at North Carolina Tar Heels (11-3)
|Date & Time||Saturday September 3, 2016, 12:00 AM (EDT)|
Georgia Bulldogs -2.5 Over/Under 54.5
The Georgia Dome in Atlanta will come alive on Saturday, September 3 as the North Carolina Tar Heels and the Georgia Bulldogs open up their college football seasons.
North Carolina is coming off a pretty successful season, even if it didn’t end the way they wanted it to. The Tar Heels made it to the ACC championship game (a loss to Clemson) and the Russell Athletic Bowl (a loss to Baylor). Fifth-year head coach Larry Fedora will try to improve on that outcome this season.
The North Carolina offense was pretty successful in both disciplines last year, posting a 262.2 YPG average through the air and a 224.7 YPG average on the ground. Mitch Trubisky will take over for Marquise Williams at QB this season for the Tar Heels. Trubisky logged a nice 85.1 completion percentage last year to go with his 555 yards and six touchdowns. RB Elijah Hood will be back as well; Hood managed 218 carries for 1463 yards and a whopping 17 touchdowns in 2015 for North Carolina. Ryan Switzer is also returning as one of the Tar Heels’ leading wide receivers, coming off 54 grabs for 693 yards and six touchdowns a year ago.
If the Tar Heels had one weakness in 2015, it was rush defense. The team allowed an average of 247.8 YPG, alongside a comparatively low 188.1 passing YPG. The good news is that safety Donnie Miles will be back out there this season. Miles logged a team-high 128 total tackles in his last campaign for North Carolina.
Meanwhile, the Bulldogs put up a 10-3 record overall last year, and a 5-3 mark in the ACC. Georgia made it to the TaxSlayer Bowl, where they eked out a win over Penn State. With Mark Richt out, Kirby Smart will take the helm this season as head coach.
On offense, Georgia had success rushing in 2015, putting up 190.4 YPG. Conversely, the Bulldogs struggled with the pass, averaging just 185.1 yards per game. Greyson Lambert returns to quarterback this season, coming off 1959 yards and a 12:2 TD:INT ratio last season. Nick Chubb steps into the lead RB role, and if he stays healthy he’ll certainly better his 747 yards and seven touchdowns on 92 carries he put up in 2015 for Georgia. Terry Godwin may see a bigger role as well; look for Godwin to improve on his 35 catches and 379 yards from last season.
The Bulldogs defense was successful against opposing passers, averaging 156.5 yards passing per game. Georgia was also decent against the run with a 149 YPG average. The team will look quite a bit different on defense this year, as their top four leading tacklers are gone. Safety Quincy Mauger will have to step up and aim for a mark near his 58 tackles last season for Georgia.
The Bulldogs are 4-1 ATS in their last five games overall, and 4-1 ATS in their last five against the ACC. Georgia is also 5-2 ATS in their last seven games on fieldturf, and 7-3 ATS in their last 10 non-conference games.
Meanwhile, North Carolina is 3-7 ATS in their last 10 non-conference games, and 2-7 ATS in their last nine games in September. The Tar Heels are 0-4 ATS in their last four neutral site games, and 0-4 ATS in their last four games on fieldturf.
This should be a pretty close game, as the lines indicate. The spread here isn’t too bad, though. I like Georgia to get an early lead and sit on it, however, so give me the Bulldogs to cover handily.