North Carolina Tarheels (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) vs. Georgia Bulldogs (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
College Football Week 1
Date/Time: Saturday, September 3rd, 5:30pm
Where: Georgia Dome - Atlanta, GA
by Bob, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: UNC +3 / UGA -3
Over/Under Total: 56
It feels great to finally be writing about the upcoming college football games! The time has come, the countdown is over, college football is BACK! My first prediction for the 2016 season will be the annual Chic-Fil-A Kickoff Game which will be played between the North Carolina Tarheels of the ACC and the Georgia Bulldogs of the SEC. This will be the first time these two teams met since the 1971 Gator Bowl and it will be the 31st all time meeting with Georgia leading the all time series 16-12-2. Both teams come in ranked in the nations top 25 with Georgia a tad higher at 18th while the Tarheels enter with a ranking of 22nd. Both of these programs had good 2015 seasons, but neither was able to bring home a conference title. In 2016, Georgia and UNC are both holding high expectations and a huge out of conference win in week one would be a great way to start things headed into the rest of the season.
As for the line on this game, the Georgia Bulldogs open as a three point favorite over the Tarheels. This is considered a neutral site, but we all know a game in the Georgia Dome is not a neutral place when you are playing the University of Georgia which is located just an hour or so away from the dome. The place will be packed with red and black and barking fans. The Tarheels have a decent fanbase, but lets go ahead and just call Georgia "the home favorite." The total points line was not released til just a few days ago and it now sits at 56 combined points. The very early action appears to be about even. Georgia is getting 54% of the action over UNC at this time. I predict that even at kickoff this line will not have shifted and by 5:15 on September 3rd we will still be looking at a three point spread in favor of the Bulldogs.
For the first time since 2001, the Georgia Bulldogs will be coached by someone other than Mark Richt. Georgia fired Richt after failing to meet the expectations of fans and alumni over the last few seasons. Three straight years, Georgia was the favorite to win a very weak SEC East division and they failed to do so in all three due to losses to much more inferior opponents. Well, now we enter the Kirby Smart Era at the University of Georgia. Kirby Smart is a former Bulldog himself but has spent much of his coaching career working on the staff of Alabama's Nick Saban. Kirby gets much of the credit for the hard nosed defenses that Alabama has fielded over the last few seasons and was a key part of the Crimson Tide's national title runs. Now Kirby Smart, for the first time, is the head man in charge. Smart has come into Georgia like a gang buster and is snatching up every five star recruit that Alabama wanted and Georgia and Alabama have already had beef over the transfer issue of Maurice Smith from Alabama to Georgia. There is a rivalry brewing already and if Georgia and Alabama meet in the SEC Championship game in December, it will be a war. Before we can think about the title game though, Smart must get the Dawgs over the hump and again win the Eastern division. The question marks entering this game is not only the health of running back, Nick Chubb, which appears to be 100%, but also the major question in Athens, Georgia the last six months has been "Who will start at quarterback?" Well, as of yesterday, it appears that the Dawgs will rely on the arm of true freshman quarterback, Jacob Eason. Eason has been the talk of Athens ever since he made a verbal commitment to play for Georgia two years ago. Now, it's his time to shine. Georgia is the favorite in this game, but it will take a great effort from both the offense and defense to get past the Heels in this one. It would be a great start to the Kirby Smart Era.
North Carolina made it all the way to the ACC Title game last season only to lose to Clemson who was the National Champion runner up. UNC's offense was ranked 9th in the FBS averaging just over 40 points per game and many think that this offense could be even more deadly. With running back, Elijah Hood, a group of fast and explosive receivers, and junior quarterback, Mitch Trubisky, the Tar Heels should pick up right where they left off in 2015. Trubisky has waited three years behind Marquis Williams and now the keys to the car have been handed to him. The offense should not see much drop off and if they can get rolling early on the fast turf of the Georgia Dome, then things could get ugly for Georgia. As for the defense, the UNC fans better hope it has improved. The last time North Carolina took the field was in the Russell Athletic Bowl against Baylor. Baylor was down their starting quarterback, running back, and wide out and still managed over 700 yards of total offense in the win over the Heels. If the Carolina defense plays like this, Nick Chubb may go for 300 yards on them Saturday night. The key to UNC having a chance to win....DEFENSE.
As a Georgia fan and an avid follower of SEC football, it seems like the easy pick is the take Georgia but I have a feeling this game will be a battle all the way to the end. However, with that said, I will still take Georgia. I feel top to bottom, they just flat out have more talent, I also think the home crowd will make it nearly a legit "home game." Again, it will not be easy, but I like Georgia to pull this one out something like 31-26.
Bob's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Take the Georgia Bulldogs -3 and over the posted total of 56.
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