No. 12 Arkansas Razorbacks (2-0, 0-1 ATS) at Georgia Bulldogs (1-1, 1-1 ATS), Week 3 NCAA Football, Saturday September 18th, 12:00PM Eastern Sanford Stadium, G.A.
By Jay Horne, College Football Handicapper of Predictem.com
Betting Odds: Ark +3/UGA -3
The Georgia Bulldogs host the no. 12 Arkansas Razorbacks between the hedges this Saturday. The Bulldogs attempt to rebound after a frustrating 17-6 loss to now no. 12 South Carolina on the road last week. Now Georgia, who expects to be in the middle of the wide open SEC East race, must rebound to avoid a 0-2 SEC start for the first time in the Mark Richt era. The team that is trying to hand the Bulldogs that second straight conference loss will be the visiting Razorbacks who are poised with the SEC’s most dangerous passing offense.
Arkansas QB Ryan Mallett was listed as a pre-season Heisman hopeful and has yet to disappoint in his opening two starts behind center. The Razorbacks have not exactly been tested considering their opening contests were against the likes of Tennessee Tech and Louisiana-Monroe. However, Mallett has still racked up 701 yards and 6 touchdowns in just two outings for the Razorbacks passing attack. Mallett led the SEC in passing a year ago and returns a trio of talented wide outs on the outside that should give opposing pass defenses nightmares all season long.
Last week junior WR Greg Childs caught 12 passes for 142 yards and 2 touchdowns. Along with Childs, wide outs Joe Adams and Jarius Wright are all big time threats in the passing offense. All 3 standouts compiled over 2,000 yards with 19 touchdowns in 2009 and are expected to be even better in 2010. Childs may be the best of the 3 standouts, but both Adams and Wright have the ability to be difference makers in the outcome. The big question is how the Georgia defense will stack up against the mighty Arkansas passing attack?
One important factor when battling any big time quarterback is getting pressure on them up front on defense. Despite the loss last week, the Bulldogs recorded 5 sacks against South Carolina and silenced a pretty solid passing offense. Georgia must again get some serious pressure from their defensive line to help out the secondary. If Mallett has time to scan the field, the Bulldogs secondary will be over matched from the talented Arkansas wide outs.
However, as stated before the Bulldogs were very solid against South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier organized passing attack. The only troubling aspect from the Bulldogs defense last week was the near 200 yards allowed on the ground. Georgia had a tough time wrapping up South Carolina tailbacks last week giving up a ton of yardage after initial contact. Now do not expect Arkansas to come out with any type of power running attack in this game, but those tackling concerns could be a problem especially if the defensive backs do not quickly bring down those talented Arkansas receivers.
On the offensive side of the ball, Georgia was very consistent behind QB Aaron Murray last week. Murray was very poised in his SEC opening debut completing 14 of 21 passes for 192 yards. However, there were just missed opportunities that kept the Bulldogs out of the end zone. One of the looming factors on offense is the team is still without superstar WR A.J. Green who is still serving a 4 game suspension for NCAA rules violations. However, we must note that Georgia is appealing the suspension in hopes to getting Green back this week but a decision has not been made at this time.
If the Bulldogs do get Green back in the lineup, Georgia becomes a much more difficult offense to defend with such a large threat on the outside. Still with or without Green, the Bulldogs must establish the running game early against the Razorbacks. One of those missed opportunities previously mentioned for Georgia came from tailback Washaun Ealey who fumbled the ball inside the 10 yard line last week which kept the Bulldogs from scoring a touchdown. Ealey rushed 75 yards on 19 attempts in his first game in the back field for Georgia and has some explosiveness that was noticeable as well. Look for Georgia to use him even more this week. The Bulldogs success may rely on their ground and pound attack which of course would help keep the Arkansas offense off the field. Georgia’s chances increase with the more time they chew off the clock and that must be a focus for Richt’s gameplan.
Jay’s pick to cover the point spread: I really like Georgia to win this game. The Bulldogs chances at the SEC East nearly disappear with a loss here. With extra motivation and the home crowd getting rowdy, I expect the defense to play very well. I laid a huge pick on South Carolina over Georgia last week and laying a big rebound bet here with the Bulldogs. Good luck.