Last season, the Georgia Bulldogs smashed defensive records on their way to earning the title.
This year, they will see what it is like to be on the top of the mountain while every team tries to pull you down.
Oregon Ducks vs. Georgia Bulldogs
Saturday, September 03, 2022 – 03:30 PM EDT at Mercedes Benz Superdome
The first attempt to take Georgia down, will come from the Oregon Ducks, a team with changes across the board. Mario Cristobal left for Miami, leaving the Ducks without a head coach. They hired Dan Lanning, the former defensive coordinator of the Georgia Bulldogs. Lanning’s first game as a head coach will be against his mentor and former team, a rare challenge.
Oregon also has Bo Nix under center. Lanning used to gameplan against Nix when he was the quarterback at Auburn, but he now will be working alongside him to stump a former rival.
Georgia is favored by three scores, but can they cover the spread? Here is a breakdown of what to expect from these two teams in the Week 1 opener in Atlanta.
Who will cover the spread? Will we see a shootout? Here’s what you need to know before betting on this game.
The Home-Field Advantage
While this is a neutral site, the game will be played in the state of Georgia. Most Bulldogs fans will go to this game, while Oregon fans have to travel across the country to watch a game where the team is an underdog.
Oregon will have a split of tickets, but the likelihood of Ducks fans filling up half the stadium is incredibly low. Because of that, Georgia will be treated like a home team on a neutral field.
Also, Georgia has a familiarity with this stadium. The Bulldogs played in the Mercedes Benz Superdome in the SEC Championship last season. Despite losing that game, the team knows what to expect in terms of the logistics. Comfortability in a stadium is an underrated aspect of college football.
Now, let’s look at what the Bulldogs are dealing with on their own sideline
Replacing a Championship Roster
Georgia brings back some key players from last year, but the squad has to replace almost every starter from last year’s defense. The interior of the defensive line will be filled with fresh faces, and Nakobe Dean will no longer roam the field.
On offense, Georgia has to replace George Pickens and both running backs. They retain Stetson Bennett, but will he hold onto the starting job for a third straight season?
Some key contributors from last year’s defense will see more reps, and Georgia will have the best defensive tackle in the country. Still, a lot of players have big shoes to fill.
This is what happened to LSU after the 2019 season, and the Tigers could not rebound. Georgia is in a better position, but it’s not easy to replace a championship roster with this much turnover.
Oregon’s QB Situation
Bo Nix has not been officially named the starter, but he did transfer to Oregon this offseason. Most transfers lack a quarterback competition, and Kirby Smart has hinted at the fact that Nix is who he’s preparing to see on Saturday.
Is this a ploy by Lanning, or will Nix start the season on the bench? If I had to guess, I would expect Nix to start on Saturday. He has experience as a starting quarterback, and he knows how to prepare against Georgia.
He saw limited success with the Tigers, but he still has enough upside to start in this game. His veteran experience goes a long way, and I see him playing a key role in this game.
Time for Picks
In his first game as a head coach, I don’t see Lanning upsetting the reigning national champions and his former boss. The stage will simply be too large for this team to compete.
However, Georgia’s offense has a history of slow starts to begin college football seasons. With high expectations and new faces at key positions, I expect Georgia to win a low-scoring game.
That hints at the under-hitting and Oregon covering, and those are my picks.
Georgia will use the tight ends and score a few touchdowns, but this will be a low-scoring game as a whole that remains close into the second half. Georgia pulls away in the end, but don’t expect a blowout by the reigning champs.
NCAAF Picks: Oregon +17.5 (-110) at BetMGM
NCAAF Picks: Under 53.5 (-110) at FanDuel