- Associated Press - Thursday, September 1, 2016

No. 18 Georgia (10-3 last season) vs. No. 22 North Carolina (11-3) in Atlanta, 5:30 p.m. (ESPN)

Line: Georgia by 2½.

Series Record: Georgia leads 16-12-2.

WHAT’S AT STAKE

For the first time in 15 years, Georgia has a new coach on the sidelines. After firing Mark Richt, the Bulldogs turned to Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart in hopes of taking the underachieving program to a championship level. North Carolina is coming off an 11-win season that included an appearance in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game, but the Tar Heels could use a defining win under fifth-year coach Larry Fedora to build some national momentum.

KEY MATCHUP

Georgia RB Nick Chubb vs. North Carolina’s run defense. Chubb is coming back from a gruesome knee injury sustained less than a year ago, and it will be interesting to see if he’s still the same dynamic back after making a faster-than-expected recovery. The Tar Heels went from awful to adequate in Year 1 under defensive coordinator Gene Chizik, though the focus in 2016 is improving a run defense that ranked 121st nationally last year (247.4 yards per game).

PLAYERS TO WATCH

North Carolina: WR Ryan Switzer. With big-play threat Mack Hollins suspended for the first half, Switzer could be the Tar Heels’ best weapon in the passing game. The senior has returned seven punts for touchdowns, one shy of the NCAA record.

Georgia: QB Jacob Eason. Greyson Lambert, a fifth-year senior, started 12 games last season and the Bulldogs finally announced Thursday that he is still the No. 1 quarterback. But Eason is a highly touted freshman that fans are clamoring to see, and it seems only a matter of time before he claims the job.

FACTS & FIGURES

The Bulldogs last opened the season at the Georgia Dome in 2011, losing to Boise State 35-21 in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game. … The Tar Heels averaged program records of 40.7 points and 486.9 yards on offense in 2015. … This will be the first meeting between the teams since the 1971, when Georgia defeated North Carolina 7-3 in the Gator Bowl. … The Bulldogs are breaking in four new starters at linebacker. … Chubb tied Herschel Walker’s school record with 13 straight 100-yard rushing games until his season-ending knee injury against Tennessee. … North Carolina TB Elijah Hood was third in the ACC last year in rushing (1,463 yards) to go with 17 touchdowns.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide