Big schools still play each other non-conference, when corporations and television networks set them up at a neutral site, handle the logistics and finagle enough cash to coax them out from their hermit shells. Boise State is a BCS title contender, provided enough teams in front of them lose and their record stays perfect. Georgia will try to rouse itself from a two year coma of mediocrity. A win here is vital for both programs.
The Hot Seat: Mark Richt has six 10-win seasons at Georgia, but the Bulldogs have not finished ranked in the Top 25 since 2008. Last year’s 6-7 finish and ugly bowl performance worsened an already present malaise. It’s not about wins, but statements of intent. Boise State and South Carolina the first two weeks are his real opportunities to make them. Richt must set the tone early, because, reliant on inexperienced players, the wrong results could inspire a death spiral that ends up costing him his job.
Eyesores: Nike designers have infiltrated their way into both schools, who will be letting their freaky pro combat flags fly. Georgia will be going all-red. Boise will be going all-white. The asymmetrical sleeves are making a comeback Fans will just be thankful it’s not on the blinding blue field.
Boise On Offense: Boise should have a strong running game, returning unheralded Doug Martin and a strong offensive line led by All-American candidate left tackle Nate Potter. Kellen Moore loses Pettis and Young, both NFL draft picks, but has been assassin throughout his career and there’s no reason to expect a shocking decline. Georgia struggled against the run last year and they are going to rely a lot on JUCO-Nose Tackle John Jenkins, as they break in three new linebacker starters. That seems like an area Boise will be able to exploit.
Georgia On Offense: The Bulldogs will place a lot on Aaron Murray’s shoulders, as they’ve had incredible attrition on the offensive line and at running back. He is probably the SEC’s best quarterback, but his value is in his potential, not his experience. Junior Richard Samuel will be the starter at running back, after moving back over from linebacker. They’re short on proven quality at receiver (and lost A.J. Green), but have enough young talent that some serviceable receivers should emerge to pair with Orson Charles. The offensive line could be exploited by Boise’s relentless and well-rotated defensive line.
Prediction: Georgia has de facto home-field and an overall talent advantage, but they must play a perfect game and get help from their special teams to pull off this upset. I’m not sure I see it. Boise State wins and covers, 30-21.
[Photo via Getty]