Beginning the year as a sure contender for the first-ever College Football Playoff seemed like too much pressure for Mark Richt and the Georgia Bulldogs. While a nine-win season is nothing to be upset about, it is yet another disappointing result for Richt’s team. If you’re the Louisville Cardinals, you have to be excited for this matchup, ready to show the nation what you’re made of.
Georgia’s offense hasn’t quite been the same with Hutson Mason under center and no Todd Gurley to be seen. However, Mason proved to be very accurate this season, passing for 2,019 yards, 20 touchdowns and just four interceptions while completing a solid 68 percent of his passes. As for Gurley, his season was cut short because of a suspension as well as a knee injury as he finished his season with 911 yards and nine touchdowns on 7.4 yards per carry. Freshman running back Nick Chubb did a stellar job in his absence, rushing for 1,281 yards and 12 touchdowns on 6.9 yards per rush. Chris Conley led the team in receiving with 577 yards and seven scores on 32 catches.
Louisville’s quarterback situation wasn’t nearly as set in stone as the Cardinals shuffled through three different quarterbacks this year. First it was Will Gardner, then he gave way and split time with Reggie Bonnafron before allowing freshman Kyle Bolin to start the final game of the year — and impress. Gardner led the way, however, passing for 1,669 yards, 12 touchdowns and just three interceptions. DeVante Parker was the receiver of choice for all quarterbacks involved, catching 35 passes for 735 yards and five touchdowns this year. Brandon Radcliff led the run game with 648 yards and 11 scores while Michael Dyer was a secret weapon, rushing for 481 yards and five touchdowns.
Defensively, Georgia has been a much-improved unit this season, ranking 25th in points allowed and 18th in total yards allowed per game. Louisville, just like last season, has owned one of the best defensive units in the country, ranking 18th in points surrendered and sixth nationally in total yards given up per game.
When: 6:30 p.m. EST on Tuesday, Dec. 30
Where: Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C.
PREDICTION: Georgia 34, Louisville 17
Want to see Georgia take on Louisville in the Belk Bowl? Check out ScoreBig for tickets.
Connor Muldowney is a columnist for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @Connormuldowney, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google. You can also reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.