GEORGIA (6-4, 4-4 SEC) vs. UL LAFAYETTE (4-5, 3-3 SBC)
With wins over Kentucky followed by Auburn, the Bulldogs seemingly put together back-to-back impressive performances for the first time this season. Wearing black jerseys for the first time in over eight years, Georgia will attempt to make it three notable outings in a row when it hosts UL Lafayette at noon tomorrow. Besides playing what appears to be their best ball of the year, the Dawgs certainly cannot sleep on the Ragin’ Cajuns, which feature ex-LSU quarterback Anthony Jennings and one of the better run defenses in the country. In 2010—the teams’ only previous meeting—Georgia evidently wasn’t looking past UL Lafayette as the Bulldogs drubbed the Cajuns, 55-7. Six years later, it appears the odds-makers are expecting the home team to handle its business once again against the visitors as the Dogs are currently 23-point favorites.
- Tomorrow will mark the fourth time in its history Georgia will wear black jerseys. The three previous occasions the Dogs donned black tops: wins over Auburn and Hawaii (Sugar Bowl) during the 2007 season, and a loss to Alabama in 2008.
- Over the last five years, Georgia has been rather disappointing when considered a significant favorite. Beginning during the 2011 season and entering tomorrow, although the Bulldogs are a perfect 15-0 when favored by 20 points or more, they have a 4-11 record against the spread in the 15 contests.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
When the Dogs Have the Ball: Allowing only 118 rushing yards per game and approximately three yards per carry this season, UL Lafayette’s defense could force Georgia to pass more frequently than anticipated. Still, as good as the Ragin’ Cajuns are against the run, they’re as bad against the pass; therefore, Bulldog QB Jacob Eason could have a big day. In his first six games at Georgia, the freshman signal-caller had an efficiency rating of 111.95, including eight touchdown passes and five interceptions, and he was sacked 13 times. However, in the last four games, Eason’s rating improved to 124.47, including remarkably not being intercepted in 135 pass attempts, while getting sacked just five times. UL Lafayette has allowed 7.6 yards per pass attempt while making just five interceptions in over 300 attempts.
When the Ragin’ Cajuns Have the Ball: Although electing to transfer out of LSU when he was benched in favor of another signal-caller, Anthony Jennings had a few notable performances while quarterbacking the Tigers in 2014; namely, a spectacular passing game in a season-opening victory over Wisconsin, and an extraordinary running performance in LSU’s final regular-season game—a win on the road versus Texas A&M. After sitting out a year, Jennings is completing more than 62 percent of his passes, while chipping in more than 200 net yards rushing, and is responsible for 13 touchdowns. Although Georgia’s defense has been strong against the run, it has especially been unrelenting versus the pass of late. After allowing most of their first six opponents to at times seemingly pass at will, the Bulldogs have yielded just 399 passing yards on 41-of-86 passes, only one touchdown and have intercepted three passes in their last four games.
Special Teams: Last week, an unsung big play resulted when Georgia’s Isaiah McKenzie, who entered averaging less than six yards per punt return in the previous six games, ran back a 20-yarder, which led to a score, against an Auburn coverage unit which had yielded just two punt returns for minus-three yards all season. This week, the Bulldogs encounter a similar situation with UL Lafayette’s punter Steven Coutts, who is averaging more than 44 yards per boot while only five of his punts have been returned, which ranks tied for the fourth-fewest in the entire FBS. However, when his punts have been returnable, the Ragin’ Cajuns are allowing 19.6 yards per return, or the fourth-highest/worst average in the FBS.
I expect UL Lafayette’s Jennings and the team’s run defense to probably keep them in the game into the second, maybe even the third quarter. Also, there certainly is something to Georgia’s recent struggles when recognized as a significant favorite. Still, the Bulldogs’ defense has been absolutely stifling of late and it, coupled with what should be a successful passing game, will allow black-jerseyed Georgia to pull away in the second half for a somewhat comfortable win. Georgia 31 – ULL 13