This game is hard to figure in terms of a final score prediction. Their offense can scores points in bunches, but their defense allows points in bunches. Our offense scored effortlessly at times last season, but Stafford, Moreno and Massaquoi are gone to the NFL. Our defense was terrible at times last year, but will most assuredly be improved.
Here is what I expect... Both teams will score early making it look like it could be a high scoring affair. But, our strategy to slow the game down with our road-paving offensive line and bruising teen-age tailback will start to wear on the OSU defense and will keep their offense safely on the sideline. This will go on for long stretches of clock and by half-time, the score will be something like UGA 10 - OSU 10.
In the second half, after relentless pounding by our pleasingly deep offensive and defensive lines, the battle of the trenches will have been won and we will own the line of scrimmage. Accordingly, we will be able to force our will when we have the football and will turn them strictly one-dimensional when they have the football. When that happens, we score and they don't.
I always expect a Mark Richt - Mike Bobo offense to be balanced on offense and that typically yields about 2/3 running plays and 1/3 passing plays. This means about 45 runs and 25 passes. Richard Samuel will have about 25 carries and will average more than 5 yards per carry - netting him over 125 yards rushing and probably closer to 250 yards. The other 20 carries will be divided among Carlton Thomas, Shaun Chapas, Logan Gray and maybe a Branden Smith end around type play. I am most confident that we will rush for over 200 yards. Once we have OSU adjust to try and stop the run, Joe Cox will have much more opportunity to find open receivers off of play action. Since Gray will also have a few throws, I will say that the two will combine for about 15 completions on 25 throws for about 220 yards. There are going to be a few short passes that get turned into big gains. With all of this offensive output, I would expect us to score 34 points if we don't have crucial penalties and if we win the turnover battle.
When OSU has the ball, they will not be able to run in the middle - at all. So if they run on us at all, it will have to be on the outside - which Tech proved possible last December. However, I think we will have much improved discipline in our execution on defense and I expect us to hold their rushing game down around the 100-125 yard mark. So, if they are going to move the ball, it will have to be in the air. I think they have some success early, but when they are unable to establish their running game, we will adjust to limit the effectiveness of their Robinson to Dez Bryant passing attack. They may still throw for 250 yards, but most will be in the first quarter or between the 20's. By turning them one-dimensional, we will force them to try more field goals and have less real TD opportunities. Unless they score on special teams or with their defense, we will hold them under 24 points.
So, under the best scenario, I would have us winning 34 to 20. However, I will factor in that we are on the road with a new starting QB and TB against the preseason #9 team. I hope I am wrong about this, but I feel we might miss a couple of opportunities to really pull away in this one and will have to settle with grinding out a 30 - 24 win.
Dawgs 30 - Poke 24.
GO DAWGS! GATA!!!