Ball State vs Georgia Odds & Prediction: Can Cardinals Cover Huge Spread?
Todd Kirkland/Getty Images. Pictured: Georgia head coach Kirby Smart.
Ball State vs Georgia Odds
Georgia looks to extend its win streak to 19 games when it takes on Ball State in Athens on Saturday.
Ball State opened up its season against another SEC foe in Kentucky in Week 1. The Cardinals looked like they were going to cover until this happened:
Just a reminder that if you need to let it out after a bad beat like Ball State (+25.5), we've got you covered ⤵️
📞 (959) BAD-BEATpic.twitter.com/MXcGHeBags
— Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) September 2, 2023
The Cards are projected to be a mid-level MAC team. While they're almost assuredly not going to win this game, they do have some talent that could help them cover.
Georgia took care of business in its opening game against Tennessee Martin, 41-7, but failed to cover as 50-point favorites.
The Bulldogs have one of the easiest schedules in the SEC, and they legitimately may not be tested until Nov. 18 when they travel to Knoxville to take on Tennessee.
They have South Carolina on deck, so it's all about about getting past Ball State on Saturday.
Ball State lost its opener to Kentucky, 44-14, and we saw two different quarterbacks in Texas State transfer Layne Hatcher and true freshman Kadin Semonza.
At the time of writing, Mike Neu has not named a starter and has said both quarterbacks — along with rushing threat Kiael Kelly — will see action against Georgia.
Ball State head coach Mike Neu said the starting QB decision for Saturday's game at Georgia will be made later this week, but true freshman Kadin Semonza will play. Semonza took over for Layne Hatcher vs. Kentucky. Kiael Kelly should continue to have a role as a rushing threat.
— College Football QB Newsletter (@GunslingerBuzz) September 5, 2023
He hasn't named a starter because Semonza was slinging it after he took over for Hatcher, going 15-of-20 for 166 yards and a touchdown. However, whoever sees action is going to struggle against one of the best secondaries in the nation.
Ball State really struggled to run the ball against Kentucky, averaging just 1.8 yards per carry.
The unit should improve, though, as Neu landed first-team All-MAC running back Marquez Cooper from Kent State in the offseason.
Cooper stands at just 5-foot-7 but is incredibly difficult to tackle. He forced 81 missed tackles and had 43 runs over 10 yards last season. Both of those numbers were good enough to rank top-10 in the country.
— Kent State Football (@KentStFootball) November 4, 2021
The Ball State defense did a great job limiting big plays and defending in its own territory last year. The Cardinals ranked 12th in explosiveness allowed and 41st in Finishing Drives Allowed.
They return seven starters, with the majority coming back in their front seven. The main problem is that their secondary could get torched in this game.
What more can you say about Georgia other than it's now the best program in the country?
There are some new faces on the offensive side of the ball, as Stetson Bennett has finally moved onto the NFL. That means last year's backup, Carson Beck, will take over as the starting quarterback.
Beck was close to perfect in mop-up duty last season, going 26-of-35 for 310 yards and four touchdowns. He wasn't a top-tier recruit coming out of high school as a four-star prospect and the fifth-ranked pro-style quarterback.
He put up a solid performance against Tennessee Martin, but there are a few concerning signs. He went just 3-of-12 on throws over 10 yards and put up a PFF passing grade of just 68.8, which you'd expect to be better considering he was pressured on only three of his 35 dropbacks against an FCS defense.
Georgia's top running back, Daijun Edwards, missed the opener, but at the time of writing, it looks like he's probable to play in this game.
Edwards was a beast last season, averaging 5.5 yards per carry in tandem with Kenny McIntosh. With Edwards being the lead back now, he should be able to flourish, but I wouldn't be surprised if Kirby Smart limits his carries.
The Georgia defense was incredible last season outside of one game against Ohio State. The Bulldogs finished top-10 in Success Rate Allowed, Finishing Drives Allowed and EPA/Play Allowed.
They return seven starters and four of their top five tacklers from last season, so they'll once again be among the nation's best.
Ball State vs Georgia
Betting Pick & Prediction
Ball State's final score against Kentucky was a tad misleading, and the Cardinals really should have covered. But Kentucky simply took advantage of its scoring opportunities while Ball State didn't.
The Cardinals had six drives end inside Kentucky's 40-yard line, but they came away with only seven points.
Image via CFBData.
The Cardinals are at least capable of moving the ball on an SEC defense. They may not be able to do it against Georgia's starters, but once the backups come in, they should have a great shot here to cover.
Plus, Smart hasn't been great at covering as a huge favorite.
I only have Georgia projected as a -37.8 favorite, so I like the value on Ball State at +43.5 and would play it down to +42.