College Football Odds, Prediction, Pick for UAB vs. Georgia: Bet Blazers Over Bulldogs in Week 2
Tony Walsh/Collegiate Images/Getty Images. Pictured: Nakobe Dean #17 of the Georgia Bulldogs.
UAB vs. Georgia Odds
-105o / -115u
-105o / -115u
(Note: Georgia is dealing with unnamed COVID-19 cases, pick subject to change)
The UAB Blazers head to Athens to battle with the No. 2 Georgia Bulldogs. This will be third all-time meeting in the series with Georgia winning the first two, 16-13 in 2003 and 34-0 in 2006. If you like defense, this game may be the game for you as both UAB and Georgia pride themselves on their defenses.
If you spent your Labor Day weekend watching all of the games, you will be hard pressed to find many defensive performances more impressive than what UAB and Georgia put on display against Jacksonville State and Clemson, respectively.
UAB shut out Jacksonville State 31-0, limiting the Gamecocks to 3.12 yards per play in the process. Its secondary was suffocating in man coverage, and Jacksonville State QB Zerrick Cooper only completed two passes over 15 yards.
Georgia’s degree of difficulty was a bit higher in taking on Clemson in a top-five showdown, a 10-3 victory. Clemson had no answer for Georgia’s defensive line as the Bulldogs recorded eight tackles for loss and seven sacks. Georgia’s defense also recorded the game’s only touchdown, a 74-yard interception return by defensive back Christoper Smith.
While both programs are strong on defense, perhaps the low total is a sign to go in the opposite direction.
UAB head coach Bill Clark has done a remarkable job in Birmingahm, including navigating the program being shut down to the university’s budget cuts. After being reinstated in 2017, Clark took the Blazers to bowl game for the first time since 2004. The Blazers have only been to four bowl games in program history and three of them have come since Clark took over.
Overall, Clark has compiled a 41-22 record, and the Blazers eyes on repeating as Conference USA champs again this season. The Blazers will not be intimidated traveling “Between the Hedges” after trips to Tennessee, Texas A&M, and Miami in recent years.
Offensively, UAB has been built around running the football in recent years. However, standout running back Spencer Brown moved on to the NFL, and the Blazers only managed one run over 12 yards against Jacksonville State and had a stuff rate of 33.3%. Quarterback Tyler Johnston picked up the slack by going 17 of 21 for 320 yards and two touchdowns.
The Blazers had a 75% success rate on passing plays and a 63.6% success rate on passing downs, both of which are excellent. The Blazers were also able to create some explosive plays in the passing game against Jacksonville State. Nine of their 24 passing plays went over 15 yards, including eight that went over 20 yards. UAB may have to relay on its passing attack again this week.
UAB has been in the process of molding its defense from a 3-4 to a 4-2-5. On the edge, the Blazers are replacing fourth round pick Jordan Smith with Alex Wright and Kellie Sanders. Tyree Turner, Mi’Cario Stanley and LSU transfer Justin Thomas make up the Blazers rotation on the interior.
Though the Blazers defense was dominant against the Gamecocks, it did not create much havoc. The Blazers had zero sacks, recorded three tackles for loss, and didn’t force a turnover. That is not a good sign going against Georgia.
The strength of UAB’s defense is its secondary. The Blazers did not allow a 200-yard passer last season and held Zerrick Cooper to 88 yards in the opener. TD Marshall could be an all-conference selection at corner. The Blazers have a deep safety rotation led by Dy’Jonn Miller, who had six tackles and a pass breakup last week.
Georgia has already proven it can beat another elite team with the road win over No. 3 Clemson. Now the Bulldogs are facing a different form of adversity as Head coach Kirby Smart said his team is dealing with its highest spike in COVID-19 cases.
Though no one was named, Smart also stated that the team has three or four players out with COVID, and they will be sidelined for a while. That will be something to monitor as we move closer as kickoff approaches.
For a team that did not score an offensive touchdown last week, Georgia did not perform that poorly on offense. The Bulldogs had an above average offensive success rate of 52.5% rate and 66.7% success rate on running plays, which is well above the national average.
Running back Zamir White averaged 5.7 YPC, but Georgia was slightly below average on passing plays with a success rate of 38.7%. However, Georgia’s success rate on passing downs was 47.4%, well above the national average.
Quarterback J.T. Daniels completed 73% of his passes against Clemson, but he may have to wait another week to get some of his offensive weapons back.
Wide receivers Kearis Jackson and Dominic Blayock are both recovering from knee injuries (menscius surgery for Jackson, ACL tear for Blayock). Jackson returned punts last week but he is still working into the mix at wide receiver. Blayock dressed but did not play against Clemson. Tight end Darnell Washington also did not play against Clemson.
Even without a few of its top offensive players, Georgia still is loaded with playmakers. Jermaine Burton is one of the fastest wide receivers in the country, and the Bulldogs now have Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint back healthy and on the other side of him. White leads a deep group of running backs that also includes Kendall Milton and James Cook.
After Week 1, Georgia’s defense moved up to #2 in the defensive SP+ rankings. It looked the part of an elite defense with all the havoc it was able to create. The Bulldogs limited Clemson to an 18.8% success rate on running plays and stuffed 12 of 16 rushes. Clemson’s overall offensive success rate was just 31.7%.
Georgia was breaking in some unexperienced players in the secondary, like true freshman corner Kelee Ringo, but still limited Clemson to a slightly below average 36.4% success rate on passing plays. The Tigers have generally been known for creating explosive plays in the passing game, but the Bulldogs limited them to just three passing plays over 15 yards.
The performance of Georgia’s secondary was impressive without West Virginia transfer Tykee Smith, who Georgia is expecting back and big things out of in its star position.
The secondary was aided by the dominant performance from the front seven led by Jordan Davis, Nakobe Dean, and Nolan Smith. Davis, Dean, and Smith were among six Georgia defenders with sacks, with Dean tallying two.
UAB vs. Georgia Betting Pick
When two teams more known for their defenses get together, the first thought is usually for a low scoring defensive game. However, there are a few reasons why that might not be the case this week. Good defenses force turnovers, which set up short fields and instant scoring opportunities for their offenses. They might even score themselves like Georgia did last week.
Georgia also has a significant talent advantage over UAB despite its injuries and COVID cases. With its deep group of running backs and big offensive line, Georgia should be able to get what it wants in the running game. UAB gave up 337 yards rushing to Miami last season, and Georgia has a better running back group and offensive line than Miami.
Nonetheless, with Daniels questionable to play Saturday due to an oblique injury, I would lean towards UAB covering if you can them in the range of +24.5 to +25.5. Georgia will likely go back to last year’s conservative approach before Daniels was inserted as the starter.
With Carson Beck making his first start, the Bulldogs will rely on their ground attack and get out of dodge with a win. UAB’s defense will able to keep the game within four touchdowns without Daniels.
Pick: UAB +24.5 (-110)
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