CHARLOTTE, N.C. — First time I’ve ever typed this: Greetings from Bank of America Stadium.
Seems like I’ve already been just about everywhere Georgia has played the last few years. I’ve covered all the Florida bowls and been to every SEC stadium except for Texas A&M’s Kyle Field (I’m just hoping I live long enough to get to that one).
But now I’m covering the Belk Bowl, and that’s a first for both me and the Bulldogs. And like them, I can honestly say I didn’t expect to be here.
Like it or not, here is where Georgia is, and the Bulldogs would be well advised to give Louisville their full and total attention and effort. UGA is a touchdown favorite in the game and I, too, believe the Dogs to be the better team, albeit ever so slightly.
As always, bowl games are very difficult to predict. A lot of it has to do with motivation and mindset, and that’s difficult to gauge with the Bulldogs. They’re a team that has pretty much been under assault since the season-ending loss to Georgia Tech. And then they lost offensive coordinator Mike Bobo and line coach Will Friend to Colorado State.
But talking to the players in Charlotte this week, they insist resiliency is their specialty. They point to that another rather significant loss mid-season that they were able to get through in fairly good order.
In the meantime, Louisville definitely gets the edge when it comes to positive dynamics. The Cardinals and their fans are excited to be in Charlotte and to be playing Georgia in the Belk Bowl. They’re excited about nine wins in the first season under Bobby Petrino and defensive coordinator Todd Grantham.
In their own words, they get fired up for their bowl games. They’ve won the last two over pretty good opponents, 36-9 over Miami in the Russell Athletic Bowl last year and 33-23 over Florida in the Sugar Bowl in 2013. They lost the last time they were in the Belk Bowl, 31-24 to N.C. State in 2011.
Regardless of the outcome, it shapes up to be a great matchup. Georgia with Nick Chubb and its powerful run game against Louisville’s No. 3-ranked rush defense; the Bulldogs radically improved pass defense against dynamic receiver DeVante Parker. Both teams create a lot of turnovers and play well in special teams.
So it ought to be a good one. I’m rambling so you guys take it from here.