The Georgia Bulldogs have a bit of a cupcake this Saturday in lieu of their upcoming game with the #6 LSU Tigers, as the North Texas Mean Green of Conference USA are set to head east to Sanford Stadium to face the ninth ranked team in the nation at 12:21 p.m. on Saturday, September 20th.
The Mean Green have played very well in head coach Dan McCarney’s third year on the job, as the team sits at 2-1 and are coming off an impressive come-from-behind 34-27 victory over the Ball State Cardinals. Looking to make their first bowl game since the 2004 New Orleans Bowl, North Texas has a great shot at staying competitive in C-USA play in their first season in the conference, but things will not be as easy this weekend when they face the best team on their entire schedule.
Offensively, the gameplan for Georgia should be quite simple: push the Mean Green defense around by pounding the d-linemen with the running attack led by sophomore Todd Gurley in order to open up many big-play opportunities for senior quarterback Aaron Murray. Although North Texas has been impressive through three games, the defense has looked shaky against less-than-stellar opponents, which explains their rankings of 74th in the nation in rushing yards allowed per game with 168 and 94th in passing with 267 yards per game. The Mean Green defense has given up an average of twenty points per game through these first three contests to two MAC schools and an FBS Independent (Idaho) who frankly was not considered good enough to be a worthy acquisition by another conference, which means Saturday’s contest against the Bulldogs may prove to be quite ugly.
From the other side of the football, Georgia’s focus needs to be hitting North Texas quarterback Derek Thompson and hitting him often. Although the Mean Green have been fairly balanced so far this season (873 passing yards vs 522 rushing yards), it is apparent that their only chance in contending or even beating Georgia—I wouldn’t discount anything after the effort Akron gave against Michigan—is if Thompson has the game of his life. Thompson has done a solid job in leading the Mean Green so far this season, throwing for 818 yards with 5 touchdowns and 2 interceptions, but he has yet to play a high-caliber defense like Georgia in 2013. Thompson may very well make some big plays against an inexperienced Georgia secondary, but if the Dawgs’ defensive line and linebackers effectively pressure the senior from Glen Rose, Texas, it may very well be a long day for the team and fans clad in green in Athens.
Prediction: The Bulldogs have tended to start slow against opponents like North Texas (see: Florida Atlantic last season), but in no time Georgia is in control of this matchup mismatch. The Dawgs’ defense comes up big in this game, sacking Thompson three times, picking him off once for a huge pick six, and recovering a fumble by a fellow Mean Green player. Georgia rolls and prepares to welcome the Bayou Bengals to Sanford Stadium with a ticket to Atlanta potentially on the line for both sides. Final Score North Texas Mean Green 17, Georgia Bulldogs 51
Aaron Murray – 17 completions for 235 yards and 3 TDs
Todd Gurley – 21 carries for 108 yards and 1 TD
Keith Marshall – 14 carries for 82 yards and 1 TD
Justin Scott-Wesley – 6 receptions for 77 yards and 1 TD
Are the Bulldogs in danger of pulling a Michigan against North Texas? Leave a comment regarding your concerns and let your opinion be heard