Only an early touchdown favorite in Boulder?
I recently received Phil Steele/Northcoast Sports' latest edition of the Power Sweep newsletter in the mail. Not that I wasn't ready for football season to start but when I see that lines have already been set for most of Georgia's 12 upcoming games, the 2010 season cannot kickoff fast enough.
Nearly two months ago, I posted the Golden Nugget Casino's "Games of the Year," five of which featured Georgia. Power Sweep lists the Las Vegas Hilton's "Marquee College Game Matchups," which include the Nugget's five Bulldog games plus two more.
Some thoughts on Georgia's early, seven-lined games for 2010:
SOUTH CAROLINA -1'
Georgia being a slight favorite in Columbia confirms what I forecasted in February when looking over the 2010 schedule: If the Bulldogs were to play any of their opponents today, they would be favored in all but two (Florida, Auburn) games. However, I knew the South Carolina line would be extremely close to even.
Regardless of the point spread, this game's total is something to consider. Prior to last season, for 11 consecutive years, Georgia and South Carolina combined to score 38 points or less. With a freshman signal caller playing on the road, yet another defensive struggle is a very good possibility.
A friend and I were just discussing how we could see this year's Arkansas being last season's Ole Miss: highly-touted with seemingly lots of promise, while possessing a Heisman-candidate quarterback but, in the end, they wind up with the exact same record as the year before. The Razorbacks had eight victories a year ago and I feel they'll probably win around the same in 2010.
As I blogged back in June, this team has been dreadful at opponents' home stadiums the last two years. In 2009, quarterback Ryan Mallett was especially awful in away games. When they face Georgia, the Razorbacks will be riding a seven-game losing streak in away games. They should leave Athens having dropped eight in a row, losing to the Bulldogs by at least 10.
After taking nearly a week off and dropping some serious coin to go watch Georgia in Boulder, the Bulldogs better not make me distressed over a touchdown or less game, especially to a team that has won just five of its last 21. I expect this line to be in the double digits by kickoff.
Whoa, that's a lot of points! Even more puzzling is that the Nugget had Georgia as just a 7-point favorite. The last two times the Bulldogs were a 12 to 13-point favorite over the Volunteers, Georgia was upset at home in 2004 and four years later, a bad Tennessee team with Nick Stephens at quarterback gave us a scare. When facing the Vols, more than 10 points is too much for the Dogs to give, no matter the caliber of the two squads.
As I mentioned in my previous post, for several reasons, as long as this spread is at 7 or less, I wouldn't touch it if I was a Dawg fan. Now, if Georgia was a 7.5-point underdog or more...
If I was to point to the game on the schedule I'm scared of the most, it's this one. Playing on the Plains with a four-game winning streak in the series won't be easy. Perhaps unfortunately for the Bulldogs, the SEC East title may be on the line with this game's result.
GEORGIA TECH -4
No way we lose to the Techies twice in a row Between the Hedges. Of course, I said the same thing back in 2000. Richt should improve to 9-1 against the Jackets; whether the victory will be by more than four points is anyone's guess.
Other Georgia-related odds listed in the current Power Sweep: The Bulldogs are 13:2 to win the SEC (fourth-highest in conference) and 40:1 to win the BCS Championship Game (tied for 16th-highest in nation, including a 15:1 "Field"). Speaking of the national championship...
Besides putting out the very best college football preview magazine, Steele is also known for being a rather proficient pigskin prognosticator. He favors nine OVER win totals (the top two being Auburn and Miami (FL) OVER 8.5 wins) and seven odds on teams to win the national title (Oklahoma at 7:1 being his favorite). Steele's college football future bets returned 73% on the initial investment a year ago.
Georgia is one of Steele's recommended national championship future bets for this season, indicating if he had $10K to spend, $100 would be placed on the Bulldogs (at 40:1) to win the BCS title.
If Georgia is fortunate enough to reach the championship game, I, like many Bulldog followers, would gladly take time off work, plunk down some serious cash, and head out West like we had three months earlier for Boulder. For a trip to Glendale, AZ, however, I wouldn't mind sweating out a Georgia victory of a touchdown or less.