GAME NOTES: The 10th-ranked Georgia Bulldogs will continue their four-game
road swing and try for their fifth straight win on Saturday afternoon when
they head to War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock to take on the Arkansas
Razorbacks in an SEC showdown.
Since losing a 38-35 contest at South Carolina on Sept. 13, Georgia has
improved to 5-1 overall and 3-1 in league play thanks to four consecutive
victories. The Bulldogs’ most recent triumph was perhaps their most impressive
yet, as they went on the road and blanked Missouri last Saturday, 34-0, their
first shutout of a nationally-ranked team since 1982.
“For us to have that type of performance is pretty exciting for me, so I am
very thankful for the win, and (I’m) looking forward to playing Arkansas,”
Georgia coach Mark Richt said.
It’s been a tale of two season for Arkansas, as it has defeated all three of
its non-conference foes but has yet to get over the hump in the SEC, going 0-3
in the league to extend its conference losing streak to 15 games. The
Razorbacks battled at home against nationally-ranked Alabama last weekend but
coughed up a fourth-quarter lead en route to a 14-13 loss.
“We’ll take (the Alabama game) as a learning opportunity,” Arkansas coach
Brett Bielema said. “I think we’re getting stronger by the day…the SEC West
is very difficult, and I’m excited to be in it every day.”
This marks the first meeting between the squads since 2010, when Arkansas came
away with a 31-24 win in Athens. Georgia still holds a 9-4 series edge over
Georgia’s offense has been outstanding on the season, putting up 43.2 ppg and
445.7 ypg. The unit suffered a bit last week in the absence of Todd Gurley,
who is suspended indefinitely, but it still managed to rush for 210 yards.
Freshman Nick Chubb shouldered the load in the win with a whopping 38 carries
for 143 yards and a score. He now has 367 yards (on 5.3 ypc) and three scores
“Coming in behind Todd made me a little nervous, but I’ve been playing
football my whole life so I just kept doing what I was doing,” Chubb said.
“Everybody just told me that they believed in me and to play hard.”
Brendan Douglas was also active last week out of the backfield with 13 carries
for 65 yards and a score.
Hutson Mason only throws for 140.5 ypg but he’s been incredibly efficient,
completing 70.5 percent of his passes while accounting for 11 touchdowns and
just three interceptions.
Headlining a modest receiving corps are Michael Bennett (19 receptions, 200
yards, three TDs) and Chris Conley (14 receptions, 208 yards, two TDs).
Georgia’s defense (18.0 ppg, 303.7 ypg) was outstanding a week ago, keeping
the usually-potent Missouri offense in check by allowing just 10 first downs
and 147 yards for its second shutout of the season.
The unit’s strength is at linebacker, where Amarlo Herrera (47 tackles, 6.0
TFL, 3.0 sacks), Ramik Wilson (41 tackles, 5.0 TFL, sack), Jordan Jenkins (30
tackles, 5.5 TFL, 2.5 sacks, 15 QB hurries) and Leonard Floyd (4.0 sacks, 12
QB hurries, two FF) are all in the midst of strong seasons. Damian Swann and
Quincy Mauger have two interceptions apiece.
Arkansas’ offense is not to be overlooked, as it has kept up with Georgia
nearly step for step with 39.3 ppg and 459.5 ypg.
The team’s offensive game plan is centered on its excellent backfield, as it
amasses 278.7 rushing yards per game thanks to perhaps the nation’s best
running back tandem. Alex Collins has turned 92 carries into 634 yards and six
touchdowns, and Jonathan Williams has been equally outstanding with 86 carries
for 569 yards and nine scores.
With such an electric ground game behind him, Brandon Allen hasn’t been asked
to do much under center, as he’s completing just 57.7 percent of his passes
for 166.2 ypg, but he’s accounted for 12 touchdowns and has tossed only two
Keon Hatcher has acted as Allen’s go-to receiver with 16 receptions for 289
yards and two scores.
Arkansas’ defense has been more than good enough to support its explosive
offense, as it allows just 23.8 ppg and 373.8 ypg.
Martrell Spaight has a team-best 53 tackles to go with 2.0 TFL, an
interception and a fumble recovery. Other defensive standouts include Brooks
Ellis (39 tackles, 3.5 TFL), Trey Flowers (34 tackles, 7.0 TFL, 2.0 sacks),
Darius Philon (24 tackles, 7.0 TFL, 2.5 sacks) and Taiwan Johnson (5.0 TFL,
3.5 sacks), although Ellis is questionable with a knee injury.
This will be a battle from start to finish, as Arkansas showed great fight in
one-possession losses to Texas A&M and Alabama, but Georgia’s improving
defense should be able to hold the Razorbacks in check enough to squeak out a
tough road win.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Georgia 31, Arkansas 30