The opening weekend of the 2016 college football season is less than 100 days away and it’s arguably the best first weekend of matchups in many, many years. And one of those terrific non-conference showdowns features Georgia of the SEC and North Carolina of the ACC. Both surely will be ranked in the Top 25 when the polls are released and play Sept. 3 in Atlanta in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game. The kickoff is at 5:30 p.m. ET and will be televised by ESPN. The Dawgs are 3.5-point favorites in the College football lines. There is no total released yet.
Georgia vs. North Carolina 2016 NCAA Football Betting Analysis
Georgia last played in Atlanta’s annual college football kickoff event in 2011, when it lost to Boise State 34-21. Originally, officials of the Kickoff Game at the Georgia Dome were trying to broker a game between the Bulldogs and Florida State. But the Seminoles agreed to play Ole Miss in the Citrus Bowl’s new kickoff game in Orlando, which will be played on Monday, Sept. 5. The Tar Heels last opened their season in Atlanta against LSU in 2010.
This matchup will rekindle what was once one of the South’s great old rivalries. Georgia and North Carolina have played each other 30 times but not once since the 1971 Gator Bowl, which the Bulldogs won 7-3. UGA leads the overall series 16-12-2. The teams will battle for The Old Leather Helmet Trophy, one of college football’s newest rivalry-style icons. Traditionally, winners of The Old Leather Helmet don the helmet on the field after the game, starting with the head coach and then rotating from player to player as the team celebrates its victory.
This will be head Georgia head coaching debut of former Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart. He was hired to replace Mark Richt, who was surprisingly let go after last season despite having so much success at the school; Richt is now Miami’s coach. Smart was Nick Saban’s defensive coordinator at Alabama since 2008. Since then, Smart’s defenses ranked first in the FBS in points per game, yards per game, yards per play and Total QBR.
Smart was a defensive back for four years at Georgia, earning first-team All-SEC honors as a senior and finishing with 14 career interceptions. Smart was teammates with former Georgia offensive coordinator and current Colorado State coach Mike Bobo, as well as former Florida coach and current Auburn defensive coordinator Will Muschamp.
The new coach must decide on a starting quarterback between returnees Greyson Lambert and Brice Ramsey and five-star freshman Jacob Eason, who is the fans’ choice. Lambert, who went 10-2 as a starter a year ago (Faton Bauta started Georgia’s other loss against Florida), would still seemingly be the front-runner of the competition at this time. Eason looked really good in the spring game, however. Of the three quarterbacks, Eason is the most physically gifted.
North Carolina was the Coastal Division champion in the ACC last season and gave conference champ Clemson, which lost to Alabama in the national title game, all it could handle in the ACC title game. They Heels rewarded with a bid to the Russell Athletic Bowl where they lost to Baylor. The Heels will have a new QB with record-setting Marquise Williams gone. Mitch Trubisky takes over. The junior-to-be shined during his limited opportunities in 2015, completing a stunning 85 percent of his passes for six touchdowns against no interceptions.
My Expert Betting Prediction
The fans will be heavily Georgia in Atlanta. North Carolina lost quite a bit off last year’s team, led by Williams. Take the Dawgs on NCAA football lines.