We have an early kickoff tomorrow, so time is short. I have already given you the lowdown on the passing game and the running game, so that just leaves the fine print, with respect to which I will attempt to provide you not with a smidgen of stats, nor with a dash of data, but instead with . . . Too Much Information.
Odds and Ends
- The Trojans, who rank first in the Sun Belt in total offense with 448.2 yards per game and 30 total touchdowns, are balanced over the course of a contest: Troy has scored 137 first-half points and 139 second-half points.
- Georgia has scored more points in each quarter than in the one before. Over the course of the season, the Bulldogs have tallied 45 points in the first period, 58 in the second stanza, 59 in the third quarter, and 71 in the final 15 minutes.
- An area of interest to watch will be the Trojans' return game. Troy leads the Sun Belt in punt returns, averaging 19.1 yards per return. Troy has scored a trio of T.D.s on punt runbacks. The Red and Black, however, net 38.1 yards per punt, making them the S.E.C.'s second-best punting team. That aspect of the special teams battle could matter a great deal, although, with any luck, Georgia won't have to punt the ball terribly often.
- The 'Dawgs have tallied the fewest takeaways (8) in the Southeastern Conference, but the Classic City Canines also have surrendered the fewest giveaways (6) in the league.
- The difference in quality between the S.E.C. and the Sun Belt is attested to by the fact that, while Troy ranks first in its league in scoring defense and Georgia ranks seventh in its conference in that selfsame category, the Trojans actually allow more points per game (23.6) than the Bulldogs (21.0). Most telling, though, is the fact that Troy surrenders 12.3 points per game at home but 30.4 points per game on the road.
- Georgia stands atop the S.E.C. in red zone offense. Although that distinction is somewhat dubious, since the Bulldogs have made the second-fewest trips inside the 20 yard line of any team in the conference (28), the Red and Black have made the most of their opportunities, as 27 of those deep drives have produced points and 21 of those have yielded touchdowns.
- In the shadow of their own goalposts, both defenses are more susceptible to the run than to the pass. Georgia has given up twelve rushing touchdowns in the red zone, as has Troy, but the Trojans have surrendered just seven touchdowns through the air inside the 20 and the Bulldogs have allowed only two.
Since moving up to Division I-A status in 2001, Troy has posted a 3-21 record against B.C.S. conference opponents. Two of the Trojans' three wins---over Missouri in 2004 and over Oklahoma State earlier this autumn---have come at home. Troy's only road win over a team from a B.C.S. league came in 2001 against a Mississippi State team that finished the year with a 3-8 ledger.
The Trojans have lost seven straight games against S.E.C. teams and Troy has never beaten two B.C.S. conference squads in the same year. The Trojans already have beaten one B.C.S. conference squad in 2007.
The Bottom Line
Obviously, I am anticipating a Georgia win. The degree of difficulty involved in attaining that victory will be dependent upon two factors: Omar Haugabook's health and the Bulldogs' intensity.
The former, of course, is beyond any of our control, but, given the Classic City Canines' success at containing the sore-shouldered Tim Tebow last Saturday, I would rather have a hobbled Haugabook take the field in Sanford Stadium than witness the insertion of a wild card into the game in the form of an inexperienced backup quarterback who hasn't shown up on film.
As for the fear that the Red and Black will come out flat, I tend to agree with Dave the Dawg that, in Jacksonville, "this team found out just how much fun it is to play with emotion." In a season rife with upsets, the Bulldogs are not apt to overlook a team that led by a 41-10 margin after three quarters against an Oklahoma State team that played a much tighter game against Georgia.
The Classic City Canines know that the Plainsmen will be spending their Saturday afternoon tuning up against Tennessee Tech. The Red and Black can and should be similarly engaged this weekend. While we cannot realistically expect to see the same level of intensity we witnessed in the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party, I expect Georgia to bring enough energy, preparation, and focus to the table to win a hard-fought battle between the hedges.
My Prediction: Georgia 38, Troy 24.