WHO: No. 13 Georgia (9-3) vs. No. 21 Louisville (9-3)
WHAT: The 13th Belk Bowl
WHERE: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, N.C.
WHEN: 6:30 p.m. ET Dec. 30 on ESPN
THE SKINNY: Hey, it’s another bowl game pitting a defensive coordinator against his former team! After four seasons running Georgia’s defense to varying degrees of success, Todd Grantham left Athens for Louisville and a large payday to work for Bobby Petrino. Few teams were tougher to move the ball against than Grantham’s Cardinals, who ranked eighth nationally in pass efficiency defense by holding opponents to 53.6 percent completions for 6.2 yards per attempt while intercepting a nation’s best 25 passes against only 13 touchdown passes while also placing third in rushing defense (93.67 yards per game allowed) and allowed just 2.94 yards per carry (fourth nationally). Compare that to a Georgia defense that ranks 11th in pass efficiency defense but 77th in rushing defense under first-year coordinator Jeremy Pruitt.
However, Georgia doesn’t have to defend Nick Chubb, Louisville does. Despite never carrying the ball more than 11 times until Oct. 11, Chubb ripped off a 1,200-yard season by rushing for 143, 202, 156, 170, 144, 113 and 129 yards over the back half of the season. Combine that with the efficient Hutson Mason at quarterback (20 touchdowns, four interceptions) and you have to like Georgia’s chances in the even this game becomes a shootout.
Louisville won its final three games of the regular season with three different players leading the club in passing, and either Kyle Bolin or Reggie Bonnafon could start. Whoever it is should throw lots and lots of balls to DeVante Parker.
Finally, Georgia will be without offensive coordinator Mike Bobo and offensive line coach Will Friend, who are both off to new jobs at Colorado State. This leaves tight ends coach John Lilly as the Bulldogs’ play-caller. In a game of evenly-matched teams, taking the squad with Bobby Petrino running its offense opposite a tight ends coach.
THE PICK: Louisville 31, Georgia 27