Two double-digit wins teams looking to take another step toward reaching the four-team CFB Playoff will square off in an intriguing Week 1 regular season opener when the Georgia Bulldogs kick off the Kirby Smart era with a huge home date against ACC powerhouse North Carolina.
Now, let’s find out which one of these teams is the right college football picks to bring home the ATS bacon!
A Closer Look At The College Football Bulldogs Vs Tar Heels Winning Favorites
When: Saturday, September 3 at 5:30 PM ET
Where: Georgia Dome, Atlanta Georgia
Live Stream: NBC Sports Live
NCAAF Odds: Georgia -3.5
Bet The North Carolina Tar Heels at +3.5 Because…
The Heels are going to have an elite defense again North Carolina Tar Heels (11-3 SU, 8-6 ATS) has to replace starting quarterback Marquise Williams and that will be no small task, but the Heels do have eight returning starters on offense to help ease the transition to scheduled starter Mitch Trubisky.
North Carolina led the nation in yards per play last season and could do so again as Trubisky hands off early an often to running backs Elijah Hood and T.J. Logan. The Heels also have four returning starters on the offensive line and an experienced group of receivers led by senior wideouts Mack Hollins, Ryan Switzer and Bug Howard.
On defense, the Tar Heels have seven returning starters from a unit that ranked 42nd in the nation in points allowed (24.5 ppg). The defensive line will need time to come together as they break in at least five players that will be getting increased playing time in 2016. Similarly, the linebacker unit will have to replace graduated starters Shakeel Rashad and Jeff Schottmer, but the secondary looks set very solid with three returning starters including gifted cornerbacks M.J. Stewart and Des Lawrence.
Bet The Georgia Bulldogs at -3.5 Because…
They’re playing at home against a comparable opponent they match up well against the Georgia Bulldogs (10-3 SU, 6-7 ATS) are heading in a new direction in 2016 under the stewardship of former Alabama assistant Kirby Smart after longtime head coach Mark Richt bolted to return to alma mater Miami.
On offense, Smart has eight returning starters from last season’s squad, including quarterback in Greyson Lambert. However, after the Bulldogs finished 104th in passing by averaging a modest 185.0 yards per contest through the air, Lambert is apparently in a fight to retain his spot against true freshman Jacob Eason. The Dogs have a competent group of receivers led by Terry Godwin and Isaiah McKenzie and have a bunch of talent at the tight end position.
Whoever starts under center will find life a lot easier if gifted running back Nick Chubb returns to form after recovering from a serious knee injury he suffered against Tennessee early last season. Chubb rushed for over 1,800 yards as a freshman two years ago and his return to health could make the Dogs a dangerous bunch on offense. Georgia lost both starting tackles on the offensive line and starting wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell, so Smart and new offensive coordinator Jim Chaney, clearly have some questions to answer on offense.
Georgia ranked a stupendous seventh in total defense a year ago and led the nation in pass defense by limiting the opposition to just 156.4 passing yards per contest. The Dogs will be excellent again in the defensive backfield in 2016, but they have an inexperienced front seven that will need to grow up in a hurry. The good news is that there’s plenty of talent, starting with defensive tackle Trent Thompson, a player that many considered the nation’s best overall recruit last year.
Expert Pick & Final Score Prediction
I like North Carolina a lot heading into 2016, but I’m going with Georgia to get the big win in Kirby Smart’s debut as Carolina breaks in a new starting signal-caller.
North Carolina closed out the 2015 regular season by going 1-3 ATS over its final four games and 1-2 ATS as an underdog last season. I know Georgia’s 6-7 ATS mark a year ago isn’t very impressive, but the Bulldogs did go 6-6 ATS as a favorite and I belie Kirby Smart will be a hug upgrade over former head coach Mark Richt. Georgia wins and narrowly covers.