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The Georgia Bulldogs will begin a two-game, non-conference stretch prior to the SEC Championship when they host the Massachusetts Minutemen at Sanford Stadium on Saturday. Georgia, the SEC East winner, faces in-state rival Georgia Tech later this month and will then have a rematch of last season’s National Champion against Alabama on its hands. Massachusetts saw a two-game winning streak come to an end with a recent loss to BYU.
Can score in a Minute
Wide receiver Andy Isabella set the Massachusetts single-game record with 303 receiving yards during a 62-59 triple-overtime defeat of Liberty on Nov. 3. Isabella made nine receptions, including two that went for touchdowns. It marked the first 300-yard receiving game since the 2016 season across all of the FBS. Isabella had touchdown receptions of 61 and 89 yards, and added additional “explosive” plays of 21, 48, and 58 yards. The 5’10”. 190-pounder out of Mayfield, Ohio currently ranks first in FBS for total receiving yards this season (1,479), second in yards per game (134.5), second in receptions per game (7.9), and tied for fourth in touchdown catches (11). Massachusetts has had 12 scoring drives lasting 60 seconds or less through 11 games of this 2018 campaign. That puts the Minutemen tied for eighth in the nation alongside Central Florida in that department.
Hard work pays off.
— UMass Football (@UMassFootball) November 12, 2018
Even though Massachusetts obviously isn’t a SEC opponent, Georgia insists it will prepare the same way it does every week.
“We approach every week the same, so there is nothing different about preparing for this game,” senior linebacker Juwan Taylor explained. “Every week is the same for us, we prepare the same way for every opponent, no matter who we play.”
More balanced attack?
A year ago, Georgia was a run-heavy team–and that is putting it mildly. With an offense led by senior running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel plus a quarterback who was just a freshman, it only made sense. The Bulldogs, who ran it on first down just about every time in 2017, kept it on the ground 74 percent of the time last season–passing it on a mere 26 percent of downs. They are at least somewhat closer to the median this time around, with 411 running plays and and 246 passes (a 63 percent to 37 percent ratio).
That is not to say the Bulldogs have been less efficient at running the football. Despite the departures to the NFL by Chubb and Michel, Georgia is still back in business on the ground thanks mostly to D’Andre Swift and Elijah Holyfield. Swift and Holyfield were especially on fire during last week’s 27-10 win over Auburn, with the former going for 186 yards and one touchdown on 17 carries and the latter racking up 93 yards on 15 attempts. Swift also had four receptions for 43 yards.
For the season, Swift has 808 yards and eight touchdowns on 116 carries–good for an outstanding average of 7.0 per clip. He has led the team on the ground in four consecutive contests after failing to do so in any of the first six games (he was slowed a little by injury in the early stages). Holyfield, meanwhile, has turned 1118 carries into 767 yards and five scores.
The Georgia Bulldogs are:
- 1-4 ATS in their last five games against teams with losing records
- 20-6-1 Under in their last 27 home games
- 6-1 Under in their last seven non-conference games
The Massachusetts Minutemen are:
- 7-0 ATS in their last seven games against the SEC
- 5-2 ATS in their last seven games on grass
- 5-2 Under in their last seven games on grass
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Georgia’s bread and butter on offense is the running game and quick hits by Fromm. That is all well and good, but it is not recipe for completely blowing opponents out of the water. After all, the clock generally keeps moving when the Bulldogs take the field. As for the Minutemen, they should be able to score a few points once Georgia’s defense calls off the dogs late. A bloated 44 points should be enough for the visitors to cover.
Prediction: Massachusetts Minutemen
Full-Game Total Pick
The under is 5-2 in the Minutemen’s last seven on grass. It is also 20-6-1 in the Bulldogs’ last 27 at home, 4-1 in their last five at home against opponents with losing road records, and 6-1 in their last seven non-conference contests. Look for this one to stay under the total.