Game to be played at Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, North Carolina
The 13th annual Belk Bowl will play host to two top 20 teams for the first time in its history when No. 13 Georgia and No. 20 Louisville meet for the first time. The Bulldogs, who are the first SEC team to be invited to Charlotte, N.C., enter the 50th bowl game in their proud history after winning eight of their final 10 contests. The Cardinals also finished the regular season strong by going 7-2 down the stretch, with the only losses coming to No. 2 Florida State and No. 18 Clemson.
In a season marked with a number of highs (routs of SEC East champion Missouri and Auburn) and lows (losses to six-win teams in South Carolina and Florida), Georgia running back Nick Chubb was one of the few constants. After losing Heisman Trophy hopeful Todd Gurley to a season-ending knee injury on Oct. 11, the SEC Freshman of the Year closed the year out by running for at least 100 yards and a touchdown in each of his seven starts. With another 100-yard performance against Louisville, Chubb can tie Bulldog legend Herschel Walker for the most such efforts by a Georgia freshman.
The Cardinals’ sixth-ranked total defense could enjoy a significant advantage considering defensive coordinator Todd Grantham served in the same role for the Bulldogs under Georgia coach Mark Richt from 2010-13. Louisville also boasts the third-best rushing defense in the country (93.7 yards) and has yielded only nine scores on the ground. The Cardinals are slightly less accomplished against the pass (31st, 199.6), but finished the regular season tied for first in FBS with 25 interceptions.
TV: 6:30 p.m. ET, ESPN.
LINE HISTORY: Georgia opened as 6.5-point favorites and were bet to -7, before coming back down to the opening number. The total has held steady at 56.5
INJURY REPORT: Georgia – RB A.J. Turman (questionable Tuesday, toe), RB Keith Marshall (questionable Tuesday, ankle), WR Isaiah McKenzie (out Tuesday, suspension), LB Leonard Floyd (out, Tuesday). Louisville – QB Reggie Bonnafon (probable Tuesday, knee), RB Michael Dyer (out Tuesday, academics).
WEATHER REPORT: It will be partly cloudy with temperatures in the low 40’s for the game. There will be a 10 percent chance of rain with a five mile per hour wind blowing across the field from north to south.
ABOUT GEORGIA (9-3, 7-5 ATS, 9-3 O/U): Thanks in large part to Chubb (12) and Gurley (nine), Georgia ran for a conference-leading 35 rushing touchdowns – a total that trails only the 1971 Bulldog team that finished with 39. Hutson Mason, who was one of three Georgia quarterbacks to combine for a completion percentage of 68.1, saw his six-game streak without throwing an interception snapped on his final attempt in the Nov. 29 overtime loss to Georgia Tech. The Bulldogs finished the regular season with a plus-15 turnover differential – tied for fourth in FBS – and scored 104 points off their 26 takeaways.
ABOUT LOUISVILLE (9-3, 7-5 ATS, 5-6-1 O/U): Sophomore All-American safety Gerod Holliman emerged as the country’s best ball hawk in 2014 with 14 interceptions, matching the NCAA single-season record held by Al Worley of Washington in 1968 and becoming only the 11th player in NCAA history to record 12 or more in a season. The Cardinals’ offense also finished the season on a roll, scoring 30 or more points in five straight games. That streak coincided with the return of receiver DeVante Parker, who posted team-high totals of 35 catches, 735 yards and five touchdowns despite missing seven contests with a left toe injury.
* Georgia is 4-1 ATS in their last five games following an ATS loss.
* Louisville is 4-1 ATS in their last five Bowl games.
* Over is 12-3 in Georgia’s last 15 games following a SU loss.
* Over is 4-0-1 in Louisville’s last five games overall.
COVERS CONSENSUS: The majority of bettors are backing Georgia, with 63 percent of wagers on the Bulldogs -6.5.