Georgia Arizona State Preview: Can Dawgs Solve Defensive, Turnover Woes?

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Georgia Arizona State Preview: Can Dawgs Solve Defensive, Turnover Woes?
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Arizona State travels to Athens, Ga. for the return game with Georgia in a 7 p.m. tilt Between the Hedges. The Sun Devils are off to a 2-0 start this season under less expectations than years past. The Bulldogs are 2-1 after two shootout SEC wins over South Carolina and Arkansas. Vegas has set the line at 12 in favor of the Dawgs.

Last Meeting - 2008, Georgia 27 Arizona St 10 Tempe, AZ

Georgia held ASU to four yards rushing while carrying the ball for 176 yards of their own in a 17-point win. Matthew Stafford threw for 285 yards in the win. Arizona State was just 2 for 11 on third downs and QB Rudy Carpenter was sacked four times and hurried numerous others.

Keys To The Game:

1. Turnovers

UGA is -7 in three games this year, losing the turnover battle each game. Sooner or later the math will catch up with them especially with their schedule. ASU has not turned the ball over once this year while forcing eight from their opponents. Another three-turnover game could spring the Bulldogs for an upset.

2. Pass Protection

The Sun Devils' offensive line made Georgia's defense look like world beaters, allowing four sacks and numerous hurries last year. So far in 2009, ASU is not faring a whole lot better, giving up 2.5 sacks per game against weak competition.

But Georgia has not fared as well this season rushing the passer, getting 1.3 sacks per game. This could be a great opportunity for Bulldog pass rushers to gain some confidence. Same goes for the Sun Devils against a mediocre pass rush.

3. Offensive Balance

While both teams are good at throwing it, one (at least) is not very good at stopping it. Arizona State is averaging 12 yards per completion, but UGA is hitting an astonishing 14.8. So far, Georgia's secondary is struggling, allowing opponents 13.6 yards per completion. We don't truly know how good ASU's pass defense is with their first two opponents being Idaho State and UL-Monroe.

More importantly, Arizona State is rushing for 153 yards per game this year. They have to do much better than last year against UGA so they are not one dimensional on offense. UGA has had great success passing the ball, but I don't think Dennis Erickson's club is going to give up as many deep balls as Arkansas did. UGA OC Mike Bobo will have to mix in the run and be successful at it. UL-Monroe averaged 4.1 ypc last week.

Prediction

Arizona State was truly over matched and over rated last year in their game with Georgia. This year they have much lower expectations and seem to be responding well. And we know Erickson can coach from his days at Miami.

The Sun Devils gain a break with the game time after traveling cross country. But their poor o-line play again this year really concerns me on the road. They will have to continue to create turnovers and hold onto the ball themselves while executing better than Georgia to pull off the upset.

Georgia 35 Arizona State 21
Georgia Covers +12

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