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Boise State vs. Georgia: Breaking Down the Matchup

Georgia ByrdContributor IAugust 28, 2011

Boise State vs. Georgia: Breaking Down the Matchup

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    It’s nail bitin’ time. 

    For fans of the Georgia Bulldogs and Boise State, the days leading up to the Sept. 3 showdown in Hotlanta — right dab in the middle of Bulldog territory — can’t come fast enough.

    Let the nightmares begin.

    For the blue team, a win could put them in the hunt for a national championship and the rights to victory against the Dawgs will help secure and affirm their No. 5 Associated Press ranking. They're returning eight starters on offense and the same number on defense, a Heisman trophy contender and a coach who is riding high.

    For the red and black, it’s all about defending the dominance of the Southeastern Conference, securing the affirmation of a national press that's been downright mean at times and keeping their head coach, a guy most people seem to get along with just fine when he's winning. Breaking into the Top 25 again would also be a perk.  

    Hang on as we tackle the game that promises to be a season breaker for both teams, win or lose.

Boise State vs. Georgia: What's at Stake for Boise?

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    When the Boise State football team plane touches down in Atlanta for the Chick-Fil-A-Kickoff Classic this weekend for what could arguably be their toughest game of the season, what more than a win do they have at stake?

    Everything.

    For two years they’ve tasted an opportunity to play for the BCS National Championship and have fallen within a hair of getting there. A win over the Bulldogs would be strong and essential start to the climb to the top.

    They’ve left the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) where they dominated the league with perfect and near-perfect seasons for the past two years. This year the Broncos are debuting their talents in the Mountain West Conference (MWC) where the competition is said to be stiffer. If they beat the Dawgs in Atlanta on national television they’ll make a national statement. If they fall to defeat, they’ll tumble in the rankings like potatoes on a conveyor belt.

    Boise showed no fear of tough, out-of-conference openers last year when they knocked off Virginia Tech in a squeaker, 33-30. A pumped up team with feisty Coach Chris Peterson defeated every team on the schedule leading up to a painful three-point loss against Nevada in November. It was a game this year’s 14 returning starters (including Heisman Trophy candidate Kellen Moore) would never forget. They blew a 24-7 halftime lead and missed two field goals, finally losing in overtime. Ouch. Their 12-1 record landed them a No. 9 postseason ranking (AP).

    So besides a national championship and a season-opening win, what else has Boise got to prove in this game? A Boise State team has never beaten an SEC team so a win at the Dome would be their first in school history. 

The Boise Challenge: What’s in it for the Georgia Bulldogs?

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    The Georgia Bulldogs are all out for redemption. 

    When Coach Mark Richt signed the dotted line to play this game last November, his team was in a slump and he thought the excitement of a highly touted opener might put a spring back into the step of the Dawgs. But that was before they lost to UCF in the Liberty Bowl in a low-scoring and embarrassing game that ended in a 10-6 loss for the Dawgs.

    The Chick-fil-A Kickoff is their first stop in regaining the confidence of their fans who've been pouting for an entire year after 2010 closed to a 6-7 record.  If they can pull off a win over a highly ranked team like Boise, they'll be on their way to possibly first-place in the Eastern division and a chance to play for an SEC championship — which they won in 2005. It's been four years since they've claimed an Eastern division championship and only then did they tie for first.  

    For Coach Richt, a win at the Georgia Dome will turn last year's sour season into something sweet. A loss could keep him on the "hot seat" and moral will be low heading into Athens for its first home game against the South Carolina Gamecocks the very next week. 

Georgia vs. Boise: Where's the Beef?

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    Talk is cheap so let’s get the scales out.

    Between the hedges or beneath the Dome, it seems the boys from the South are just bigger.

    How big? Check out a couple of standouts on the Georgia O-line.

    For starters, there’s a center named Ben Jones, 6’3" 316 pounds of raw talent. This Centerville, Alabama native is a Remington Award candidate who played in all 13 games last year, started in 12 and was named SEC lineman of the week after the Vanderbilt game.  

    And then there's Cordy Glenn, a Lombardi Award candidate and tackle, 6'5" weighing in at 348 pounds. This year he's a preseason All SEC first-team by an arm's length list of professionals, not to mention that he's on the watch list for Outland and Lombardi awards. A 13-game starter at left guard last year, one wonders why the Dawgs had such a tough year? 

    In simple terms, the average weight of the offensive line for Georgia is 307 pounds. The average weight for the defensive line for Boise is 281. Hence, Georgia has a 26-pound advantage per man on the offensive line. 

    But let’s not stop there, the defensive line for Georgia averages a whopping 317 pounds. The offensive line for Boise averages 288 pounds. Georgia has a nearly 30-pound advantage per man.  

    And none of these Dawgs are primed for thinning out anytime soon.  

Comparing Quarterbacks: Boise State vs. Georgia

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    Georgia Bulldogs' quarterback Aaron Murray and Boise's Kellen Moore have one thing in common: they're both No. 11.  Apart from that, the comparisons offer top grades for each.

    Moore is a senior with stats that are out of this world, poise and experience, and oh by the way, he's also a serious contender for this year's Heisman Trophy award. At 6'1" 191 pounds, he's already completed his studies so this year, so he's focused on one thing: winning football games. His career stats are astounding. He's passed for 10,867 yards, 99 touchdowns and only 19 interceptions.  

    Last year he was only sacked six times.  He scored 35 touchdowns last season and in their opener against Virginia Tech, fans left convinced that this guy does not get the first-game jitters. 

    Bulldogs' Tampa, FL, quarterback Aaron Murray's got the drive and tenacity to win. His achievements were earned the hard way after he showed his toughness, coming back from a broken leg and ankle faster than expected to lead his team to a 2008 state championship. Murray is nearly equal in size to Moore, and passed for 3,049 yards last year for 24 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He was sacked 24 times. A psychology major, he's hoping his studies will give him the mental edge over his competitor.  

Mark Richt vs. Chris Peterson: Who's Got the Edge?

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    Coach Mark Richt is the man Georgia fans love to hate.  

    They love him when he's up but when he's down, they turn up the heat. After last year's losing season, fans are speculating this could be a do or die season for Richt. 

    Richt, who led the Dawgs to their first SEC championship in 2002 , has a sturdy list of accolades for his time spent at Georgia. Eastern division champs in 2003, they lost to LSU in the championship game. Tied for the Eastern division champs in 2007, they ended the season ranked No. 2 in the AP college football poll, their highest ranking in his 11-year tenure.  

    Regarding the non-conference shootout in the Georgia Dome, Richt said, "What better way to send a surge of energy into this program than to schedule a game like that?" 

    Taking on a team with the credentials of Boise is a gamble that Richt knows speaks for itself and more importantly, speaks on behalf of his entire coaching staff.

    "There's a risk in playing a team that can whip your tail because they might whip your tail, but in order for us to get back where we want to be, which is highly ranked and highly thought of, we need to play this game."

    Chris Peterson is 61-5 in five seasons at Boise State. His record speaks for itself but do Boise's opponents stack up to the competition in the SEC? Some say no, however, Peterson is playing it cool.

    In a recent television interview he stated:

    "They've got good players across the board. It doesn't matter if the guy's been there a few years or he's just arrived, that's one of the great things about playing Georgia, everybody has tremendous respect for those players, for that staff, for that program. I mean, the name, Georgia, it gets everybody's attention." 

    For now, actions on the field will have to speak louder than words.

Georgia vs. Boise: The Kicking Game and Advantage

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    Although Boise's Kyle Brotzman will be missed, note that the team's single loss last year to Nevada came down to the kicking game and this year's kicker is a redshirt freshmen who brings long-kick accuracy to the Broncos without actual playing experience. Look for Dan Goodale to perform, but expect surprises.

    "I won't know what it's like but I at least have to try to mentally prepare the best way I can," said Goodale recently.

    Coach Chris Peterson is elusive when discussing his kickers.

    Meanwhile, Georgia's kicking game shines.  

    Blair Walsh, a senior, (5'10," 192 lbs.) from Boca Raton, FL, has been with the Dawgs since 2008. In his career he's made 55 field goals and138 PATs for a total of 303 points. He's an accurate long kicker and his career long at Georgia is 53 yards but since 2009, he's made six of seven at 50-plus.  

    If the game is close, look for Georgia to win at kicking. 

Advantage: Dawgs

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    Based on our research, Georgia seems to have the advantage in every area but coaching. The Bulldogs have got the size, the stamina, the passion and the kickers. We give the coaching advantage to Chris Peterson. Danny Sheridan's line is Boise by three but we give the home crowd those three points.  

    If you haven't got your tickets to the hottest season opener in the South, you'd better hustle. We hear they're going for $500 and up per ticket for upper level end zone. If you're a Georgia fan, based on our research, we're picking the Dawgs to win this one for Richt's sake.  

    Save up and see you at The Dome.

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