Belk Bowl Preview: Georgia Bulldogs vs. Louisville Cardinals


It seems like an eternity has passed since the Georgia Bulldogs took the field in a football game, but that comes to an end on Tuesday evening in Charlotte. Mark Richt and his club are in North Carolina to participate in the Belk Bowl, and on the other sideline will be an old friend in Todd Grantham, who captains the defense of the Louisville Cardinals. Let’s take a look at what to expect on the field when these two teams get together on December 30.

Opponent: Louisville Cardinals

Time/TV: December 30, 6:30 pm ET, ESPN

Georgia Offense vs. Louisville Defense

There are two monster story lines on this side of the ball, with the aforementioned presence of Todd Grantham and the recent departure of Mike Bobo from Athens. The first of those focuses will be on the Louisville defense, where Grantham has had big-time success in year one.

Louisville finished the season as the sixth-ranked defense in the country from a yardage perspective, allowing less than 300 yards of total offense per game. On top of that, the Cardinals have been stingy against the run, finishing third nationally, and that sets the stage for a showdown between that group and freshman sensation Nick Chubb. Chubb has admirably filled the shoes of All-American Todd Gurley, who will be in Charlotte but not participating in the game, and the bruising freshman has firmly cemented his presence as one of the best backs in the country. The winner of that ground battle could have the upper hand in the overall contest.

Georgia will be utilizing a new play-caller for this game, with tight ends coach John Lilly getting the nod in Bobo’s absence. It is a safe bet to assume that Mark Richt will have considerable input here, but with Hutson Mason under center, the Bulldogs have a veteran presence to lean on from an on-field standpoint. Still, the fact that Bobo is gone is nothing to sneeze at here, and it will be interesting to see how the UGA coaching staff prepares and adjusts to things as the game progresses.

Georgia Defense vs. Louisville Offense

While Georgia has a coaching vacancy to address, Louisville will also be without a key piece of its offensive arsenal. Running back Michael Dyer (a former Auburn Tiger) has been ruled ineligible for the game, leaving Bobby Petrino and the Cardinals short-handed. Fortunately for Petrino and his group, this isn’t a traditionally explosive offense, and that makes for an interesting match-up.

Louisville has struggled through the air this season, no matter who is playing quarterback, and the UGA pass rush should be able to tee off, even without the presence of Leonard Floyd on the edge. Jeremy Pruitt will almost assuredly empty his bag of tricks here in an attempt to confuse the young skill players for Louisville, but if there is one player to gameplan for, it is wide receiver Devante Parker.


The Georgia Bulldogs enter as a modest favorite in this game, but in most bowl games, the winner is the team that simply shows up ready to play. There have been a great deal of distractions in Athens in recent days, no matter how small, and it is on Mark Richt to get his team prepared and focused for a quality opponent. Louisville is more than capable of winning this game, and that surely scares a portion of the UGA fan base. Still, the better team from a roster perspective resides in Athens, and with all things equal, that should lead to victory.

Stay tuned for post-game coverage, and a live game thread that will open on Saturday morning. Check it out!