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College Football expert Alex Kirshner previews and provides betting picks for Arkansas vs. Georgia's matchup this Saturday.
ANALYSIS

Arkansas vs. Georgia Prediction, Over/Under Pick, and Latest Odds

Spread: Georgia -18.5

Total: 49

Game time: Saturday, 12 p.m. ET

Where to watch: ESPN

Click here to see full betting odds for Arkansas vs. Georgia

Arkansas vs. Georgia Prediction

Arkansas is the toast of college football through four weeks of the 2021 season. The Razorbacks have started 4-0, and that’s included two convincing beatings against the talented rosters of Texas and Texas A&M. They’re up to No. 8 in the AP Poll, and less than two years removed from wrapping up a second-straight winless SEC season under Chad Morris’ staff, it’s clear that Sam Pittman has pulled off the country’s starkest turnaround job.

Exactly how far the Hogs have come will get a good test on Saturday, when they play No. 2 Georgia in Athens and more than likely take their first loss of the year. The Dawgs are certainly no worse than the second-best team and the best defense in the country, and if someone wanted to make a case that they’ll beat Alabama once or twice this season and be the best team in college football, it would be hard to dismiss that out of hand. But it is possible the Hogs will be the best team UGA has played yet, given how far Clemson has fallen since the Dawgs beat the Tigers in Week 1. Both teams will have a lot to demonstrate in Athens.

The spread bets, with Georgia favored by 18.5, don’t speak to me. An 18.5-point spread is a lot to stomach, especially when projection systems like Bill Connelly’s SP+ point toward more like a 15-point margin. But I don’t want to put money on a young Arkansas QB and a recently improved offensive line holding up well against this absolute Death Star of a UGA defense. The Dawgs could be so overwhelming that 18.5 looks like 10 points less than a fair spread.

But I do like the under in this game. That’s partially because UGA’s defense is so elite and partially because, in terms of game style, these teams will try to plod up the field against each other. I don’t expect the flow of the game to lend itself to the over hitting.

The Georgia offense has been great all in all, particularly when JT Daniels (rather than backup Stetson Bennett) has been at quarterback. But the Dawgs aren’t trying to score fast points. Their most targeted receiver has been a true freshman tight end, Brock Bowers, who averages 15 yards per catch. Without the rehabbing George Pickens, there’s no consistent deep threat in the fold, even though a few Dawgs can make explosive plays when tabbed.

On the other side, Arkansas’ top target is Treylon Burks, who mainly gets fed a steady diet of short passes from his slot position and is asked to find yards after the catch. The Hogs have built a good running game behind a much-improved line, but I do not think they’re going to run the ball with any consistency against UGA, because I don’t think anyone could do that outside NFL teams. Arkansas is going to try to dink and dunk its way up the field all afternoon, and while I don’t think it’ll work, I believe the Hogs can get enough first downs to keep the clock moving. They just won’t finish many drives against the Dawgs. Few teams will.

Adding to the under’s case, these are not pace-oriented teams. Arkansas is 64th of 130 FBS teams in plays run per game (68), while UGA is 90th (66). Both are generally content to take their time rather than run tempo, and I think they’ll do that in this game. It’ll be difficult for Arkansas to contribute more than 14 to this total, and as an added point in the under’s favor, UGA has plenty of reasons to rest the recently injured Daniels if the score gets out of hand.

Arkansas won’t win this game, but it can still be a nice growth opportunity for a rapidly rising program. Scoring on UGA won’t be how the Hogs pull that off, but slowing down the Georgia offense doesn’t seem like it’s out of Arkansas’ reach, particularly if talented defensive backs Montaric Brown and Jalen Catalon bring their best games. I think they will.

Arkansas vs. Georgia Pick

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Article Author

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Alex Kirshner covers college football for the Moon Crew newsletter. He is a co-author of The Sinful Seven: Sci-Fi Western Legends of the NCAA, and he lives in Washington, D.C.

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