One of the marquee matchups in Week 1 of the 2022 college football season features defending national champion Georgia taking on Oregon at a “neutral site” in Atlanta.
Which way to lean at BMR’s top-rated sportsbooks?
Oregon Ducks vs. Georgia Bulldogs
Saturday, September 3, 2022 – 03:30 PM EDT at Mercedes-Benz Stadium
Yes, college football technically returned last Saturday for Week Zero, but let’s be honest in that those matchups were all yawners.
Every ranked school is in action in Week 1 and one of two matchups featuring a pair of Top 25 teams is No. 11 Oregon against defending national champion and No. 3 Georgia in the annual Chick-Fil-A Kickoff game from Atlanta.
It’s technically a neutral site, but that’s obviously laughable as UGA’s campus is about 70 miles from Mercedes-Benz Stadium and Oregon’s Eugene home is about 2,600 miles away. This game always features a nearby SEC school to help with attendance. Georgia has played in it twice, beating North Carolina in 2016 and losing to Boise State in 2011.
The Dawgs were to play in it in 2020 vs. Virginia, but it was canceled due to COVID. Oregon never has played in this NCAAF matchup. The only other Pac-12 school to do so was Washington in 2018 when it lost to Auburn.
It’s the second all-time meeting between Oregon and Georgia, and the Dawgs won the first 27-16 in 1977 at Sanford Stadium.
Lanning Era Starts At Oregon
No question the No. 1 storyline for this game will be the head coaching debut of Oregon’s Dan Lanning. He just so happened to be the coordinator of that historically good Georgia defense last year that led the Dawgs to the national title.
Lanning was hired before the College Football Playoff but stayed on through it.
Dan Lanning's Data Analysis
Lanning replaces Mario Cristobal, who probably only would have left Oregon and its Phil Knight/Nike money for one school: Miami, which is Cristobal’s alma mater.
The 36-year-old Lanning is the Ducks’ third head coach since Willie Taggart took the job after the 2016 season and fourth since Chip Kelly left for the NFL after the 2012 season.
It’s the first time since Oregon hired Rich Brooks in 1977 that it focused on a defensive head coach.
Lanning and Dillingham
Kenny Dillingham is UO’s offensive coordinator. He spent the previous two seasons at Florida State and “brings a proven track record for developing quarterbacks” according to Lanning. He and Dillingham were on staff together at Memphis in 2016 and 2017.
The Ducks reached the Pac-12 title game last year but were throttled by Utah and then routed by Oklahoma in the Alamo Bowl to finish 10-4. This could be a mini-rebuilding year.
As of this writing, Lanning hasn’t named his official starting QB, but it’s expected to be Auburn transfer Bo Nix. He was the SEC Freshman of the Year in 2019 and pretty good again in the COVID-shortened 2020 season, but took a step back in 2021.
Nix did face Georgia last year with the Dawgs winning 34-10 at Auburn. Nix was 21-for-38 for 217 yards with a pick and had minus-16 yards rushing on 10 carries.
The Ducks also lost leading rusher Travis Dye (1,271 yards, 16 TDs) via transfer to USC, and star pass-rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux was the No. 5 overall pick in the NFL Draft by the Giants.
On the bright side, the offensive line should be a strength. And Noah Sewell, brother of former Ducks All-American offensive lineman Penei Sewell, now playing for the Detroit Lions, is one of the country’s top linebackers.
Oregon is given a season win total of 8.5 at BMR’s top-rated books. It could win the Pac-12 only as that conference is relatively weak, with no divisions any longer. The Ducks are 1-4 ATS on the NCAAF odds in their past five non-conference games.
UGA Defense With Only Three Starters Back
The 2021 Georgia defense will go down as one of the best in college football history without question, but that unit was absolutely gutted this offseason with only three starters back, although Coach Kirby Smart simply can plug in new five-star recruits.
Success of Georgia's Defense in the Draft
A whopping five UGA defenders were taken in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft, a record in the common draft era:
- Travon Walker No. 1 to the Jaguars
- Jordan Davis No. 13 by the Eagles
- Quay Walker No. 22 by the Packers
- Devonte Wyatt No. 28 by the Packers
- Lewis Cine No. 32 by the Vikings
Georgia also set an overall record with 15 total players drafted: Eight on defense, six on offense and even punter Jake Camarda in the sixth round by the Bucs.
Don’t feel too bad as UGA has two early projected Top 10 NCAAF picks in the 2023 draft on defense in tackle Jalen Carter and cornerback Kelee Ringo. Linebacker Nolan Smith also could be a first-rounder.
The offense might have to carry the load early. Quarterback Stetson Bennett isn’t considered an NFL prospect so he opted to return. Bennett perhaps unfairly is considered simply a game manager but finished fourth in the nation in passing efficiency (176.69) with 29 touchdowns and 7 interceptions and was terrific in the title game vs. Alabama.
UGA did lose its top two running backs in Zamir White and James Cook but might have the nation’s top group of tight ends led by Brock Bowers, who led the team with 56 catches, 882 yards, and 13 TDs as a freshman.
Georgia is given a win total of 10.5, which frankly seems high on the surface, but the regular-season schedule is very easy. The Dawgs are +500 third favorites to repeat as national champions and I don’t see that, although they probably return to the SEC title game.
Obviously, Week 1 is the toughest to handicap. So many changes for both schools here but my thinking is that if anyone can gameplan for Georgia, it’s Lanning.
Oregon can stay within 17 as computer simulations I have run have the final score something like 34-18.
*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.