This week’s predictions and projections:
1. Will Georgia finally win a game convincingly?
In five of their six games thus far, the Bulldogs have been trailing in the second half. The exception was last week at South Carolina, and it still took a late onsides kick recovery (and touchdown) to put that game away. This week, Georgia is favored by 14 over Vanderbilt. There are some good reasons to think this will be closer than that. Vanderbilt may only be 2-4, but it comes in having lost its last two (to Florida and at Kentucky) by only seven. Vanderbilt’s point differential this season is minus-24, while Georgia’s is minus-14. Not too much difference there. And yet … yes, do look for the Bulldogs to finally win a game convincingly. They have way more talent, and after all these close calls shouldn’t be taking anyone lightly.
2. What immediate impact will Jonathan Ledbetter make?
A mild one, at least on Saturday. The sophomore will play a bigger role down the stretch, but this game will be more about getting back in action. He almost certainly won’t start, and likely will end up playing in the area of 15-25 snaps.
3. How better will Jacob Eason be compared to last week?
Well, it’ll be hard to throw for less than 29 yards, the least Georgia has passed for in a game since the first Bush Administration. Eason will fare better against a Vanderbilt pass defense that ranks fourth in the SEC – but hasn’t exactly played a murderer’s row. It gave up 399 passing yards to Middle Tennessee, and 291 to Western Kentucky. This time, look for Eason to get off the snide with about 225-250 passing yards, a couple touchdowns, but also one interception.
4. Who rushes for the most yards: Ralph Webb or someone from Georgia?
Webb has basically been Vanderbilt’s offense, rushing for 682 yards this year. That’s more than Nick Chubb (546), Brian Herrien (340) or Sony Michel (330). And you’d think that Georgia’s now three-headed attack will split carries enough that Webb, even if he doesn’t have a great day, will lead the way. But if there’s one area that Georgia has actually been consistently decent this year, it’s run defense. And if Vanderbilt falls behind Webb will run less. So the guess here is Chubb, continuing to look like his old self, will have a big day.
5. Will Tennessee upset Alabama?
No. The Volunteers are probably the best team in the SEC East, but the injuries are too much, and Alabama is too good. As Saturday ends, Georgia and Tennessee will be tied with two conference losses each, though the Volunteers will have the head-to-head tiebreaker and the easier schedule down the stretch. Oh, and Florida should be alone in first with one loss, presuming it beats Missouri at home. But man, look at the Gators have left: Georgia in Jacksonville, at Arkansas, South Carolina in Gainesville, and at LSU.