FAYETTEVILLE, AR – One week after upsetting the Texas A&M Aggies 20-10 in the Southwest Classic down in Dallas, can the eighth-ranked Arkansas Razorbacks notch their second consecutive road upset in Athens against the No.2 Georgia Bulldogs?
Georgia, which boasts arguably the best defense in the country, led by potential 2022 first round pick in nose tackle Jordan Davis, defensive end Travon Walker, defensive tackle Devonte Wyatt and linebackers Adam Anderson, Quay Walker and LB Nakobe Dean. Thanks to what could be a record-setting defense under Kirby Smart, the 2021 Bulldogs could very well emerge into one of the truest threats to Nick Saban and his Crimson Tide dynasty over in Tuscaloosa.
If second-year Razorbacks head coach Sam Pittman hopes to help Arkansas pull off it’s biggest road upset since beating Texas back in 1964, then the ‘Hogs are going to have to lean on their own stout defense to put pressure on JT Daniels and make Georgia as one-dimensional as possible.
While Georgia ranks No.1 in the country in allowing 5.8 points per game, Arkansas ranks third in allowing 14.5 points per game, which tells me that this will be a old-school Big Ten-style slobber-knockeck down in Athens. While Daniels deserves all the publicity and hype he has been getting since transferring from USC, Arkansas has a pretty good QB as well in 6’3 240-pound KJ Jefferson, who is capable of doing his best Cam Newton-Ben Roethlisberger impersonation when he needs too.
For the season, Jefferson has passes for 844 yards, six touchdowns and two interceptions, while also running for 230 yards and two touchdowns on 32 carries. If Arkansas has any chance of pulling off a upset, look for offensive coordinator Kendal Briles—one of college football’s rising stars, a la Joe Brady when he was at LSU—to call a lot of bootlegs, zone reads and tempo to keep Georgia’s vaunted defense at bay.
If Jefferson gets enough time, behind a senior-laden offensive line that has five seniors led by Ty Cleary and Myron Cunningham, to target big play WR Treylon Burks as much as possible. Obviously, if Jefferson is not fully healed from his knee injury he suffered vs. Texas A&M, the underdog Hogs have no shot in Sanford Stadium.
Ultimately, Pittman is going to have to outcoach Smart, one of the top coaches in the country, and possibly the heir apparent to Saban as dean of football coaches in the SEC. Pittman has Arkansas on a high after a big win down in Dallas, and Georgia has a history of choking and losing games that they are favored in.
While many are wise to pick Georgia at home, don’t be too shocked if Arkansas pulls off the upset in Athens.