North Carolina plays to gain respect against Georgia.


Florida State has it – Respect. That’s what you get when you win a national title in 2013, beating an Auburn team that was the best team the SEC had to offer. They own Florida now. They’ve beat Clemson, they’ve beat Oklahoma State. They beat a top 10 Georgia Tech team in 2014. Clemson has it. That’s what recent year wins over Georgia, LSU, Ohio State, and Oklahoma can do for you.

North Carolina is on the cusp of it, but it’s not there yet. National Respect comes with winning big games especially out of conference. Last year the best North Carolina squad in nearly 20 years still had a loss to a 3-9 South Carolina team. In the 11 wins North Carolina didn’t beat a team that finished in the top 25. Pittsburgh was the only team they beat that was ranked when they played.

The Tar Heels don’t have to apologize for their wins, but Saturday against the Georgia Bulldogs is a chance for the Heels to prove a lot of skeptics wrong – that last year wasn’t a fluke, and that the Tar Heels are ready to be a playoff contender.

Beating Georgia in the Georgia Dome isn’t impossible. Boise State went into Georgia Dome in 2011, and roughed up the Bulldogs 35-21. The win moved the Broncos from #7 to #4 in country, and Boise State was in the national title discussion until a late season loss to TCU. Georgia was ranked #22 going into that game, and they are #16 going into this game.

While beating Georgia in Georgia will be difficult, there are some things I like. Greyson Lambert has been named the starting quarterback for UGA. Lambert is not an elite qb. He won’t be able to stretch the field against the UNC. He’s a game manager. If UGA had named highly rated freshman Jacob Eason QB, the threat of the unknown and his ability would have been a bigger concern. Georgia’s defensive front 7 has talent, but will be inexperienced. UNC has a solid offensive line plus RB Elijah Hood. I expect the Tar Heels should be able to move the ball with relative ease against Georgia.

What the Tar Heels don’t need to is get into a track meet ala losses to Clemson and Baylor. Georgia has their own great RB in Nick Chubb, and the Tar Heels gave up over 400 yards rushing in the last 3 games. If the Bulldogs run for over 150 yards the Tar Heels likely won’t win. That’s where the game will be won or lost for the Tar Heels, and with a win will come the national respect the Heels are trying to earn.

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