I have seen more than a few folks suggest this week that Saturday’s game reminds them of two previous Georgia games, the 2017 Mississippi State game and the 2015 one against Alabama. Apparently, Arkansas is like MSU in the former and Georgia in the latter.
Honestly, I’m not feeling it. That 2017 Mississippi State team’s rep coming in was built on a whipping of an LSU team that lost a couple of weeks later to Troy and finished 9-4. Arkansas’ resume already has two wins over top-20 teams. In 2015, Georgia actually found itself as the favorite in several quarters; nobody in Vegas sees the Hogs in a similar light.
But the real reason I’m not seeing it is because there’s been a complete absence of cockiness and trash talk emanating from Fayetteville this week. Sam Pittman isn’t Dan Mullen. And I doubt his team makes a pre-game effort to stare down the Dawgs, as Georgia tried with ‘Bama. (Yeah, that worked well.)
Some of that — probably a lot of that — is because of the personal relationship Pittman and Smart share. There’s too much respect flowing both ways for either to let their teams show their ass.
But there’s another factor that I think is in play here. Arkansas under Pittman is an impressive 11-3 against the spread. And, if anything, that’s intensified in 2021. The topper is that, per Bill Connelly ($$), Georgia’s been overachieving, too.
Georgia Bulldogs: 75% vs. the spread, +14.4 points per game. The only time the Bulldogs didn’t cover this year was when they allowed South Carolina (+31.5) a garbage-time touchdown to turn a 40-6 cover into a 40-13 loss. The Dawgs have been rampant and just passed Alabama for No. 1 in both SP+ and ESPN’s FPI.
Arkansas Razorbacks: 100% vs. the spread, +13.3 points per game. The Hogs were projected to improve, but they’ve done more than that — they’ve already taken down both Texas and Texas A&M, and they’re 4-0 for the first time in 18 years. Now they get a shot at fellow overachiever Georgia.
Georgia’s already beaten the spread by more than 25 points in two games this season and the Dawgs have absolutely trashed Connelly’s SP+ as a predictor, missing Georgia games by an average of 16.4.
Both of these teams are way beyond living up to expectations so far this season. Trash talking that kind of effort seems pretty silly. In other words, save the comparisons for another time.