Kickoff: 12:30 p.m. (TV: Lincoln Financial TV, Radio: 940-AM)
Stadium: Sanford Stadium (92,746)
Tickets: Sold out Kickoff weather: High of 85, low of 67; isolated thunderstorms; 30 percent chance of rain
Series: First meeting
Odds: No odds made on Division I-A vs. I-AA games
Injuries: Georgia: Probable: FB Des Williams (knee), DL Ray Gant (shoulder), WR Demiko Goodman (hip flexor); Questionable: CB Bryan Evans (knee); Out: FB Jason Johnson (ankle); OL Zeb McKinzey (shoulder), DL Marquis Elmore (knee); Suspended: OL Dan Inman, OL Ian Smith, CB Thomas Flowers, LB Dannell Ellerbe.
Georgia finally will unveil what it calls a new-and-improved Thomas Brown on the rest of the world. Brown has taken his game up a level even from the 5.1 yards per carry he averaged in his first two seasons, his coaches and teammates say. Brown could start putting some distance between himself and Kregg Lumpkin and Danny Ware today. Western Kentucky is led by Lerron Moore, who already has two 1,000-yard seasons and has averaged 5.5 yards per carry for his career. Fifty-six percent of the Hilltoppers' offense came on the ground last year.
Joe Tereshinski finally gets a chance today to prove to all his doubters that he can throw the ball. He'll need a little help though, so a very thin offensive line has to block and his receivers have to catch. A good start today could cement him for the remainder of the season. His counterpart is on the opposite end of the experience scale. Justin Haddix has started 36 straight games and is second all-time at WKU in passing yards (5,743) and touchdowns (36).
The Bulldogs hope to show a little more burst this year than they had last. A handful of highly regarded newcomers are expected to play, including defensive tackle Kade Weston and defensive backs Asher Allen and Prince Miller. The Hilltoppers use a 3-4 defense, with three defensive linemen and four linebackers, and they will move their lineman around a lot before the snap in an attempt to confuse Georgia. WKU's best defensive player is cornerback Dennis Mitchell, who has NFL potential.
Both teams have All-America candidates kicking extra points and field goals. Western Kentucky's Chris James is a already a preseason All-American. The Fayetteville native hit 15-of-17 field goals last year. Georgia counters with Brandon Coutu, who hit 23-of-29, including a 58-yarder. The Bulldogs have the edge at punter with Gordon Ely-Kelso, who averaged 42.9 per kick last year, more than WKU's Tanner Siewert. The Bulldogs will unveil a new kickoff return strategy, putting only one man deep instead of the traditional two.
The Bulldogs can go ahead and chalk up a win, but there are things they need to prove today. It starts with Tereshinski, who needs to play well to hold onto his job and to give his teammates confidence he can lead them. The offensive line also has to validate Richt's confidence in it, and there still are lingering questions about Georgia's linebackers.
A victory is a given; a big victory would be better. Winner: Georgia