No. 1 Georgia looks poised for another big win as Ball State visits Sanford Stadium (2024)

ATHENS, Ga.ATHENS, Ga.—No. 1 Georgia was supposed to be hitting the road for a most intriguing matchup.

Instead, the Bulldogs will be facing another overmatched opponent between the hedges on Saturday.

Coming off a 48-7 victory over FCS opponent Tennessee-Martin in a season opener that was little more than a glorified scrimmage, Georgia is a 43.5-point favorite against Ball State, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

Coach Kirby Smart did his best to talk up the Cardinals (0-1), but there’s nothing to indicate this will be anything more than a second straight romp for the two-time reigning national champion Bulldogs (1-0).

“I think they’ve got a really good football team,” said Smart, putting his coach-speak skills to the test. “Got a lot of respect for their conference.”

Oh, what might have been.

Georgia was initially scheduled to travel to Oklahoma this weekend for the first regular-season meeting between the storied programs.

But, when the Sooners and fellow Big 12 school Texas stunningly announced they were bolting for the Southeastern Conference, the Bulldogs were directed by the SEC office to dump their trip to Norman to accommodate future scheduling for the two new members.

That led to a hastily arranged home game against Ball State, quite a letdown from what would have been one of the week’s most anticipated showdowns at No. 18 Oklahoma.

Ball State opened the season against another SEC school, losing at Kentucky 44-14. Now, it’s a chance to face a defending national champion for the first time in school history.

“This is what you want,” coach Mike Neu said. “When you’re a kid growing up, playing the game of football and you fall in love with it, this is the type of stage that you dream about.”

BECK’S DEBUT

Smart said he was pleased with Carson Beck’s first start as Georgia’s quarterback, even if some fans and media were less than impressed.

Beck overcame a sluggish first half to complete 21 of 31 passes for 294 yards and one touchdown. He also ran for a score.

“I don’t understand,” said Smart, scoffing. “There will be incompletions in games. There will be looks that maybe they fool you with, you didn’t see in the scouting report. But his run-check game, his carrying out his fakes, his decisions in the pocket, him throwing the ball away, I thought the guy — for a first start — played really well.”

INJURY REPORT

Two key members of the Georgia offense, receiver Ladd McConkey and running back Daijun Edwards, didn’t play in the opener because of injuries.

Smart indicated both could be ready to go against Ball State, though the Bulldogs figure to be extra careful in bringing them back with an SEC game against South Carolina looming the following week.

Edwards, who has a sprained knee ligament, probably could have played against Tennessee-Martin, according to Smart.

“He practiced. He warmed up. He did everything leading up to the game,” Smart said. “I feel pretty good about Daijun.”

The coach didn’t sound as optimistic about McConkey, who has been slowed by a back injury.

“He’s day-to-day,” Smart said. “He’s dealing with some back pain that’s been lingering for him.”

COOPER REDUX

Even though these teams are meeting for the first time, the Bulldogs are familiar with Ball State’s top running back.

Marquez Cooper played last season at another Mid-American Conference school, Kent State, who lost to Georgia 39-22 in a surprisingly hard-fought contest.

Cooper carried 22 times for 90 yards and a touchdown in that game. Now, after transferring to Ball State, he’s got another shot at the Bulldogs.

“Really physical, downhill, power runner, good back,” Smart said. “Our guys were talking about … how powerful he was and how ironic it is you’re playing against him again at a different school in the same conference.”

MEWS STEPS UP

Receiver Mekhi Mews is carrying on the Georgia tradition of walk-ons making an outsized contribution.

With McConkey and Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint sidelined in the opener, Mews took a screen pass 54 yards for a touchdown and finished with three catches for 75 yards. He added another 50 yards on returns.

“Out of high school, I was not highly recruited,” said Mews, who grew up about 45 minutes from the Georgia campus in suburban Atlanta. “I just wanted to make the most of it once I got here, put my head down every day and work.”

COMPETITIVE CARDINALS

Ball State was more competitive against Kentucky than the 30-point margin would indicate.

The Cardinals dominated time of possession and finished respectably close (357-295) in total yards, but a pair of turnovers before halftime allowed the Wildcats to pull away.

“I really feel like, man, if there’s any way we could just remove that second quarter,” Neu said. “It certainly felt like there were a lot of positives going on.”

___

AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll

No. 1 Georgia looks poised for another big win as Ball State visits Sanford Stadium (2024)

FAQs

Why is Georgia stadium called Sanford Stadium? ›

In 1981, the east end was enclosed to increase seating to 82,000; lights were added in 1982. The stadium was named in honor of Steadman V. Sanford, who served as president of the University and chancellor of the University System, and was also on the faculty for 42 years.

How much did Georgia pay Ball State? ›

The guarantee for the Mid-American Conference school to play in Sanford Stadium in Athens on Sept. 9, 2023 is $1.6 million, according to a contract obtained by the Athens Banner-Herald on Wednesday from Ball State via an open records request. The schools entered into the agreement effective on July 12.

How many people does Sanford Stadium in Athens Georgia hold? ›

Filled on Saturdays to its 92,746 capacity, Dooley Field at Sanford Stadium has long been one of the country's most beautiful and electrifying arenas for college football. Georgia's average home attendance has ranked among the nation's top 10 for more than two decades.

When was Sanford Stadium expanded? ›

Sanford Stadium
Construction
Expanded1949, 1964, 1967, 1981, 1991, 1994, 2000, 2003, 2018
Construction costUS$360,000 ($6.39 million in 2023 dollars)
ArchitectAtwood and Nash Heery International (1967 expansion)
Tenants
12 more rows

What is the biggest stadium in Georgia? ›

Mercedes-Benz Stadium
OwnerGeorgia World Congress Center Authority
OperatorAMB Sports and Entertainment Group
Executive suites190
CapacityAmerican football: 71,000 (Expandable to 75,000) Soccer: 42,500 (Expandable to 71,000, standing room to at least 73,019)
Construction
23 more rows

What is the largest stadium in the US? ›

Michigan Stadium at the University of Michigan is the largest college football stadium with a capacity of 107,601. Michigan Stadium is not only the largest college football stadium, but also the largest stadium in the United States.

How much money does UGA make off football? ›

But only partly. Georgia announced Wednesday that its revenue for the 2021-22 fiscal year — covering the first national championship season — was $203 million, up considerably from $179 million in the last pre-COVID fiscal year.

Is Ball State any good in football? ›

The Cardinals have a 476–455–32 record, which ranks below the top 50 most victories among NCAA FBS programs. Ball State was originally classified as a teacher's college, participating in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) from 1937 until 1956.

Is Ball State for profit? ›

Ball State University is a public institution that was founded in 1918. It has a total undergraduate enrollment of 14,416 (fall 2022), its setting is suburban, and the campus size is 1,282 acres.

How many people will fit in Sanford Stadium? ›

What college football teams have the biggest stadium? ›

Michigan Stadium is the largest American football stadium by seating capacity. Stadiums are ordered by seating capacity.

Who has the biggest championship stadium? ›

Sunderland

What is the loudest Sanford Stadium has been? ›

The loudest crowd in college football history was recorded at 133.6 decibels. The crowd at Sanford Stadium at one point read 132.6 decibels.

What is the oldest college stadium? ›

Franklin Field is the oldest still operating college football stadium in the nation. It was the first college stadium in the United States with a scoreboard and the second with an upper deck of seats.

Why is it called Sanford Stadium? ›

The Sanford name originates from Dr. Steadman Vincent Sanford, an early strongman behind University of Georgia (UGA) athletics.IN 1903, he arrived at UGA as an English instructor and later on became the faculty representative to the athletics committee.

What does Clemson call their stadium? ›

Clemson's Memorial Stadium, also commonly known as “Death Valley”, has been held in high esteem by its visitors for many years.

Why was Martin stadium renamed? ›

Pullman, Washington, U.S. Its full name is Gesa Field at Martin Stadium due to Richland-based Gesa Credit Union signing a 10-year sponsorship deal in 2021 for the playing surface; it has used artificial turf since its inception in 1972, with infilled FieldTurf used since 2000.

Why is it called Bryant Denny Stadium? ›

Tuscaloosa, Alabama, U.S. Opened 95 years ago in 1929, it was originally named Denny Stadium in honor of George H. Denny, the school's president from 1912 to 1932. In 1975, the state legislature added longtime head coach and alumnus Paul "Bear" Bryant to the stadium's name.

Why is Beaver Stadium called that? ›

It was also the site of university commencements until 1984. The stadium, as well as its predecessors, is named after James A. Beaver (1837–1914), a governor of Pennsylvania (1887–91), president of the university's board of trustees, and native of nearby Millerstown.

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