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Saturday January 28th, 2023 6:31PM

No. 2 Georgia looks to continue strong start against Samford

By The Associated Press
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Samford (1-0) vs. No. 2 Georgia (1-0), Saturday, 4 p.m. ET (SEC Network)

Line: No line according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

Series record: Georgia leads 1-0.

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

One week before its Southeastern Conference opener against South Carolina, Georgia will look to continue gaining momentum for its defense of the 2021 national championship. Coming off last week's lopsided 49-3 rout of then-No. 11 Oregon, the Bulldogs and their fans could be in a celebratory mood for their home opener, so the visit from FCS Samford could be a test of focus if not skill. Samford moved into the Stats Perform FCS Top 25 at No. 25 with a win over the Kennesaw State.

KEY MATCHUP

Georgia defensive backs Kelee Ringo and Christopher Smith against Samford WR Kendall Watson. Ringo and Smith, who had an interception last week, are two of only three returning starters on a defense which lost eight NFL draft picks, including five in the first round. The secondary should be busy against Samford's passing game. Watson had nine receptions for 187 yards and two touchdowns against Kennesaw State.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Samford: QB Michael Hiers, a junior college transfer making his first start, completed 18 of 24 passes for 289 yards and four touchdowns against Kennesaw State. Hiers threw two scoring passes to Chandler Smith in addition to the two TDs to Watson.

Georgia: RB Kenny McIntosh was busy as a receiver when opening the season as the starting running back. McIntosh set career highs with nine catches for 117 yards and added five carries for 18 yards and a touchdown against Oregon.

FACTS & FIGURES

Chris Hatcher, then the Valdosta State coach, hired Georgia coach Kirby Smart for his first coaching job, as defensive backs coach, in 2000. Georgia co-defensive coordinator Will Muschamp was defensive coordinator on that Valdosta State staff. ... Samford was one of the college options for Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett before he decided to walk on at Georgia in 2017. ... Bennett passed for a career-high 368 yards with two touchdowns last week and was named the Walter Camp national FBS offensive player of the week. ... Hatcher, also the former coach at Murray State and Georgia Southern, is 41-36 in his eighth season at Samford. His “Hatch Attack” passing offense ranked ninth among FCS schools last season.

___

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