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Belk Bowl Tuesday Cardinal News And Notes

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It's almost that time.

I_medium Spread Check (Belk Bowl): Georgia by 7.

I_medium Spread Check (LBSU): Louisville by 19.

I_medium Beating Georgia tonight would go a long way towards Louisville achieving its ultimate goal of being viewed as a top-tier college football program in the future.

I_medium Man, I'm gonna miss this guy.

I_medium Louisville-Kentucky was the most-watched college basketball game in the history of ESPN2.

I_medium Georgia cornerback Damian Swann was awfully confident during Monday's media day festivities, especially when he was asked if he could compare Louisville to an SEC team that Georgia has already played.

Nah, I don't want to give them comparisons to any team in our conference. They're not one of the teams in our conference. They're a team in their own conference, and we've gotta treat 'em like that.

I_medium Montrezl Harrell checks in at No. 6 on NBC Sports' latest POY rankings.

I_medium Georgia's offensive philosophy is to run to set up the pass, and Mark Richt says that's not going to change in the Belk Bowl.

I_medium Jay Bilas doesn't think it's time to turn the page on Chris Jones.

I_medium Four-star defensive tackle Tim Settles discusses his final college choices, a list which includes U of L.

I_medium For the folks in Charlotte:

I_medium At No. 13, Georgia is going to be the fourth highest-ranked team Louisville has ever played in a bowl game. The Bulldogs are more highly thought of than Alabama was when the Cards beat them in the Fiesta Bowl and than Wake Forest was in the 2006 Orange Bowl. Kind of puts the evening's significance in a bit more perspective.

I_medium A pair of NBA scouts who attended Saturday's Louisville-Kentucky game discuss what they saw.

Louisville:

Chris Jones just cannot shoot and takes too many tough shots. [Terry] Rozier was solid. He can score. [Wayne] Blackshear, [Chinanu] Onuaku, and [Mangok] Mathiang did not impact the game enough to make a difference today. The length of Kentucky caused fits for Blackshear and his ability to make shots. He really struggled shooting the ball today. [Montrezl] Harrell didn't have one of his better games. Too passive offensively and did not dominate the glass. He was more of a passer today than a threat to score in the half court other than a couple nice post moves.

NBA SCOUT 2:

Tyler Ulis played the best, smart, skilled, likes the big stage, sees the floor and does what the coach wants, leading them to a nice win in this great local rivalry. Karl-Anthony Towns did a good job battling underneath, defending the goal and scoring 10 points and 9 rebounds. Terry Rozier had 15 points, 8 rebounds and 2 steals but was forced to do too much in this intense defensive contest.

I_medium Some ugly news regarding former Cardinal linebacker Nate Harris, who was arrested after reportedly committing a string of robberies in Louisville around Christmas.

I_medium One of two men who are in the middle of a quest to visit every FBS stadium in the country says that Papa John's Cardinal Stadium is the loudest of the 27 he's been to so far. The other picked LSU's Tiger Stadium.

I_medium The Boston Globe says Saturday's Louisville-Kentucky game was "unwatchable."

I_medium He made the right call. He always does.

I_medium Georgia players put the kibosh on any sort of "disinterested" talk.

Several Georgia players I spoke to pointed to the loss to Georgia Tech as a reason they'd be motivated. After all, this is the first time any of these players have headed into bowl season off a loss to their in-state rival.

"With us losing that last game, and everything that's going on, everybody's motivated," linebacker Amarlo Herrera said. "Everybody's together, and has been all year."

"Winning the game is pretty much all the motivation we need," cornerback Damian Swann said. "We lose a tough one at home against Tech. That normally doesn't happen. So we've got to find a way to get our edge and leave this play with a victory."

I_medium Teddy Bridgewater finished 2014 with the third-highest completion percentage of any rookie in NFL history, and was the league's fourth leading passer overall for the month of December.

Pick a joke: skinny knees, pro day, Johnny Manziel, gloves; whatever. People thought Teddy wouldn't be good because they are dumb.

I_medium Texas was embarrassed by Arkansas last night in one of the worst bowl performances I can ever remember seeing, but this may have been the most surprising thing anyone witnessed all night:

I_medium Suddenly, some folks in Georgia are calling tonight's game UGA's most important bowl in recent memory because of the pressure on Mark Richt.

"The man's dealt with a lot over the last couple weeks," Mason said. "It doesn't help that we didn't beat Tech."

That loss has magnified, you could also say exaggerated, a lot of the program's supposed flaws and issues. There's heat from fans. There's also what appears to be a strained relationship between coaches and the administration.

It all makes this one of the most important bowl games Georgia has had in recent memory: Lose to Louisville, and the perception of a struggling program only intensifies. But win, and Georgia is a 10-win team that could finish ranked in the top 10.

"Were those the primary goals when the season began, no," Richt admitted. "But where we're at, there's still some very positive things that could happen to finish the season well."

I_medium Team Speed Kills, which covers the SEC for SB Nation, likes Georgia in a close one tonight.

PREDICTION

Georgia's offense and Louisville's defense are both so good that they deserve each other, and I mean that as a compliment to them both. Unless Louisville is able to force multiple turnovers, the UGA offense vs. UofL defense match-up likely ends in more or less a stalemate. Therefore, the overall difference in the game will likely come from UGA exploiting its advantages in the defensive and special teams realms, especially if they are successful in quarantining Parker. This game should be entertaining and competitive to the very end. Georgia 21, Louisville 17

I_medium SI previews the Belk Bowl.

I_medium Draft Express breaks down Montrezl Harrell's performance against Kentucky's bigs.

I_medium Almost time.

I_medium Athlon likes Louisville to cover, but Georgia to win tonight.

I_medium Here's a very cool story out of Bowling Green on Nate Jones, a lifelong U of L fan who finally got to realize his dream of attending a home game.

Nate Jones has been a University of Louisville basketball fan since he was a boy growing up in Logan County.

"I just love them," he said. "It was just all my life, they're my team."

Jones watches all the Cardinals' games on TV at Greenwood Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, where he's lived for four years, and has always wanted to attend a game in person. That wish came true Saturday, when he cheered on his team from the stands of the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville as it faced the University of Kentucky Wildcats.

It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for Jones.

"I had a hard time believing I was really there," he said.

...

Lori Woodward, director of social services at the nursing home, applied to the Dream Foundation in 2013 to request Cardinals tickets for Jones, who was diagnosed with throat cancer that year.

"I thought it would be fun for him," she said.

"It's the best thing I've ever done for somebody," she said.

Woodward wanted to do something special for Jones, who remained in high spirits even while facing difficulties with his chemotherapy and radiation treatments, she said. He also won several medals at the Senior Olympics last year.

Jones said he couldn't believe it when he received the tickets last week as a Christmas present.

"We had Santa give it to him," Woodward said. "He started crying."

Wonderful.

I_medium The seventh-ranked U of L women's team had no trouble with Evansville Monday night.

I_medium Priorities.

I_medium SB Nation's Bill Connelly discusses the biggest questions in all three bowl games tonight.

I_medium Tom Fornelli of CB likes Georgia, 20-17.

I_medium There aren't a lot of bowl games featuring two top 20 teams, which makes tonight special.

I_medium Here's the latest skinny on the Belk Bowl kids: At least 100 (hopefully a few more if some things work out) kids will be attending the game (with food and drink vouchers), wearing Go Cards shirts and sitting in the section next to the U of L band. We also have some excess funds that we need to decide what to do with. I'll have a longer post on all of this tomorrow, but for now, thank you so much to everyone who made this possible. Hopefully we'll have a few shots of the kids to share tonight.

I_medium And finally, beat Georgia (and Long Beach State).