The sixth-ranked Georgia Bulldogs (7-1, 5-1) will host the Mississippi Rebels (5-2, 2-2) Saturday afternoon at Sanford Stadium for the school’s homecoming game.
Last week, the Bulldogs used a stifling defense to keep the second-ranked Florida Gators in check for most of the day. They took care of the football on offense, avoiding key turnovers that have helped the Gators thrive this season.
Ole Miss is the last significant hurdle in the team’s way of clinching the SEC East title and earning itself a title shot at likely SEC West winner Alabama.
The Rebels have had a bit of an up-and-down 2012 season. They’ve won five games, but lost to the two ranked teams (Alabama (No. 1) and Texas (No. 14 at the time)) that they’ve played.
They need just one more win this season to qualify for a bowl game for the first time since 2009.
When: Saturday, Nov. 3, at 3:30 p.m. ET
Where: Sanford Stadium, Athens, Ga.
Live Stream: SEC Live on CBSSports.com
Spread: Georgia -14 (BetOnline)
Will the Bulldogs cover in Athens?
Georgia is going to cover the 14-point spread and I’m going to tell you why: motivation. It’s the school’s homecoming game and they have everything riding on the outcome of this game. The Bulldogs are also an outstanding 71-17-2 in homecoming games since 1922.
The biggest factor is that the underachieving Bulldogs’ defense finally made a statement game last week by forcing six Gators turnovers and preventing them from getting into the end zone.
Over/Under: 62.5 (BetOnline)
Not that it’s indicative of anything, but the Ole Miss Rebels held Alabama to a season-low 33 points during their 33-14 loss on Sept. 29. They also surrendered 66 to Texas just two weeks before that.
Georgia, on the other hand, has been susceptible of giving up some points when the offense doesn’t click. The Bulldogs have allowed point highs of 44 (Tennessee), South Carolina (35) and 24 (Kentucky). The takeaway here is that none of those teams is considered an offensive juggernaut.
I think that at least one of these teams' defenses will show up this week despite what looks to be a high-scoring affair.
Look for a relatively big day for the Bulldogs’ offense, but the Rebels will not reciprocate, leaving the final score well under the 62.5 betting point. Chances are it will be a tough-fought SEC grinder that fails to meet the expectations of both of these offenses’ potential.
They’ve both put up points against cupcake competition but haven’t against a decent SEC defense.
Georgia Injury Report (via USA Today)
OL David Andrews, Knee, Probable
G Chris Burnette, Thumb, Probable
FB Merritt Hall, Ankle, Probable
LB Chase Vasser, Shoulder, Questionable
DE Dexter Morant, Illness, Questionable
DE Abry Jones, Ankle, Out for Season (10/26)
Ole Miss Injury Report (via USA Today)
DB Senquez Golson, Head, Probable
DE Cameron Whigham, Knee, Probable
OL Justin Bell, Back, Questionable
DT Woodrow Hamilton, Ankle, Questionable
WR Collins Moore, Shoulder, Out for Season (10/24)
As I already mentioned, both of these teams have a lot riding on this game. If Georgia can win this game, it will have an easy road to winning the SEC East and getting its shot at Alabama for the SEC title and perhaps, depending on results around the nation, a chance at the BCS championship.
Ole Miss doesn’t have a BCS bowl game in its future, for this season at least. The Rebels are playing solely to earn a bowl berth and have a tough road ahead of them if they’re going to achieve that.
Keys for Ole Miss Victory
The key for the Rebels will be to make Aaron Murray beat them. To do that, they’ll need to shut down Todd Gurley. The freshman tailback has had five 100-yard games this season including last week’s big game against Florida.
Georgia is dealing with some injuries along the offensive line, so the Rebels might be able to take advantage of that by clamping down on Turley and then pressuring Murray and forcing him to make mistakes. That’s something he’s shown he has a propensity to do once the heat is on.
South Carolina limited Gurley and Keith Marshall to 76 yards combined and then laid the pressure on Murray. The senior quarterback finished just 11-of-31 passing for 109 yards and one interception. He was sacked twice.
Keys for Bulldogs Victory
Georgia needs to continue to improve defensively if they have any prayer of competing with the Alabama Crimson tide in an eventual SEC Title game. Another dominating performance in this game against a pretty good Rebels offense will do unending amounts of confidence for the unit as they get closer to the end of the season.
Jarvis Jones had 13 tackles, three sacks, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries last week. He’ll be the focal point of a defensive front that is emerging as a true SEC-tough unit.
The Rebels have lost nine straight against the Bulldogs and that’s not going to change at Sanford Stadium with the Bulldogs’ BCS hopes on the line. It hasn’t happened since 1996 and the losing streak is going to extend to a series-high 10 games.
Georgia will control the pace of the game with freshman running back Todd Gurley. Gurley became the first rusher to go over the 100-yard mark against the Florida Gators when he hit 118 yards on 23 carries during the team’s upset over Florida last week.
Predicted Score: Georgia 31, Ole Miss 13