The Rambling Rebels from Mississippi travel to Athens, Georgia this Saturday to face the sixth-ranked Bulldogs in the 3:30 p.m. slot on CBS.
This seems to be a matchup of two surging teams. Georgia (7-1, 5-1 SEC) has found its defensive legs after having some difficulty early in the season due to player suspensions. This Bulldog team has been at full strength for the last three to four games, and it all seemed to come together for them last week, beating the Florida Gators in Jacksonville 17-9 and preventing the BCS No. 2 Gators from scoring a touchdown.
Ole Miss (5-2, 2-2 SEC) is winning on the arms and legs of junior college QB Bo Wallace, who is right on Georgia QB Aaron Murray’s heels in total offense (239 yards per game to 254.6 yards per game, respectively). The Rebels are also coming off a two-game SEC win streak, beating Auburn in Oxford and Arkansas in Little Rock.
The Rebel fans are seeing amazing progress under first-year head coach Hugh Freeze and hope his winning ways will continue with a tough road game to visit the possible SEC East champion Georgia Bulldogs.
Ole Miss is only one win away from being bowl eligible for the first time since the 2009 season.
Scouting the Bulldogs
Georgia is now in the SEC East driver’s seat, with only Ole Miss and a weakened Auburn standing in the way of a second consecutive trip back to the SEC championship game.
As you would expect from Georgia, it is a strong team, with a lot of future NFL talent. Up until last week, this defense was a little porous, giving up around 370 yards per game. The Bulldogs were ready to play last week against a strong Florida Gators team and held them to 266 total yards (only 75 rushing) and only three field goals.
Georgia junior linebacker Jarvis Jones is one of the top defenders in the league in tackles and is the SEC leader in sacks so far this year.
Freshman running back Todd Gurley is second in the SEC in all-purpose yards with 130 per game. The Bulldogs are averaging 195 yards rushing per game, while the Rebel’s defense surrenders around 150 yards per game on the ground.
Aaron Murray, the junior QB from Georgia, has not been lighting the scoreboard up as many Georgia fans would like, but he has been very efficient and consistent. He currently leads the SEC in passing efficiency and averages 258 passing yards per game, good enough for third most in the league.
Installing the Game Plan
Should we expect the same Bulldog defense from last week for the rest of the year, or did they just get fired up to win the Cocktail Party?
I would personally guess the later. Ole Miss will present some challenges that Florida did not. Florida is a very good team, but over the year has become rather one dimensional, relying on the run game too much. That type of offense does not match up well against a talented Georgia defense.
Normally when playing Georgia, you would focus on the running backs and make the quarterback beat you with the pass, but I’m not sure that is a winning formula against Aaron Murray. The deciding factor in this game will be how Ole Miss’ offense plays against the Georgia defense.
Ole Miss will have to neutralize the Georgia defensive rush with the short passing game. If they are successful, the Rebels will still need some luck to win.
There are not many matchups that favor the Rebels in this game, but the way Bo Wallace and his squad are playing right now, you have to feel confident that the Rebels will at least have a shot in the fourth quarter.