Georgia Bulldogs vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs: Game Day Preview
Mississippi State and Georgia have more in common this season than team mascots. Both are the only two teams in the SEC with two conference loses. Both have 1-2 records overall and are hungry for a win.
On Saturday, they face each other in Starkville, MS for what's likely to be a dawg-eat-dawg contest.
Georgia's Mark Richt was candid about the high-stakes nature of the game, saying, "They're desperate for a victory and so are we."
Dan Mullen referenced the importance of a win for his football club: "If we get out of this run at 2-2, that will hopefully set us up to have a successful season."
The Bulldog teams share some strikingly similar stats heading into Week Four.
Season loses for MSU and Georgia were against ranked teams. MSU's fell to No. 21 Auburn and No. 15 LSU by a total of 25 points. Georgia was defeated by No. 24 South Carolina and No. 12 Arkansas by a combined 18 points.
Both teams have four rushing and five passing touchdowns. They also share a 66.7 percent ratio on fourth down conversions.
Against their last two SEC opponents, Georgia scored 30 points and MSU scored 28 points.
State is averaging 3.9 rushing yards per carry versus 3.7 yards from Georgia. However, Georgia has been without running back Caleb King for two weeks.
On receptions, MSU is averaging 13.4 yards a catch with a long of 57 yards. Georgia is averaging 13.3 yards with a long of 55, but has played without top-rated receiver A.J. Green all three games and will go without him in Starkville too.
The quarterback effort is also comparable. Chris Relf and Tyler Russell have combined for a 59 percent completion on 617 yards. Seven interceptions have hampered their efforts.
Aaron Murray and Hutson Mason, who has only had two snaps this season, have a 60.8 percent completion rate on 638 yards. Murray has two interceptions.
Both canine clubs have been disappointed by their seasoned offensive lines.
Georgia's line has grappled with quarterback protection, allowing six sacks against Arkansas. In addition, they have struggled to create running lanes.
MSU is also falling down on pass protection. Mullen said his line hasn't been communicating well and attributed partial blame for their high number of turnovers to blocking breakdowns.
MSU is allowing an average of 17.7 points per game and Georgia is averaging 18.3 points. Generally, State has had more success stopping their opponents' passing games, especially against LSU. Georgia has been better at shutting down the ground game except in the loss to South Carolina.
Leading tacklers for State are K.J. Wright, with 23, and Chris White, with 22. Georgia's top tacklers are Bacarri Rambo, with 25, and Akeem Dent with 20. UGA has a handful more tackle-for-loss yards than MSU.
MSU and Georgia are within a yard of each other's averages on kick and punt returns, with the slight edge going to State on both.
MSU has turned the ball over more this season, but Georgia has more penalty yards.
Georgia averages higher yards per game on punts and hit all five field goal attempts. MSU missed their only field goal attempt.
Injuries continue to plague Georgia. Players not suiting up for Saturday's game include: Justin Anderson (NG), who is out for the rest of the season, and back-up center Chris Burnette.
Shaun Chapas (FB) and Richard Samuel (LB) are questionable. Probable players include: Chris Davis (OG), Marcus Dowtin (LB), Branden Smith (CB) and King (RB).
For MSU, Marcus Green (TE) and Brandon Henderson (TE) are questionable and a decision isn't expected on either until game-time. Chris Relf is probable. He suffered a blow to the head early in the third quarter during the LSU game.
Odds and ends
Both teams have racked up plenty of blown assignments and missed opportunities during their first three games.
MSU will be expecting the run and play-action passing from Georgia's offense. Now is the time for Offensive Coordinator Mike Bobo to bust open a creative game plan.
Georgia needs to keep Mississippi State from scoring on their first possession—something they've done in every game so far. The secondary will have to stand tall against the double threat from Relf and Russell and keep constant pressure on the passing game.
Georgia hasn't lost to State since 1974 and has a 16-5 advantage in the series. The last time they faced each other was in 2006 in Athens.
Weigh in fans—which Bulldog team will pull off a win?
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