Georgia Football: Bulldogs Take Trying Campaign on the Road to Mississippi

Evan TigheContributor ISeptember 19, 2011

ATHENS, GA - SEPTEMBER 10:  Aaron Murray #11 of the Georgia Bulldogs rushes against DeVonte Holloman #21, Shaq Wilson #54 and Travian Robertson #42 of the South Carolina Gamecocks at Sanford Stadium on September 10, 2011 in Athens, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

It may have taken three weeks and an FCS opponent to do so, but Georgia finally has a notch in the win column. The Bulldogs put together a dominating performance against Coastal Carolina that included 470 yards of total offense while holding the Chanticleers to a paltry 112 yards. Quarterback Aaron Murray seems to have returned to his late 2010 form, putting together an 18-of-26, 188-yard performance following his four-touchdown effort against South Carolina. 

Now Georgia heads to Oxford to take on the Ole Miss Rebels in a must-win game to keep its SEC East hopes alive. A victory would set up a huge game in Athens next week against Mississippi State.  A loss would most likely leave the Bulldogs in the dust behind the division front-runners, as well as turn up the heat a little more on Mark Richt’s coaching seat. 

However, despite South Carolina and Florida’s undefeated records so far, it is not at all a stretch to imagine the Bulldogs still making it to Atlanta.

South Carolina may be the top-ranked team in the East, but it has made no argument to persuade anyone it will finish this season with fewer than two losses. Marcus Lattimore has been impressive, but the Gamecocks still look sub-par offensively with games against Auburn, Arkansas, Mississippi State and Florida looming on the horizon. 

Likewise, the fact that Florida defeated Tennessee this past weekend is moot. As far as the Gators are concerned, Georgia still controls its own destiny and, considering South Carolina’s schedule, the Oct. 29 matchup in Jacksonville may be for the division lead. 

NASHVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 17:  Jonathan Krause #17 of the Vanderbilt Commodores breaks away from Charles Sawyer #3 and Wesley Pendleton #6 of the Ole Miss Rebels at Vanderbilt Stadium on September 17, 2011 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Grant Halvers
Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Of course, there is much to do before then, and it starts on Saturday. 

It would be a mistake to overlook the 1-2 Rebels, especially after a 30-7 drubbing at the hands of Vanderbilt. In the competitive SEC, most fans are wise enough to realize that anyone can beat anyone on any given game day. Ole Miss will be enjoying the comfortable confines of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium and should be ready to lay it all on the line against the Bulldogs. However, neither side of the ball has looked very good as the Rebels are ranked dead last in the SEC in total offense and second to last in defense.

Georgia, on the other hand, has looked to be steadily improving after a season opening loss to Boise State. Shutting out Coastal Carolina was a welcome change after allowing a combined 80 points in its first two games, and the offense seems to have become in-sync after adopting a more quick-hitting passing attack to go along with Isaiah Crowell’s hard-nosed running.

However, if the Bulldogs want to be serious contenders, the progress needs to continue. Just ask Richt. “We do have a lot of room to grow yet,” he said.

“It’s still pretty obvious that we’ve got some youth and inexperience that still needs to improve.” 

If that’s the case, they need to grow up quickly because there is little room for error from here on out.