The 3-0 Georgia Bulldogs go on the road for the second straight week to take on the #23 ranked Ole Miss Rebels at 12 eastern time. (UGA has won their last 4 games on the road which started at noon. Last loss was 2013 at Vanderbilt 31-27.) Though, in my opinion this will be the toughest road game UGA has had at noon in quite awhile. The Las Vegas odds makers agree as UGA is a 7 point underdog, the largest margin since the 2012 SEC Championship game against Alabama.
Some background history of this series, UGA leads the all time series 32-12-1, including winning the last 10 matchups. The last time Ole Miss defeated UGA was in 1996 31-27 in Athens. The most recent game occurred in 2012 in Athens, with UGA winning 37-10, scoring 37 unanswered points after trailing Ole Miss 10-0 in the second quarter. Aaron Murray lead Georgia throwing for 384 yards and 4 TD’s as well as Marlon Brown having 113 receiving yards and 1 TD from 66 yards on a beautiful play action pass. (Video clip here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OXg1buCNOwU) The last time UGA visited Oxford was exactly 5 years ago on September 24, 2011, with the Dawgs winning 27-13 behind tailback Isaiah Crowell’s 147 yards and Safety Bacarri Rambo’s 2 interceptions. In fact, Georgia has won their last 5 games in Oxford dating back to 1997.
Fast forward to this game and there are some intriguing matchups that will determine who wins the ballgame. First, Georgia is going to have to capitalize if Ole Miss turns the ball over which should happened given the way Ole Miss has played the first 3 weeks. Last week against Missouri, UGA got zero points off five Missouri turnovers and was lucky to pull out a one point victory. Second, I’d like to see UGA play more press coverage with the corners and star while having the 2 safeties over top either in Cover 2 or 2 Man Under. Personally, I do not think Strong Safety Quincy Mauger will need to come down in the box much for run support, as Ole Miss struggles running the ball. Finally, it sounds like a broken record but the Georgia Offensive Line needs to play well in the run blocking aspect for Georgia to have a shot. Ole Miss is 13th out of 14th in the SEC in run defense but remember Georgia struggled against Nicholls State. In addition, I’d like to see Offensive Coordinator Jim Chaney call more toss sweeps/outside runs as Nick Chubb had zero toss sweep runs last week against Missouri.
After all the background history and intriguing matchups leading up to this game between two ranked teams, I expect Ole Miss to win 38-28. My heart wants to UGA to win, but my head tells me otherwise. If Drew Lock can throw for over 300 yards in the first half last week against Georgia, Chad Kelly could do the same but more. Kelly has set an Ole Miss school record for at least 1 touchdown pass in 16 straight games passing Eli Manning.
I’ll be cheering the Dawgs in Oxford this weekend with my roommate, my first trip to Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Hopefully the Dawgs will prove me wrong and come home with a victory. No matter what happens, it will be a true southern football experience tailgating at the Grove!
Tyler Agee, Senior Business Management