The Mississippi State Bulldogs (6-3) will look to catch the No. 1 ranked Georgia Bulldogs (9-0) in hangover mode on Saturday after the visitors to Starkville took down Tennessee in a huge win last time out.
By Steve Wright
Here are the three keys to what would be a monumental upset.
Get On Top Early
This is a game where MSU has to start fast. The Bulldogs are great at home – they are 5-0 in Starkville and 1-3 on the road – and the home crowd will be well up for this one. Georgia is fighting against a double letdown game hear as the “Game of the Century” against the Vols came immediately on the back of their rivalry game win over Florida. Those two games had huge stakes, this one is against an SEC crossover opponent that Georgia could take lightly. If MSU gets up a couple of scores early while Georgia is coming down from their high of two massive wins, this suddenly gets interesting.
Efficient Big Plays
The MSU passing game is as efficient as any team in the country. The problem in the losses has been an absence of big plays. The Mike Leach approach is one of death by 1,000 cuts, hitting short pass after short pass from the super-accurate Will Rogers and waiting for one to break. This failed in a big way against an Alabama team that doesn’t miss tackles in the secondary, and Georgia is even better in the defensive back seven than the Crimson Tide. The efficiency has to be there – MSU is 6-0 throwing for over 300 yards and 0-3 when it doesn’t – but some of those plays have to break open for chunk yards.
Take the Ball Away
If this game goes drive for drive with equal possessions, then Georgia wins. The way that MSU flips this is to take the ball away and out possession the rival Bulldogs by having a turnover ratio of at least +2 by the end of the game. Stetson Bennett is a very solid quarterback, but there is a reason he isn’t in the Heisman conversation despite helming the No. 1 team in the country. He is very hard to get to – the Georgia lines on both sides of the ball are immense – but a pass rush will cause him to make mistakes. They have to be capitalized on.
Saturday‘s game begins at 6:00 PM CT (7:00 PM ET). You can watch this SEC football game on the ESPN Network.