Even though UGA and MSU are charter members of the SEC, they have only met 22 times with the first meeting in 1914. Georgia holds the edge in the series at 16-6. Mississippi State is looking for their first win in Athens since 1956. The most recent meeting in Athens was 2006, a game that came down to the wire. With 18 seconds left, down by three points and on the Georgia 22 yard line, Michael Henig fumbled and State ended up losing 27-24. Last year, MSU won 24-12 with Georgia having to score a late touchdown to make the score more respectable.
This year’s game brings two teams with identical records (2-2), who came into the season with similar expectations (UGA #19, MSU #20), and of course both have the same nickname (but not the same kind of mascot).
It’s amazing how quickly a coach’s outlook can change. After Week 1, UGA fans were prepared to throw Richt to the wolves and MSU fans were prepared to construct a statue of Mullen. Three weeks later and Richt’s seat has cooled down considerably and State fans were booing at last week’s game.
Georgia’s 3-4 defensive scheme has had some success so far this year as they are currently ranked 13th in the country, which is good for 3rd in the SEC. Despite struggling to keep linebackers healthy, UGA has done well in both rush and especially pass defense led by Bacardi Rambo and Brandon Boykin. Georgia’s defense has held opponents to 25% conversion of 3rd down, MSU was 3 of 16 last week…Relf & Co. need to find themselves in third and short most of the game.
Georgia’s two losses both came against teams with defensive lines that are regarded to be at the top of the country. Stopping Isiah Crowell and their running game like Boise State did will be key, if Aaron Murrey gets to open the offense up State could be in trouble.
Looking up and down the stat sheet, looking up and down the rosters, these teams look very similar. Both have second year starting quarterbacks who were preseason all-SEC (Murray-1st, Relf-3rd). Both have talented running backs and good but not great receivers. Both have had injuries on the offensive line, and have very good talent yet something to prove on D line. Both also lost NFL talent at linebacker and have very talented, veteran secondaries.
UGA should have the edge on special teams, although Blair Walsh missed three field goals last week in Oxford. Brandon Boykin is one of the most dynamic players in the SEC–up there with Chris Rainey. But MSU has some weapons of their own and this should be a very competitive game.