Mississippi State Football: Friends with enemy vs. Georgia

Georgia coach Kirby Smart reacts during the first half of a NCAA college football game between Auburn and Georgia in Athens, Ga., on Saturday, Sept. 8, 2022.News Joshua L Jones
Georgia coach Kirby Smart reacts during the first half of a NCAA college football game between Auburn and Georgia in Athens, Ga., on Saturday, Sept. 8, 2022.News Joshua L Jones /

To learn more about Mississippi State football’s matchup against the Georgia Bulldogs, I caught up with Savannah Leigh, site expert for Dawn of the Dawg.

Give us your interpretation of the name Dawn of the Dawg.

I think Dawn of the Dawg comes from the rise of Georgia football since 2001. When former head coach Mark Richt took over, it was a new chapter after a very dark 90s run for the football program. Richt elevated Georgia, but now that head coach Kirby Smart is in charge, he has elevated the program even more. It feels like the dawn of a new era is upon us, and it happens to be the era of the Dawg — It seems a bit cheesy, but it’s true.

Battle of the Bulldogs on Saturday… We obviously think Bully is cuter, but give us your reasons why you think UGA is cuter.

Look, you see, Uga and Bully are both cute because all bulldogs are precious good boys and girls. I dislike when people are like well, our mascot is more adorable than yours. We are all entitled to our opinion, but both Bulldogs are very precious, and most of all, they are both very good boys.

Who is Georgia’s most valuable offensive player?

Most Georgia fans would likely say Brock Bowers here, and while he is very important, I think that Stetson Bennett. He makes those solid throws to Bowers, and when Bennett is playing well, that offense is pretty unstoppable. The 9th-year senior (a joke) knows this offense like the back of his hand, and the coaches trust him with it. Georgia has other weapons, but Bennett is the leader the Dawgs need to succeed.

Who is Georgia’s most valuable defensive player?

Oh wow, this one feels tougher than it should, but Jalen Carter is probably the most logical answer here. He is the leader on defense, and when he is in the game, most opponents have a hard time achieving anything. Carter is so disruptive and a game-changer. However, that entire defense is full of valuable players. After losing eight guys to the league last year, they’ve had to come together, and as weird as it sounds, it’s a no-name defense because there has been so much rotating and sharing the wealth.

Georgia is coming off its biggest win of the season. Is there a chance of a letdown this week?

Oh, for sure, with any team, the next week could be hard for them to refocus after an emotional win. However, elite teams find ways to win, and the celebrating stopped on Sunday for Tennessee. Georgia is a program that knows how to refocus, and this game against State is a must-win situation for the Dawgs. It’s how they wrap up the SEC East with a win, so I expect there to be plenty of focus from them, but at the same time, who knows? We’ve all seen Georgia come out flat against teams like Kent State and Missouri, so I won’t ever say there isn’t a chance because there is. Georgia has to define itself this week against State, or people will doubt the Dawgs again.

What are your thoughts on Stetson Bennett’s performance thus far?

Stetson Bennett should be in the Heisman Trophy discussion, but he isn’t because of a few terrible decisions and only having 11 touchdowns on the season. However, that stat line isn’t the only thing that matters — he gets his offense in the red zone, and 50-51 times, they put up points.
Bennett is a veteran and a great college quarterback who keeps proving himself. Sometimes he tries to do too much, but when he plays his game — he is just as elite as the quarterbacks that get so much Heisman love. People doubt Bennett, but after nine games, he is the starter and plenty talented enough to lead the Dawgs.

Who do you expect to have a big game on Saturday that Mississippi State may not be ready for/heard of?

Arian Smith. He had a big 52-yard catch last week against the Vols, but he has been battling back from injury most of the year. Smith is a guy that is lightning fast but also has excellent hands. Look for him to be Georgia’s deep threat until AD Mitchell returns. Smith could have a breakout moment against State because the Dawgs need a receiver threat downhill, and he is the best option right now.

Score prediction and analysis of what happens on Saturday night between the Bulldogs and Bulldogs?

I think Mississippi State’s air-raid offense will give the Georgia secondary a great challenge, but the Dawgs end up pulling away by the fourth quarter. Georgia has a dynamic offense and defense that can cause problems for Mississippi State, but I still think it’ll be a fun ballgame, especially since it’s in Starkville. The Bulldogs will get some shots, but Georgia will find a way to slow it down and wreak some havoc. I expect Georgia to come out and send a message, and while I have no ill will toward Mississippi State, they just happen to be the next target on the schedule.

I’d say 45-20 — Georgia leaves Starkville 10-0 with another SEC East title in the books.