As Georgia prepares to take on the Ole Miss Rebels this upcoming weekend, there are numerous noticeable factors that will determine the outcome of the contest. With championship implications on the line for both programs, it is undeniable that Saturday’s matchup will feel like a war. Listed below are the key factors that need to occur to clinch the SEC East division title and outlast a formidable Ole Miss team.
1. Stop the run.
While many perceive Ole Miss as a team centered around flashy, explosive passing plays, they are realistically a team dominant at running the football. Quinshon Judkins, the most talented rusher in the SEC, leads the Rebels’ ground game. So far this season, he has compiled nearly 800 yards rushing and twelve touchdowns on the ground. These impressive numbers would likely be even higher if it weren’t for an early-season injury that limited Judkins’ reps.
While Judkins highlights the Rebels’ rushing attack, quarterback Jaxson Dart and backup running back Ulysses Bentley are also critical components of Ole Miss’s success in running the football. Dart has accumulated over 340 yards on the ground and has found the end zone seven times this season using his feet. Bentley has a respectable 388 yards rushing along with three touchdowns. Ole Miss runs the football exceptionally well, and with rain expected to fall during the game, the Bulldogs should expect a heavy dosage of run plays. Limiting the Rebels’ ability to stay ahead of the sticks is a must if Georgia expects to halt an exceptional Ole Miss offense.
2. Continue to win on third down.
Georgia has been immensely successful at winning third downs on both the offensive and defensive sides of the football. Georgia currently ranks fourth in the country in offensive third-down conversion rate and third in the country on defensive third downs. Ole Miss’s offense has struggled on third down this year, ranking 97th nationally in third-down conversions. Getting the Rebel offense off the field early will change the game for the Bulldogs.
3. Limit the explosive plays.
Ole Miss ranks in the top five of college football in explosive play rate, having already accounted for 65 plays of 20+ yards. Lane Kiffin loves to utilize his run game to open up the defense and take shots downfield. Against A&M last week, Tre Harris abused man coverage and hauled in over 200 yards receiving. Dart is an extremely accurate deep ball thrower; therefore, the Bulldogs must win their one-on-one battles on the outside.
The Rebels have vulnerabilities that Georgia can exploit, but their offensive firepower and explosive play capabilities make them a matchup unlike anything Georgia has seen thus far. I expect the Bulldawg faithful to be out in abundance. Through rain or shine, we are in for a good one.