The Georgia Bulldogs travel to Starkville, Mississippi this weekend to take on the Mississippi State Bulldogs. While some people have already written off any chance of an upset, this game could be trickier than one might think. Mike Leach’s team in 2020 gave Georgia all they could handle in a game most people remember as JT Daniels’s debut. While I certainly see Georgia utilizing their championship culture to win this football game, it’s important that the Dawgs leave no doubt, as a win this weekend secures Georgia a trip back to Atlanta for the SEC Championship game.
Will Rogers is silently one of the best quarterbacks in the SEC. He has eclipsed almost 3,000 yards this season and has completed nearly 70% of his passes. Rogers has 26 touchdowns to just 5 interceptions. While his stats are fantastic, the best part about his game is his decision-making. Mike Leach runs an air raid system, giving the Mississippi State quarterback plenty of opportunities to take deep shots and create explosive plays. Rogers’s first career start actually came against Georgia in 2020 where he completed 41 of 52 passes for 336 yards and a touchdown. However, in that game, Rogers consistently took the 5 to 6-yard check-down options that enabled Mississippi State to drive the ball on Georgia and take the game into the fourth quarter. Rogers has played plenty more games for the Mississippi State Bulldogs since that battle in 2020, and his decision-making has only improved.
To stop MSU, there are a few key areas Georgia will need to focus on. The first area of importance is to establish a pass rush. Georgia is coming off their best game of the season in which they sacked Hendon Hooker six times. Rogers is not mobile, and Georgia will need to affect him to get their potent offense off the field. The second point of emphasis is to create explosive plays early. Against South Carolina, Georgia took a rowdy crowd out of the game within the first few drives of the first quarter. Starkville will be loud and the cowbells will be ringing. The sooner UGA can silence those fans, the easier their night will be. Lastly, Georgia needs to take care of the football. Against Missouri, turnovers made the game much closer than it should have been. When you turn the ball over in the SEC, it is hard to win football games. Stetson Bennett and company need to take care of the football and create sustainable possessions, allowing the defense as much rest as they need on what will be a frigid night in Mississippi.
At the end of the day, this is a business trip. The Georgia Bulldogs have everything sitting in front of them which they are well aware of. They are coming off the biggest win in Sanford Stadium history, but that is in the past. Expect Coach Smart to have the troops fired up this weekend for a Bulldog-on-Bulldog clash in Starkvegas.