2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 5 - Miss State at Georgia
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Oct. 1 at Georgia 24 … Mississippi State 10
CFN Analysis: It might not be all that pretty, and it might not win any style points, but all of a sudden, Georgia has a good win to prove that things might be starting to change. The run defense was phenomenal against the MSU ground attack with the front line getting into the backfield and forcing mistakes before the attack could get going. Vick Ballard went nowhere, Chris Relf was stuffed, and MSU didn't have any answers. The Georgia passing game might have sputtered with Aaron Murray having a rough game, throwing three picks, but Isaiah Crowell picked up the slack, the D came up with three takeaways, and now it really might be time to get excited going into the nasty stretch of away games against Tennessee, Vanderbilt, and Florida.
Now Dan Mullen has to do some serious coaching to keep the season from slipping away. MSU is 0-3 in the SEC with South Carolina coming up after the layup against UAB, and the running game isn't working, there's no passing game to count on, and the run defense has been shockingly soft. The Bulldogs lived off of turnover margin so far, but the three giveaways against the Dawgs offset the three takeaways and the team couldn't take advantage. MSU was dominated and didn't have any answers for the Georgia defensive front, and now that any hope of a great season is gone, it's time to try to have a good season. It'll start with being more effective on the ground and getting Chris Relf more room to move. 1.6 yards per carry isn't going to get it done for this team in the SEC.
(AP) ATHENS, Ga. -- Aaron Murray threw two touchdown passes in the first quarter, Isaiah Crowell ran for 104 yards and Georgia took advantage of a strong start to beat Mississippi State 24-10 on Saturday.
Georgia (3-2, 2-1 Southeastern Conference) led 21-3 at halftime before surviving a listless second half for its third straight win.
Chris Relf passed for 157 yards and ran for 31 yards but couldn't lead a touchdown drive, leaving Mississippi State (2-3, 0-3) still looking for its first SEC win.
Georgia, already motivated to make up for a loss at Mississippi State last season, played as if it was inspired by an exchange of taunts before the game. The teams had to be separated at midfield at the end of pregame warmups.
Georgia took a 14-3 lead in the first quarter and led 21-3 at halftime.
Murray had an uneven performance. He completed 13 of 25 passes for 160 yards with two touchdowns but had three interceptions to match his total for the first four games.
Crowell, the freshman tailback, did not score but topped 100 yards for the third time in three SEC games. One week after setting career highs with 30 carries for 147 yards in Georgia's 27-13 win at Mississippi, Crowell again was the most consistent offensive threat for Georgia.
Mississippi State was held to a 42-yard field goal by Derek Depasquale before finally reaching the end zone when Darius Slay returned an interception 72 yards for a touchdown midway through the fourth quarter.
Relf completed 19 of 31 passes for 157 yards and two interceptions. Vick Ballard was held to 23 yards rushing on eight carries.
Big plays on special teams set up Georgia's first two touchdowns.
Brandon Boykin's 30-yard punt return set up Georgia's first possession at the Mississippi State 33. Three plays later, Murray found Orson Charles for a 21-yard touchdown pass.
A shanked 11-yard punt by Baker Swedenberg gave Georgia the ball at Mississippi State's 22 later in the opening quarter. Murray's 6-yard pass to Malcolm Mitchell gave Georgia a 14-3 lead.
Murray's second interception, by linebacker Cameron Lawrence, gave Mississippi State the ball at the Georgia 28 with 3:34 remaining in the half. Georgia's defense answered when Relf's pass bounced off receiver Chris Smith's hands and was intercepted by cornerback Sanders Commings.
Georgia took the ball at its 19 and, with Crowell doing most of the work, moved 81 yards on eight plays. The drive ended with Carlton Thomas' 7-yard scoring run.
Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen alternated quarterbacks in the third quarter. Dylan Favre, the nephew of former longtime NFL quarterback Brett Favre, took over for Relf for the first series of the second half before Relf returned the following possession. The two then shared Mississippi's third possession.
Favre threw two passes, both incomplete.
Arceto Clark dropped a pass from Relf when hit by Brandon Boykin late in the third quarter. Commings recovered the fumble, setting up Blair Walsh's 18-yard field goal.
Tensions rose at the end of pregame warmups when Mississippi State's players gathered on the big painted "G" which stretches almost 20 yards at midfield.
Georgia players, who apparently felt offended the visitors took their normal gathering spot, crowded around the Mississippi State players. Coaches and officials quickly rushed to separate the players, but not before players on both sides pointed and taunted. An official was knocked down as he tried to escort the Mississippi State players off the field.
Georgia coach Mark Richt was seen having an animated discussion with the officials before he joined his players in the locker room.
At the end of the game, Georgia players quickly rushed to midfield, briefly bouncing up and down on the logo before exchanging handshakes with the Mississippi State players.
Georgia backup running back Ken Malcome, who told Richt on Wednesday he planned to transfer but was accepted back on the team on Thursday, did not play.
Mississippi State (2-2) at Georgia (2-2) Oct. 1, 12:00, ESPN3
Here's The Deal … Georgia put itself into a Condition Critical mode with two losses to start the season, including a shootout defeat to South Carolina at home, and now Mississippi State is on the verge of being all but irrelevant if it can't come up with its second win over the Dawgs since 1974.
As 0-2 in the conference with losses to Auburn and LSU, Mississippi State's SEC title hopes are gone, and with South Carolina, Alabama, and Arkansas still to deal with, there's a risk that a season that kicked off with so much promise and potential could be just another typical year for a program that's used to not making a whole bunch of noise. The running game has been fine and the defense has had its moments, but the consistency hasn't been there and big plays in key moments have been few and far between. Coming off an overtime win over Louisiana Tech, it's time to turn the season around. Fast.
Georgia got a break from the Mark Richt hot seat discussion with easy wins over Coastal Carolina and Ole Miss, but there isn't a break until October with three straight games away from home – Tennessee, Vanderbilt, and Florida – before getting a scrimmage against New Mexico State. Beating MSU might show that things are on the right track – for now. Every week the Dawgs will be under more pressure and more of a microscope than normal, and for the Richt era, there's no margin for error.
Why Mississippi State Might Win: The Georgia offensive line continues to be a work in progress. It's getting a bit better for the ground game, and left tackle Cordy Glenn is getting plenty of attention as the possible first offensive lineman taken in the 2012 NFL Draft, but the pass protection has been spotty. Ole Miss has been average so far at getting into the backfield, and it didn't have much of a problem last week. Boise State blew up the Georgia front five, and South Carolina came up with a slew of big plays at the right moments to pull off the win in Athens. MSU's defensive front hasn't been a rock against the run so far, and it got shoved around by LSU, but Georgia isn't LSU.
MSU is having a little problem with interceptions, throwing for in the last four games, but the only lost fumble came in the opener against Memphis, and so far, the mistakes haven't been killers. On the road, the Bulldogs won't beat themselves and they won't give Georgia too many breaks, if any.
Why Georgia Might Win: The Georgia defense is playing better than it might appear.
Kellen Moore is Kellen Moore, and while no one outside of the greater Boise metropolitan area wants to believe it, he and the Bronco passing could pick apart anyone like they torched Georgia in the opener. Marcus Lattimore ran wild in South Carolina's win, but three of the Gamecock touchdowns didn't come from the offense. Playing Coastal Carolina and Ole Miss helps make things look better, but the Dawg front four is settling in and playing stronger against the run, and the secondary rebounded from the Boise State game to be terrific over the last three weeks.
Mississippi State's passing game has been fine at times, but it's inefficient and it's not going to light up the Georgia secondary. If the Bulldogs – the Starkville version – don't run for at least 200 yards, they can't win. Georgia gave up 253 yards to South Carolina, mostly thanks to Mr. Lattimore, and now it needs to find a way to shut down …
What To Watch Out For: Vick Ballard, the MSU running back who's starting to get more and more respect from the NFL scouts. He was kept in check in last year's win over the Dawgs, running for 64 yards and a score on 13 carries, and then he exploded from then on with four 100-yard games in the final eight he played in while finishing with 19 touchdowns. This year, he started off hot with 166 yards and three scores against Memphis and 135 yards and a touchdown against Auburn before getting stuffed by LSU for just 38 yards and held to 68 yards and a score by Louisiana Tech. MSU has other rushing options, but Ballard is the one the ground attack needs to work around.
6-0, 218-pound junior Bacarri Rambo didn't get any All-SEC recognition last year, but he deserved a spotlight after finishing second on the team with 82 tackles with three picks and five tackles for loss. The veteran free safety has great range with the versatility to play either safety spot, and this year he's playing well enough to demand All-America honors if he keeps up his current pace. After coming up with two picks against Ole Miss, he leads the nation with four interceptions in the three games, to go along with 14 tackles, after missing the opener against Boise State. He's a top playmaker who's always around the ball, and he's dangerous with the ball in his hands.
What Will Happen: Georgia will get more offensive balance and a strong game from the defensive front against Ballard and QB Chris Relf to come away with a tough, tough win. The two teams will beat each other up, and while MSU will win the battle of running games, Georgia will win the fight of the passing games and special teams. That'll be enough to slip by with the win.
CFN Prediction: Georgia 26 … Mississippi State 20
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Georgia -7 O/U: 53
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