Mississippi St Bulldogs at Georgia Bulldogs
Sanford Stadium – Athens, Georgia
Saturday, October 1, 2011, 12:00 pm Eastern, TV: Fox Sports South, ESPN Game Plan
Opening Line: Georgia – 7 1/2
Current Line: Georgia -7
Opening Total: 53 1/2
Current Total: 53
Opening Money Line:Georgia -285 / Mississippi St -245
Current Money Line: Georgia -275 / Mississippi +235
One thing is certain in the this SEC battle, the Bulldogs will win. Whether it is the Mississippi St bulldogs or the Georgia Bulldogs remains to be seen. Both teams are 2-2 this season, and have already played 2 conference games. Mississippi St, coached by Dan Mullen, has wins at Memphis 59-14 and last week in overtime 26-20 against Louisiana Tech. They have two conference losses at Auburn 41-34 and at home to #1 LSU 19-6. Georgia, coached by Mark Richt, opened the season with losses to Boise St 35-21 and South Carolina 45-42. Both teams are current ranked in the top 10. Georgia has rebounded with wins over Coastal Carolina 59-0 and last week at Ole Miss 27-13. Despite the fact that they have been conference rivals since 1932, this is only the 23rd meeting between the two schools. Georgia leads the overall series 16-6, including 9-2 in Athens. Mississippi St won last year in Starkville 24-12, but Georgia had won 9 straight in the series before that.
After two emotional losses to conference foes Auburn and LSU, games that Mississippi St had a chance to win, the Bulldogs suffered an emotional let down against a Lousiana Tech team that MSU was favored by 19.5 points to beat. Mississippi St escaped with a 26-20 overtime victory against Louisiana Tech. MSU was never up by more than a touchdown in the contest. Louisiana Tech actually had more total yards than Mississippi St 359-340. Louisiana Tech did turn the ball over 3 times in the loss. Mississippi St had an 82 yard yard punt return in the first quarter from Chad Bumphis.
Mississippi St is averaging 427.2 yards and 31.2 points a game. The Bulldogs average 217.5 rushing yards a game. The Bulldogs have allowed 7 sacks and have 7 turnovers. MSU is 28/68 on third and fourth down conversions, and 13/15 scoring in the red zone but they have only 6 touchdowns. On defense, MSU is allowing 359.8 yards and 23.5 points a game. Teams are rushing for 163.5 yards a game against the Bulldogs. MSU has forced 8 turnovers and 8 sacks this season. Bulldog opponents are 27/69 on third and fourth down conversions, and 10/12 scoring in the red zone with 6 touchdowns.
MSU quarterback Chris Relf is 58/100 passing for 657 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions, along with 65 carries for 187 yards. Tyler Russell has also taken some snaps this year, going 9/17 passing for 183 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Running back Vick Ballard has 58 carries for 407 yards, and 5 touchdowns, along with 8 catches for 96 yards. LaDarius Perkins has 30 carries, for 137 yards, and a touchdown along with 8 catches for 25 yards and a touchdown. Ten Bulldog receivers have at least 4 catches and no one has more than 8. Jameon Lewis has 6 catches, 132 yards, and a touchdown along with 5 carries, 61 yards, and a touchdown. Arcelo Clark has 5 catches, 107 yards, and a touchdown. Bumphis has 7 catches, 99 yards, and a touchdown, along with 4 carries for 39 yards. Kicker Derek DePasquale is 11/11 on extra points and 7/8 on field goals with a long of 42 yards. Brian Egan is 3/3 on extra points.
Georgia was dominant on defense against Mississippi last allowing only 183 total yards and 8 first downs in the 27-13 win. Mississippi returned a punt 81 yards for a touchdown just before halftime to make the score 24-13, and a Georgia field goal was the only scoring in the second half for either team. Georgia had 475 total yards including 207 rushing yards in the win for the Bulldogs to even up their conference record at 1-1.
Georgia is averaging 438.5 yards and 37.2 points a game. The Bulldogs have a balanced attack averaging 257 passing yards and 181.5 rushing yards a game. Georgia has 6 turnovers and has allowed 11 sacks this season. Georgia is 28/69 on third and fourth down conversions, and 12/15 scoring in the red zone with 10 touchdowns. Georgia is allowing 270 yards and 23.2 points a game. The Bulldogs have a top ten pass defense allowing just over 150 yards a game. Georgia opponents are 16/60 on third and fourth down conversions, and 7/8 scoring in the red zone with 7 touchdowns.
Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray is 70/110 passing with 940 yards, 11 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions this season. Running back Isaiah Crowell has 77 carries, 411 yards, and 2 touchdowns, along with 3 catches, 52 yards and a touchdown catch. Back-up Carlton Thomas has been suspended for this game. Thomas has 20 carries 108 yards, and a touchdown. Look for Richard Samuel to get more carries without Thomas playing. Receivers Malcolm Mitchell (hamstring) and Marlon Brown (knee) are both listed as probable against Mississippi St, but Rantavious Wooten is doubtful with a concussion. Brown and Wooten see very little action, but Mitchell is the leading receiver for the Bulldogs with 17 catches for 252 yards, and 2 touchdowns, along with 2 carries fro 19 yards. Orson Charles has 13 catches, 210 yards, and 3 touchdowns. Tavarres King has 10 catches, 117 yards, and 3 scores. Kicker Blair Walsh is 18/18 on extra points and 5/10 on field goals with a long of 56 yards. Besides the injuries to the backs and receivers, the Bulldogs also have three players on the offensive line that are listed as questionable or out.
Georgia is 2-2 against the spread and 3 of the 4 games have gone over the total. Mississippi St is 1-3 ATS and the total is 2-2 in their games so far this season. MSU is 6-2 ATS in their last 8 October games, 1-4 in their 5 conference games, 1-5 in their last 6 as an underdog and on grass. Georgia is 6-2 ATS in their last as a favorite, 8-17-1 in their last 26 conference games, 2-5 in their last 7 overall, and 1-4 in the last 5 home games.
I think these two teams are better than their record would indicate, but both have played a couple of tough games so far. Both are desperate for a conference win, especially Mississippi St. The two have losses to LSU, Auburn, Boise St, and South Carolina. Three of those teams are ranked in the top 10 in the country, and Auburn is the defending national champion who was ranked in the top 25 before a loss at Clemson. I think Mississippi St has a chance to pull off the upset on the road, and I like them to at least cover the 7 point spread.
Our college football handicappers are on fire as September turns into October. We look forward to another month of winners.