The Bulldogs of Mississippi State and Georgia were two of the eight SEC teams that unexpectedly got last Saturday afternoon off, as their respective games against Auburn and Missouri were canceled by that pesky COVID-19 pandemic. Mississippi State was already close to not being able to have the required 53 players available to play last Saturday as it was. Now, the Maroon Bulldogs enter this game with a 2-4 record and an offense that has sputtered horribly.
As for the other Bulldogs, barring a Shawshank Redemption-like miracle, they are most likely looking at having their three-year SEC East title streak come to an end after that shocking blowout loss to Florida two weeks ago. So you have to wonder where their motivations are now as they enter the final three (or possibly four) games on their revamped schedule. We'll get our answer starting this Saturday when the boys from StarkVegas come to town.
Mississippi State at No. 13 Georgia
Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 21 at 7:30 p.m. ET
TV: SEC Network
Spread: Georgia -25
When Mississippi State Has the Ball
Okay, Will Rogers, this is where it gets REAL. The freshman quarterback got his first start against Vanderbilt. But that start had some mixed reviews, as he averaged just 4.9 yards per attempt. Now he has to put on his big boy pants and raise his level of play because this Bulldog defense has still shown flashes of its immense talent. Though it has had its hard times, Georgia still has the best scoring defense in the conference, giving up 20.8 points per game.
The MSU O-line vs. the UGa D-line. This will be a real test for that shaky blocking front that MSU puts out on the field. As a unit, they have surrendered 3.17 sacks per game and will be facing a Junkyard Dog defense that is second in the SEC with 18 sacks on the season. That's not good math for the Maroons. That offensive front is going to have to play the game of its lives here to give MSU a chance, and they have yet to show they can put it all together for four quarters.
Who is missing? Though stout, the Junkyard Dogs will be facing this Mississippi State offense with weakened ranks. All-SEC-caliber DB Richard LeCounte and D-lineman Jordan Davis will both be out for this week. Keep in mind this is a unit that is still smarting from giving up 474 yards and 44 points last time out, so their psyche is already a little tender.
When Georgia Has the Ball
Who should be the quarterback? Justin Fields, where hast thou gone? Against Florida, starting quarterback Stetson Bennett was very average and got pulled after the first drive of the third quarter. Then, D'Wan Mathis took over and, well… looked very average too. The two QBs combined to go a Buck Belue-like 9-of-29 for 112 yards with three interceptions. By the way, what's the deal with former USC freshman All American JT Daniels right now? This offense has become weaker than Betty White and he still hasn't seen the field.
Don't give up on Zamir. Stud running back Zamir White had a 75-yard touchdown run on the first play of the game against Florida and then got two other carries in the first half as the Gators built a commanding 38-21 lead. Georgia ended up possessing the ball for just 22:34 of that game. The lesson here: don't panic with your offensive game plan. Zamir is averaging 5.3 yards per carry against SEC competition, meaning he's a useful freakin' weapon. So go ahead and use Zamir and run, run, run... well, at least tell your offensive line to block, block, block.
How will those defensive 'Dogs do? On the other side of the ball, the MSU defense is not terrible. In fact, they are currently sitting third in the SEC, giving up just 359.8 yards per game with 14 sacks on the season. It will be their job to tuck their tails and attack whoever Georgia puts in the pocket on passing plays. Their competence gives MSU a fighting chance in this one. If only the Maroons had an offense that was capable.
I'm being about as kind as I can about Mississippi State's chances here. The truth of the matter is this was a team that managed just 204 offensive yards against Vanderbilt. Honestly, if the Commodores hadn't committed so many turnovers, the boys from StarkVegas would've lost that game too.
Georgia comes in angry and looking to make a statement. That defense will look to make amends here.
Prediction: Georgia 35, Mississippi State 9
Podcast: Week 12 Preview and Predictions
— Written by Eric Sorenson, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He is a college football, college baseball and college hockey addict... and writer. Follow him on Twitter @Stitch_Head.