It’s worth noting that the Rebel Black Bears aren’t dreadful, and I mean that as a sincere compliment. Everybody – and I mean everybody – expected Mississippi to be the SEC’s worst team this season. I think I posted something in the preseason about the RBBs needing to get a win or two in September because it was hard to see when they’d get one afterwards, and yet here they are with two conference wins under their belts and a legitimate shot at making a bowl game. That ain’t bad.
However, a little perspective is in order here. Ole Miss hasn’t beaten a team with a winning record, although it had a chance to do so with Texas A&M. It’s been pesky more than threatening against better opponents (check out the defensive split stats against teams with winning and losing records). Although you have to admire any approach that gets under Saban’s skin the way Freeze’s offense did.
If there’s a danger for Georgia this Saturday, I don’t think it’s so much about coming out flat – although Seth Emerson’s column about emotion is worth a read, I think the crowd and the national broadcast will help combat that – as it is about maintaining patience on both sides of the ball. Ole Miss is going to get some yardage and some points, most likely, but it’s important for Georgia’s defenders to play good assignment football and to be as opportunistic as they were against Florida. As David Ching notes about quarterback Bo Wallace,
Wallace is fifth in the SEC in total offense at 239 yards per game, but he has also made his share of mistakes in his first season as the Rebels’ starting quarterback — as evidenced by his 10-9 touchdown-interception ratio. The Bulldogs need to rein him in as a runner like they did against Florida’s Jeff Driskel and pressure him into errors that will make a victory easier to achieve.
Defensively, Ole Miss, which has some talent, but is both young and a little on the smallish side, seems tailor-made for what Mike Bobo likes to call: pound ’em hard with Gurley, Marshall and the running game and use that to set up play action. The good thing here is that Bobo showed in the Florida game that he knows he’s got a good enough horse to ride with his freshmen running backs to stay with them.
If you want to talk about the psychology of the game, I think Ching gets this right:
Ole Miss is a program that is only learning how to win under a new coaching staff. The Bulldogs need to break their will early in this game. Alabama jumped out to a 27-6 halftime lead and was able to cruise to a win, but Texas A&M fell behind in Oxford and had to battle back in the fourth quarter to win. The Rebels are capable of winning this game if Georgia doesn’t come to play.