It’s pretty amazing that in the space of a mere week Dan Mullen’s gone from being the second-best coach in the SEC to THE SECOND-BEST COACH IN THE SEC!
All it took was embarrassing Ed Orgeron, whose SEC career record now stands at 18-28.
Of such things legends are born.
By contrast, Kirby Smart’s second season has been a steady grind: a one-point road win against Notre Dame sandwiched between two slices of comfortable wins over cupcakes… oh, yeah, and the Dawgs managed to score more than forty point in a game for the first time in the Smart era. (Thanks, Samford!)
I don’t mean to make light of Georgia’s 3-0 start, which has been accomplished without its original starting quarterback and has also managed to avoid any truly embarrassing efforts like last year’s Nicholls game. The team has progressed.
The end result is that today’s meeting has turned out to be of more import than we anticipated back in August. Tonight we’ll find out whether Kirby’s grind can handle Mullen’s flash.
I’ll have to be honest with you: barring turnover diarrhea, it looks like a tough battle from where I sit. Mullen’s offensive scheme is tough to handle when he’s got the right personnel to deploy, and Nick Fitzgerald is the right personnel for that. Meanwhile, MSU’s Jeffrey Simmons is the kind of disruptive lineman you can build a defense around, which it appears is what Todd Grantham has done. Making things even tougher, Simmons will be prepared to exploit one of Georgia’s obvious weaknesses, the interior of its offensive line.
So while I think Georgia is the more talented team — and while I also think that, unlike LSU, Georgia will be prepared both mentally and emotionally to take on Mississippi State — those two factors are pretty decent levelers.
That’s why this game boils down to the obvious: (1) can Georgia play sixty minutes of assignment football on defense and (2) can the middle of Georgia’s offensive line handle Simmons. It’s going to be a long night if the answer to both of those items is no.
I don’t think it will be, though. Beating LSU by 30 points was the biggest favor Mullen could do for Smart. You can bet the coaches didn’t have to waste any time last week stretching the truth to prepare the team. They’re woke.
Still, Georgia is a young team feeling its way with a freshman quarterback making only his third start. That’s not a recipe for a blowout. Along those lines, if you follow this…
The ‘under’ is 3-0 for UGA with its combined scores averaging 45.3 PPG. Meanwhile, MSU has seen the ‘under’ go 2-1 overall, but the ‘over’ hit in its lone road assignment. Mullen’s team has seen its games average combined scores of 57.0 PPG.
— Georgia owns a 1-5 spread record in six games as a home favorite since Smart took over. On the flip side, Mississippi State has compiled a 9-3 spread record in its last 12 games as a road underdog.
… it adds up to a low-scoring game in which Georgia fails to cover, which sounds about right to me. Playing in Athens winds up being the difference for the home team. I’ll take that.
As usual, this is your invite to use the comments for your game observations. See you on the other side.