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Georgia vs. Mississippi Preview + Free Predictions

Georgia Bulldogs (1-2) at Mississippi Rebels (1-2)

With all the re-booted hysteria about conference shuffling and re-alignment this past week, it will be nice to get back to playing some actual football this Saturday. One of our midday games this week features two SEC programs having some headaches lately. 

Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, Oxford MS
Saturday, Sept. 24, 12:20 pm EST
NCAA Odds from WagerWeb.com:
MoneyLine: Georgia -360, Ole Miss +300
Spread: Georgia -9.5, Ole Miss +9.5
Over/Under: 54.5

Ole Miss has looked pathetic, losing handily to an untalented Vanderbilt team last week (30-7) and not looking like it has any prospects for a strong season.

At a prestigious program like Georgia, the only reason Dawgs fans aren’t dancing around a ritualistic campfire reminiscent of a tribal council right now – calling for head coach Mark Richt’s head – is a 59-0 pasting they dealt Coastal Carolina last week. It doesn’t change the fact Georgia is 1-2 and winless in conference play.

This week the Bulldogs get another opportunity to hone their game and build some confidence by beating a vulnerable Rebels home side. Georgia lost a heartbreaker to South Carolina and also played the daunting Boise State Broncos; the Dawgs are a good team that has had some tough luck and tough scheduling. They should come into Oxford and push around the Rebels, who truly haven’t looked good at all. UGA pivot Aaron Murray is an excellent QB and has a couple fantastic freshman weapons on offense in RB Isaiah Crowell and WR Malcolm Mitchell. The defense needs to get better at creating pressure, but with an Ole Miss front line that currently looks haphazard, the opportunity is there to improve.

An Ole Miss home game is a lesson in pageantry and for the actual game to even remotely resemble the pre-game festivities, Ole Miss must show some resolve. The Rebels defense has been just average – and that’s the only positive thing you can say about this team in 2011. Head coach Houston Nutt’s seat is just as warm (if not more so) than Richt’s, and the Ole Miss faithful must be getting impatient. Last week versus the lowly Commodores, Rebels QB Zack Stoudt was intercepted five times and the previously-decent Rebs “D” surrendered 30 points. A performance even a fraction as bad as that will have Ole Miss getting embarrassed by Georgia this week. [soliloquy id=”82219″]

One shred of optimism for Ole Miss in Week 4 is the return of senior RB and offensive linchpin Brandon Bolden, though starting WR Melvin Harris is still out with a back injury. Bolden should pair with pint-sized sophomore Jeff Scott to at least give the Rebels a solid running game – provided the O-line can open some holes. Neither Stoudt nor platoon guy Randall Mackey have looked particularly good under center, so an efficacy on the ground is a must for any Rebels success.

If Georgia throws some meat up in the defensive front seven to thwart the run and can cause headaches for Ole Miss’s reeling offensive line, it should be capable of controlling how often the Rebels get on the board. On the flip side, Ole Miss’s defense has looked OK, but not good enough to slow down Murray right now. He is a great pocket passer and the young skill position guys around him really seem to be coming into their own.

It should be a good atmosphere in Oxford for the University of Mississippi’s first home conference game of the year, but I imagine that the home fans have a nagging, sinking feeling their team is going to be thoroughly dealt with in this contest. Everything is pointing to Ole Miss fans being right in trusting their gut instinct.

Score Prediction: Georgia 41, Ole Miss 17
Over/Under Prediction: 58

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