Posted on September 18, 2017, by Travis Pulver
Mississippi State was expected to be a better team this season. But when they clobbered the mighty LSU Tigers 37-7 last weekend, they raised some eyebrows. These Bulldogs aren’t just better—they’re darn good (and now the No. 17 team in the nation)! The same can be said for the No. 11 Georgia Bulldogs. With a pair of future NFL running backs powering the rushing attack and a talented second-year starter at quarterback, Georgia fans came into the season with high expectations.
But then Jacob Eason went down with an injury and in came freshman Jake Fromm. As luck would have it, he’s not half bad.
Both teams have good quarterbacks and strong running games. Both have strong defenses that are going to be tough to move the ball on all season. When these two SEC foes meet in Athens Saturday night, someone is going to have to give!
Mississippi State has a good young quarterback in Nick Fitzgerald who can provide a threat in the running game as well as the passing game. Last season he powered the run game with 1375 yards on the season. He’s still dangerous in the run game (240 yards, five touchdowns), but this season he has shown he can be a much better passer.
He was just a 54 percent passer last season but has improved his accuracy through three games this season (61.4 percent). After throwing ten interceptions last season, he only has one this season to go with seven touchdowns.
While the Georgia defense will certainly do whatever they can to limit Fitzgerald, they will have their hands full with Aeris Williams as well. The junior running back complimented Fitzgerald in the run game last season, but this year he is pacing the Mississippi State run game (336 yards, seven yards/carry).
Neither Fitzgerald or Williams will find it very easy to run on Georgia. So far, this year, they have only allowed 71 yards a game on the ground (No. 5 in the nation). They haven’t been easy to pass on either (195 yards/game; No. 45) and have only allowed an average of 14.3 points a game (No. 21)
It’s not going to be easy to move the ball against them. But then again, they haven’t exactly played any tough teams except for Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish currently have the No. 5 rushing game in the country (330 yards/game). They held them to just 53 yards on the ground.
Georgia’s defense will slow down Mississippi State’s offense a little. But for Georgia to win the game, their offense is going to have play mistake-free football (no turnovers) and run the ball well. They do have two of the best running backs in the country in Nick Chubb and Sony Michel.
But they are not going to have an easy time running against Mississippi State. So far, this season, the Mississippi State defense is giving up just 101 yards a game on the ground (No. 27). Chubb and Michel shouldn’t count on the passing game to loosen up the defense. Mississippi State has one of the best pass defenses in the nation so far (105 yards/game; No. 6).
Mississippi State held Derrius Guice to just 76 yards on 15 carries. Can Georgia’s running backs do better?
They will have to if Georgia is going to have a chance to win. Mississippi State has the better offense between the two. Georgia can’t count on their defense to handle the Mississippi State offense. They need to run the ball well—and score – so that Fitzgerald and Williams rarely see the field.
But don’t expect it to happen.
Georgia’s offense is good, but Mississippi State’s defense is better. At the same time, Georgia’s defense is good, but the Mississippi State offense is better. It will be an entertaining game, but Georgia fans should expect to go home unhappy.
Oddsmakers have made Georgia a 6.5 point favorite so take the Bulldogs – from Mississippi State – and the points.