Kevin Liles-US PRESSWIRE
Georgia could be in a lot of trouble if this proves to be a letdown game. But is it really enough trouble to take them out of the driver's seat in the SEC East?
Whether or not you believe the talk that Georgia's schedule has overly cushy, there are plenty of reasons to believe at this point that the Dawgs have it made. All they have to do to ensure an SEC East title is defeat Ole Miss and Auburn, the latter of which is struggling to defeat New Mexico State as if this writing. Wins against Georgia Southern and Georgia Tech would round out an 11-1 regular season, the first 11-win season for Georgia since 2007, and give UGA an outside chance at a national title if they can beat the SEC West champion in Atlanta.
But you get the sense that Ole Miss isn't quite ready to concede the point. The Rebels have proven to be a lot better than anyone thought they would be this year; Hugh Freeze has Ole Miss sitting at 5-3 after October and with a better-than-even shot at going to a bowl game. The losses to the best three teams on the schedule show that Mississippi still has a long way to go, but they've made a lot of progress down that road in Freeze's first season.
The basic question is whether Georgia can contain the Ole Miss offense. Because if they can, there are plenty of points to be scored against the defense. The Rebels have been held to fewer than 27 points by only one team, Alabama; the flip side of that is that they've allowed more than 27 points to every team on schedule except three truly dreadful offenses -- UTEP, Tulane and Auburn. And those aren't flukes; the Rebels are ninth in the SEC in average total defense.
And if you concede that Georgia's defense -- which is by no means great even if it's had a couple of nice games -- can take care of Ole Miss, then the only real reason to pick against the Dawgs is the dreaded "letdown" game phenomenon. Which can be a very real concern.
But it's a mighty thin thread to hang a prediction on. It's a reason to think that the game will be far closer than most people seem to think, but not enough to call for a Georgia loss.
Georgia 23, Ole Miss 20