When: Saturday, September 24, 2016
Where: Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, Oxford, Miss.
Time: Noon, ET
How to watch online: WatchESPN
Odds: The Rebels are currently seven-point favorites, via Odds Shark.
The No. 12-ranked Georgia Bulldogs (3-0. 1-0) travel to Ole Miss (1-2, 0-1) on Saturday to face the 23rd-ranked Rebels. These two teams enter the weekend coming off emotional conference games the week before.
The ‘Dawgs struggled for much of the day until freshman quarterback Jacob Eason led a game-winning drive to help UGA survive the upset-minded Missouri Tigers in Columbia. Eason completed 29 of his 55 passes for 308 yards and three touchdowns in the win. While he wasn’t perfect on the day, Eason showed Georgia fans why he is a future superstar.
Meanwhile, the Rebels had No. 1 Alabama on the ropes and blew a 24-3 first-half lead before falling 48-43 to the defending national champions. It’s the second time this year the Rebels have blown a big lead against a top-five team after losing the season opener to Florida State.
Suffice it to say, Ole Miss needs a win in the worst way this week.
Georgia, once again, looked sluggish at Mizzou. Nick Chubb was mostly held in check for the second straight week as he rushed for just 63 yards on 19 carries. The week before against FCS Nicholls, Chubb rushed for 80 yards on 20 attempts. The ‘Dawgs must find a way to get Chubb going. Ole Miss is ranked No. 115 in run defense, so this may be a good week for Chubb and UGA’s rushing attack.
The Rebels are led by senior quarterback Chad Kelly. Kelly has completed 63 percent of his passes for 953 yards and 10 touchdowns through three games so far in 2016. Ole Miss has a plethora of talented weapons on offense, specifically tight end Evan Engram. Seven different Rebels have caught a touchdown pass this season.
Georgia RB Nick Chubb: Ole Miss is terrific on offense and gets out to a fast start each week. The Bulldogs can ill-afford to let the Rebels to get out to a fast start on Saturday. Chubb is the key for Georgia. He needs plenty of touches to get into a rhythm on offense; however, volume hasn’t been an issue for Chubb thus far in 2016. He has 72 touches through three weeks.
A lot of Chubb’s issues in 2016 haven’t been due to ability or not being fully recovered from knee surgery. Georgia’s run blocking has been a major issue through three weeks. They’ve failed to get enough push up front and it’s resulted in subpar numbers for UGA’s running game. Opposing teams have also loaded up the box against Georgia, in part due to Eason’s inexperience and Greyson Lambert’s inability to push the ball downfield.
Georgia LB Lorenzo Carter: The much ballyhooed linebacker is still looking for his first sack of 2016. That’s not to say Carter hasn’t made an impact this season. He has nine tackles on the season and his defensive touchdown against Nicholls two weeks back helped seal the victory.
But this defense needs Carter to get to the quarterback with more frequency. He has four quarterback hits through three weeks, but the Bulldogs need him to get to Chad Kelly and bring him down. Pressuring Kelly would go a long way in helping UGA steal one on the road in Oxford.
Ole Miss QB Chad Kelly: As much as Georgia would like to avoid a fast start, Ole Miss would love to jump out to a big lead. UGA may not be as well-equipped to come back from a large deficit quite the way FSU and Alabama could. Kelly is the key to a fast start for the home team.
The senior passer is having a strong season and the Rebels will need another big game from him to defeat Georgia. If Kelly can avoid negative plays, the Rebels will get things turned around.
So, what happens?
This game is almost a toss-up. Ole Miss has lost two games, but against stellar competition. Georgia, meanwhile, has struggled against lesser foes. In UGA’s home-opener two weeks ago, it barely survived against the Nicholls Colonels.
The Bulldogs and head coach Kirby Smart hope Eason’s play last week is a sign of things to come and the offense is ready to score more points. Eason’s outstanding day will surely open things up for Chubb and Sony Michel.
Kelly and the Rebels have an outstanding passing attack. The ‘Dawgs struggled to stop Drew Lock and Missouri last week, but did intercept three passes. They are an opportunistic bunch.
Ole Miss will not get off to as fast of a start as it did against FSU or Alabama. Chubb will bounce back and have a big day, while Eason will have a pair of turnovers. Those turnovers are just enough to help Ole Miss get a much-needed SEC win.
Prediction: Ole Miss 31, Georgia 27