No. 13 Georgia will host Mississippi State on Saturday at Sanford Stadium in Athens. The last Bulldogs-Bulldogs matchup was three years ago, when Georgia routed Mississippi State 31-3 at home. Here are four numbers to know before the game:
Due to COVID-19 isolation and quarantine protocols this fall, the SEC requires that both teams have at least 53 active players for a game to be played as scheduled. Mississippi State did not meet the 53-player threshold last week, and its contest against Auburn was one of four SEC games postponed on Nov. 14, including Georgia’s matchup with Missouri. Georgia is among the minority of SEC teams that haven’t dealt with an outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020. Although concerns have surfaced this week about whether Mississippi State will have enough personnel to meet Georgia in Athens, the game is still currently on the books.
Mississippi State’s 44-34 win over LSU to start the season now looks more like a fluke than proof of how an Air Raid offense can disrupt SEC defenses. In five games since Sept. 26, Mississippi State has recorded a total of 54 points. Quarterback KJ Costello’s five-touchdown opener in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, gave way to two one-touchdown performances and two outings without a score through the air. With backup Will Rogers under center on Nov. 7, the Bulldogs found a mild offensive resurgence, scoring 24 points in its win over Vanderbilt. Sacks and turnovers have been dual Achilles heels for Mississippi State in 2020. The Bulldogs have turned the ball over 19 times and given up 19 sacks so far this season, ranking last and third-to-last in the SEC in those categories respectively.
Nearly a third of Mississippi State’s total yardage this season arrived during its Week 1 win at LSU. Above only Tennessee and Kentucky in the SEC total offense rankings, Mississippi State has averaged 324.7 yards per game, 93.4% of which came from pass plays. The Bulldogs have posted negative total rushing yards in two of its previous three games, pushing its season average down to just 21.5 yards on 16.7 attempts per game. A combination of gameplan, poor play on the offensive line and an average of nearly 25 negative yards from sacks in each contest have contributed to Mississippi State’s unbalanced offense.
Relative to the SEC’s top producing offenses, both Georgia and Mississippi State have struggled to put up points while in scoring position. On 20 trips to the red zone this season, Georgia has made it to the end zone 12 times. Its touchdown rate of 60% is 22.5 percentage points higher than Mississippi State’s SEC-worst 37.5%. Mike Leach’s offense has scored six touchdowns on 16 possessions inside opponents’ 20-yard line and has settled for a field goal four times, joining Vanderbilt at the bottom of the SEC with a 62.5% overall red zone scoring rate. Meanwhile, Georgia has kicked three red zone field goals in 2020, and its 75% scoring rate ranks 11th in the conference.