Georgia (4-0) vs. Ole Miss (1-3)
Kickoff: 9 p.m. (TV: ESPN2, Radio: 940-AM)
Stadium: Vaught-Hemingway (60,580)
Kickoff weather: High of 80, low of 58; partly cloudy; 20 percent chance of rain
Series: Georgia leads 28-12-1
Last meeting: Georgia won 31-17 in Athens in 2002
Odds: Georgia favored by 18
Injuries: Georgia: Probable: DL Ray Gant (foot); Doubtful: OL Michael Turner (ankle); Out: OL Zeb McKinzey (shoulder), QB Joe Tereshinski (ankle). Ole Miss: Probable: DL Peria Jerry (foot), DL Jeremy Garrett (leg).
Georgia hopes a lineup shuffle with breath some life into its running game. Kregg Lumpkin has taken over the starting role from Thomas Brown, but all three backs (Lumpkin, Brown and Danny Ware) are expected to play as usual. Ole Miss’ run game, which has been less impressive even than Georgia’s, comes almost solely from BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who can run inside and out, and shifty quarterback Brent Schaeffer. No other player on the team has more than eight attempts.
With all the attention Georgia’s quarterbacks have gotten, it’s been easy to overlook the fact that none of them have had much help from the wide receivers. The Bulldogs’ pass catchers need to begin making some plays for the offense to work. As dangerous as Schaeffer is with his legs, he’s been equally inconsistent with his arm. Look for the Rebels’ passing game to be made up entirely of play-action short passes and roll-out options similar to the ones Colorado had so much success with last week. Schaeffer’s athleticism makes him dangerous on the outside, but Georgia’s will be more than ready for that look this week.
Don’t expect Georgia to blitz much. The Bulldogs don’t want Schaeffer getting loose on the run and they do want him to have to make decisions against a zone defense. The Rebel offensive line, minus left tackle Michael Oher, has been bad, so Georgia probably can handle the running game without any safety help. That will make things hard on Schaeffer. Ole Miss is very thin and very beat up along the defensive line, so this will be a good time for Georgia’s up-and-down offensive line to build some momentum. Rebels middle linebacker Patrick Willis (No. 49) would be a national name if he played for a better team, so he’ll be fun to watch.
Georgia had too many dumb penalties on special teams last week, and place-kicker Brandon Coutu missed his first kick of the season, a 53-yarder. However, those have been the only blemishes so far on the Bulldogs’ special teams. The Rebels are in the middle of the pack in the SEC in most special teams categories but do have a pair of dangerous freshmen kick returners, Dexter McCluster and Marshay Green.
Forecast: As bad as the Bulldogs have been about overlooking opponents (see: Colorado last week, West Virginia last year), they generally handle their grunt work in conference very well. This is the epitome of grunt work. Colorado was a team on the verge of breaking out. The Rebels are a team on the verge of collapse. Nothing Ole Miss is doing offensively or defensively is working, and the coaching staff has few choices for personnel changes. If the Bulldogs can manage to keep themselves interested through a long day in Memphis, Tenn., where they will stayed Friday night, they will win this game.