Georgia football earned its 10th straight win after beating Mississippi State 45-19. While it wasn’t the prettiest win, the Dawgs still covered the spread and left Starkville, MS., with a 10-0 record and an SEC East title.
For the fifth time in seven seasons, head coach Kirby Smart led his team to win the SEC East, and that is a testament to how he transformed the program into a force that no one wants to play. The Dawgs are dominating and one of the best programs in the country because of the physicality they bring to the table, among other things.
The SEC West Bulldogs gave Georgia a good challenge. That environment was not easy to play in, as those cowbells still make our ears ring. Mississippi State is hard to beat at home, and that is the biggest loss they had all season, which gives Georgia some credit and the Bulldogs some too.
That loss for Mississippi State was their first at home all season, so while it wasn’t perfect for Georgia, it’s still a big win for the Dawgs. To go into someone’s house and beat them by 26-points in front of their home crowd is massive. Not to mention, Mississippi State’s defense is solid, and it showed against Georgia’s offense.
After looking through the stats and rewatching the game, these are the three takeaways from it. Georgia remains undefeated but still had a lot of sloppy moments that have to get cleaned up if the Dawgs want to win another SEC Championship and possibly another national championship.
Georgia football saw Ladd McConkey rise up and be a weapon
The Dawgs saw receiver Ladd McConkey have a big game against Mississippi State — he desperately needed that kind of performance. He recorded five catches for 71 yards and one score. McConkey also had one rush for 70 yards that scored a touchdown. So, McConkey recorded 141 yards from scrimmage, and Mississippi State had no answer.
He needed this kind of game to boost his confidence. McConkey has had an up-and-down year, but more often than not, he has come through for the Dawgs. Fans tend to be a little hard on him, including us, but we all saw that dry spell end on Saturday night. Starting quarterback Stetson Bennett has another threat he can use at receiver that he can trust in McConkey, and that will be so helpful the next couple of weeks.
McConkey is so good and continues to prove why so many teams made a mistake when they overlooked him. He knows what the team needs from him, and McConkey continues to give the team everything he has. It was good to see him have this performance ahead of the two final regular season games, and we hope he keeps it going.
Georgia football has to eliminate mistakes and sloppiness.
There is something about this team that is dominating yet sloppy. The Dawgs continue to cough up the football and have silly penalties at the wrong moments. It’s time to clean those up. Honestly, it’s past time. Georgia had two interceptions against the Bulldogs. Last week, the Dawgs had two turnovers and three against Florida the previous week.
Most teams would lose in those games where they turnover the ball multiple times, but here we are, 10-0, and still dominating.
In the last two weeks, Georgia had six penalties in each game — it is just above what we saw from the Dawgs most of the season. Some of those penalties have been hogwash, but it is what it is. The Dawgs must stay disciplined and avoid having those errors happen on crucial third downs. Mississippi State scored because of silly penalties from Georgia that kept their drive alive.
When Georgia plays with focus and discipline, it’s pretty obvious it is the best team in the country, but throwing in these self-inflicted wounds makes the Dawgs look less elite. Smart will have them dialed back in for these last two games against the Wildcats and Yellow Jackets because these are the weeks to prep for those two opponents and the postseason.
Georgia football dominated on defense despite giving up 261 passing yards.
The Dawgs’ defense came out strong against Mississippi State, and while the Bulldogs found ways to succeed with their air-raid offense, Georgia’s defense should hold their head high. Will Rogers went 29-of-51 for 261 yards and one touchdown. He completed 56% of his passes, which isn’t terrible, but it isn’t that great, either. Georgia recorded five pass breakups, and while there were a few questionable penalties on our secondary, they held tough.
There could be some tackling improvements from Georgia, but for the most part, they did a great job getting guys down and avoiding too many big plays. The Dawgs recorded another sack, five tackles for loss, and at least five quarterback hurries. It was a good day for this side of the ball.
Georgia football handle its business in a challenging environment to stay undefeated and in the hunt for an SEC Championship and potentially a playoff berth. The next two weeks are huge for the Dawgs, and they must remain focused and avoid looking ahead too much.