And yet, here we are as No. 17 Mississippi State will make the trek to No. 11 Georgia Saturday night before what's sure to be a packed house in Athens. Dan Mullen's Bulldogs are fresh off a 37-7 dismantling of LSU in which quarterback Nick Fitzgerald made a Heisman Trophy statement. Georgia feasted on a Samford-flavored cupcake, and should be well-rested to step into SEC play for the first time all year.
Georgia enters the matchup as a 4.5-point favorite, according to SportsLine.
Date: Saturday, Sept. 23 | Time: 7 p.m. ET
Location: Sanford Stadium -- Athens, Georgia
TV: ESPN | Live stream: WatchESPN
Mississippi State: Fitzgerald garners most of the pub in Starkville thanks to his four-touchdown performance against LSU last weekend, but the emergence of Aeris Williams (146 yards) as a complementary edge threat is what makes this offense click. Georgia has defensive speed and strength, and it will undoubtedly focus its attention on slowing Fitzgerald. If Williams can hit a big play or two, it'll open everything up for Fitzgerald and Mullen to unleash the full repertoire. Defensively, Todd Grantham's presence at defensive coordinator has helped a talented group come together and reach its full potential. But if you don't stop running back Nick Chubb, you won't beat Georgia. It's up to Jeffery Simmons, Leo Lewis and the rest of that front seven to make that happen.
Georgia: Sony Michel sat out last week's win over Samford, but he might be the most important player in this game. The "Robin" to Chubb's "Batman" at running back, Michel will get involved as a ball-carrier and a weapon out of the backfield. If Chubb can get it done between the tackles and Michel can stress Grantham, it will give freshman quarterback Jake Fromm easy throws, allow him to work off play-action when appropriate and keep the ball away from Fitzgerald. The key for Georgia's defense is linebacker Roquon Smith. A monster north-south and east-west, it's going to be on Smith to stay disciplined against an offense that thrives with eye candy.
This will be Fromm's big day. While Fitzgerald is the quarterback with buzz heading in, Fromm will play smart choose his spots to try to exploit Mississippi State's defense and lead his team to a big win over the visiting Bulldogs from Starkville by making a couple of big throws in the second half. That, coupled with Chubb's ability to shut the door, will slow down the Mississippi State hype train for at least one week. Pick: Georgia -4.5