OXFORD, Miss. — Welcome to one of the coolest spots on the college football landscape.
Seriously, for anybody who never has witnessed a football game at Mississippi, it’s worth a visit. It’s a pretty campus, cozy stadium and one of the best tailgating scenes in the nation (”The Grove”).
Football — that’s another story. Georgia plays Mississippi today, and nobody knows what we’re going to get. Both Mark Richt and Houston Nutt are feeling pressure. The Bulldogs rebounded from opening losses to Boise State and South Carolina last week to bury Coastal Carolina 59-0. But really, wins over Coastal Carolina generally don’t win over a fan base. SEC victories do.
And what really turns off a fan base are losses to Vanderbilt, which is why Nutt is catching even more flak than Richt. The Rebels are coming off a 30-7 loss to Vandy. The reaction has been so bad in and around Oxford that a group of Ole Miss supporters calling itself, “Forward Rebels” purchased full-page advertisements in five area newspapers, asking that Nutt be held accountable for the football team’s problems.
Relatively speaking, things aren’t so
bad for Richt. Nobody has bought an ad. But he and the Dogs need a win today. Georgia has a chance to begin to dig out of an early season hole in the next four weeks with games against the Rebels, Mississippi State (home), Tennessee (road) and Vanderbilt (road). That at least would give the Dogs some momentum going into the Florida game.
Some are referring to this as the “Hot Seat Bowl.” (We took a slightly different approach in Weekend Predictions.) Richt mocked the labels earlier this week, saying: “I knew that would happen. That was pretty easy to predict. You’d think they could have thought of something better than that. I think a couple of kindergartners could have figured out that one.”
Georgia needs to win, and win impressively today. The Rebels are ranked at or near the bottom in most statistical categories, including scoring offense (11th), total offense (12th), total defense, (11th), rushing offense (11th) and rushing defense (11th).
Historians, take note: The Dogs have won eight straight in this series. Their last loss came in Athens in 1996. Their last loss in Oxford was in 1995, Ray Goff’s final season.
Richt said earlier in the week, “I think we’re a team that is on the rise, but we’ll see. We’re going to play that first SEC game away from home and get a better feel for what kind of progress we have really made.”
Games against Ole Miss generally aren’t used as measuring sticks. But he’s right: At this point, a road SEC win over anybody would qualify as the most positive sign of the season.
One late note: Flanker Rantavious Wooten did not make the trip. According to sports information director Claude Felton, Wooten has a concussion as a result of a recent auto accident. We’ll try to get more information about this later.
And with that, I turn it over to you. I’ll check back shortly. Fire away . . .
By Jeff Schultz