Georgia, Mississippi State face crossroads game
ATHENS, Ga. (AP) - One year ago, Mississippi State's win over Georgia was a turning point in each team's season.
The Southeastern Conference's two teams with Bulldogs nicknames face a similar crossroads game on Saturday.
Georgia, attempting to recover from an 0-2 start that included a home loss to SEC East rival South Carolina, is looking for its third straight win. Mississippi State, coming off a shaky offensive showing in an overtime win over Louisiana State, will try for its first SEC win after two losses and its first win in Athens in more than 50 years.
The losing team will have little hope of being a factor in the SEC. The winner will have renewed hope of contending.
Georgia tight end Aron White said last year's 24-12 loss at Mississippi State set the pace for a 6-7 season.
"Losing that game, it was really tough," White said. "The locker room last year was probably the most pitiful scene you could think of. Everybody was just down.
"We were just in a bad place. It might have been something that was a turning point in our season and that's not something we want to have happen again. We definitely were in a rut last season and that game could have defined our season."
Mississippi State was only 1-2 last season before starting a six-game winning streak by beating Georgia. Coach Dan Mullen's team finished 9-4 with a trip to the Gator Bowl.
"We're coming into this year's game very similar to how we came into last year's game," Mullen said.
"It's an opportunity to really turn the season into a positive note, get it going in the right direction with our first SEC win."
Mississippi State (2-2 overall, 0-2 SEC) was impressive in scoring a combined 93 points in its first two games, a win over Memphis and a 41-34 loss to Auburn. Mullen's team lost 19-6 to LSU before surviving to beat Louisiana Tech 26-20 in overtime last week.
Georgia (2-2, 1-1) will try for its second straight win against a team from the state of Mississippi, following last week's 27-13 victory at Ole Miss. Freshman tailback Isaiah Crowell continued to emerge as Georgia's new lead back as he set career highs with 30 carries for 147 yards against the Rebels.
This will be Georgia's last home game before November. Georgia plays at Tennessee and at Vanderbilt the next two weeks.
Mississippi State's last win at Sanford Stadium came in 1956. Georgia has won its last eight home games in the series and most recently beat Mississippi State 27-24 in 2006.
Without top WR, Vols test offense against Buffalo
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Tennessee coach Derek Dooley wants to see improvement from his offense against Buffalo, even if the Volunteers aren't lighting up the scoreboard as they've done a few times already this season.
The Vols (2-1) spent their bye week trying to develop more focus in the running game, more targets in the passing game and more young players who can add depth. They've lost top wide receiver Justin Hunter for the season to a torn ACL and need to prove they can keep opposing defenses honest without him.
Buffalo coach Jeff Quinn wants to see how the Bulls (1-3) handle a big-time game environment when they travel to Knoxville on Saturday. Though they've played Pittsburgh and hosted Connecticut this season, nothing quite compares to playing at the 102,455-seat Neyland Stadium.
Alabama-Florida pits strength against strength
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) - Florida is calling Saturday night's game against Alabama a "line-of-scrimmage" affair.
Without question, the third-ranked Crimson Tide and the 12th-ranked Gators want to run and stop the run. It's fundamental football in the Southeastern Conference, and essential for both teams this season.
Alabama ranks second in the conference in rushing - averaging 231 yards a game thanks mostly to Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy - and leads the league leads in rushing defense at 46 yards a game.
The Gators lead the SEC in rushing - averaging 259 yards a game behind speedsters Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps - and rank third against the run at 57 yards a game.
So it's strength against strength in the Swamp, a game likely decided in the trenches, old-school football at its finest.
10th-ranked Gamecocks looking to emulate Auburn
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - No. 10 South Carolina hopes to follow in Auburn's footsteps from a year ago - along with gaining a bit of payback for last season.
The Gamecocks (4-0, 2-0 SEC) lost twice to the Tigers (3-1, 1-0), including 56-17 in the Southeastern Conference title game.
Auburn was a work in progress through the early part of 2010, needing several escapes to make its national title run.
This time around, it is South Carolina walking the tightrope, squeaking by in nearly all its wins as it tries to energize an offense that's struggling to score points.
The Gamecocks are 99th nationally in passing, despite having fifth-year quarterback Stephen Garcia and receiving star Alshon Jeffery. Their success so far has come from Marcus Lattimiore, the SEC's top rusher with 611 yards.
LSU has bad memories of playing Kentucky as No. 1
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Les Miles gets plenty of practice in the art of trying to keep his players grounded when LSU is a heavy favorite.
Doing so this week has been somewhat easier, thanks to a little deja-vu surrounding Saturday's meeting between the top-ranked Tigers (4-0, 1-0 SEC) and Kentucky (2-2, 0-1).
The last time these teams met in 2007, an unbeaten LSU squad had just risen to No. 1 with a memorable triumph over Florida.
Although LSU would go on to win a national title that season, the Tigers stumbled in Kentucky, losing 43-37 in triple overtime.
The LSU coach says he remembers how the Wildcats humbled his team that day.
Miles' players may be buying into that history lesson, but the oddsmakers are not. LSU is a 30-point favorite.
Old rivals Arkansas, Texas A&M look to future
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) - Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson calls Saturday's game with Texas A&M a "must win."
After a 38-14 loss to Alabama last week, Wilson said the prospect of a two-game losing streak is all the motivation the No. 18 Razorbacks (3-1) need as they prepare to face the No. 14 Aggies (2-1) in a matchup of once and future conference rivals.
The Southwest Classic matchup in Dallas is the third installment of a 10-year series agreed to between the former Southwestern Conference rivals. It's also a peek at the future since Texas A&M will join the Southeastern Conference beginning next season.
While the game is full of nostalgia, it's also critical for both teams to come away with a win. The Aggies are coming off a 30-29 loss to Oklahoma State.
No. 21 Ga Tech looks to roll against NC State
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - Nobody has been able to stop Georgia Tech's offense so far.
That doesn't seem likely to change Saturday when the 21st-ranked Yellow Jackets will line up the nation's most productive offense against a North Carolina State defense that has been riddled by injuries.
Coach Paul Johnson's triple-option system has long been known for its gaudy production on the ground. Now that the Yellow Jackets (4-0, 1-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) have figured out how to put the ball in the air, they've been unstoppable.
They lead the nation with averages of 53 points and 630.5 total yards.
Stopping them will be tough for an N.C. State defense that ranks 93rd nationally in total defense and will start its third combination of defensive linemen in five games.
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