ATHENS -- It has come to this: The Georgia Bulldogs have a big game against Mississippi State.
It's been a while since that happened, but when Georgia (1-2 and 0-2 in the SEC) heads on the road this weekend to Starkeville the Bulldogs, who have won nine in a row against Mississippi State, will be playing in a must-win game.
This is the first Mark Richt Georgia team to tart the SEC at 0-2, and after losing a close game to Arkansas, 24-17, last week, the Bulldogs need to beat someone in the SEC -- anyone in the SEC.
"They're desperate for a victory and so are we," said Richt. "It's going to be a great competition, and hopefully we'll get our guys prepared for what they're going to see, and the young men will get after like they're supposed too. Both teams are going to battle and we'll see how it goes."
Mississippi State is also winless in the SEC (0-2) and is coming off a 29-7 loss to LSU in Baton Rouge, La.
Arkansas racked up six sacks on the Bulldogs, and Georgia will face another stout defense in Starkville. MSU held LSU to four field goals in the first half before the Tigers pulled away. Richt said there's not one specific area to shore up when looking at the sacks surrendered by his team.
"I'm not going to sit here and throw out something that sounds like dirty laundry because I care very much about the mental well-being of our players," Richt said.
"It's a combination of an offensive line issue, a running backs issue as pass protectors and quarterback issues. It was spread out across the board."
Richt said he was pleased with the play of his quarterback, freshman Aaron Murry, who almost led a Bulldog comeback against Arkansas.
"I'll say this, when he moves up in the pocket, some very positive things happened and not a lot of negative things," Richt said. "There were times he tried to move up and then back and when he didn't move forward, he got drilled.
"He has to work his way up and throw it in time and don't try to create something that's not there. If you try to do that enough, you're going to get hit. Still, he's made a lot of positive plays, and you can't ask guys to block too long, and he's learning that''
Nobody questions his toughness, his arm strength, his competitiveness, his devotion to the team, his work ethic.''
He has a lot of positive attributes. He's only going to get better."
Richt knows losses can take their toll on players, but Richt said he doesn't see a problem in motivating his players this week.
"It depends on the group you're dealing with, and I think our guys will get back on their horse and ride," he said. "We all want to have a positive result. I don't think that will be an issue. No doubt, it's tougher to lead after a loss or two then after a win, but we have strong leadership among our players and coaches."
Georgia leads the series with MSU 16-5, but the two teams haven't faced each other since 2006 when Georgia edged MSU 27-24 in Athens. Georgia's last trip to Starkville came in 2005, and it returned home with a 23-10 victory.