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Game Primer: Ole Miss Football Takes on Georgia in Top 10 Showdown

Game Primer: Ole Miss Football Takes on Georgia in Top 10 Showdown

OXFORD, Miss. — (Release) As Ole Miss heads to Athens to take on Georgia in a Top-10 matchup, here’s everything you need to know about the game.

• This is the 47th meeting all-time between Ole Miss and Georgia dating back to 1940, the first since 2016.
• Georgia leads the all-time series, 32-12-1 … The original record is 32-13-1 in favor of the Bulldogs, with Ole Miss’ 2016 win in Oxford vacated due to NCAA ruling.
• This is the first top-10 meeting ever between the Rebels and Bulldogs, as well as just the fifth ranked meeting all-time and only the second in Athens (first since 1968) … UGA leads ranked contests, 3-1, in games played on the field.
• Ole Miss is 70-171-2 all-time vs. ranked opponents … Ole Miss has two AP Top 25 victories this season (Tulane, LSU).
• This will be the third contest ever for Ole Miss against a No. 1 team while ranked top-10, its first since 1959.
• Ole Miss is one of just five teams in 2023 with at least five wins against opponents currently with a winning record.
• Ole Miss is off to a 8-1 start for the second straight year, the first time in back-to-back years since 1961-62.
• The Rebels have cracked a national top 10 for the third straight season, the first such streak since 1962-64.
• Since 2020, Ole Miss leads all FBS teams at 504.8 yards per game and ranks fourth in total yards at 22,718.
• WR Tre Harris is the only FBS receiver this season with both a 200yd game and a four touchdown performance.
• Ole Miss leads the FBS w/three 600yd WRs: Tre Harris (749), Jordan Watkins (627) and Dayton Wade (602).
• QB Jaxson Dart ranks second in the SEC, 12th in the FBS at 311.2 yards of total offense per game.
• RB Quinshon Judkins leads the SEC with 12 rushing touchdowns this year … He ranks second in Ole Miss career history with 28, third in all-purpose TD (30) and fifth in rushing yards (2,360).
• Ole Miss leads the SEC and ranks 10th nationally in turnover margin (+8).
• Of Ole Miss’ 4,310 total yards, 3,104 (72.0%) have come from transfers.

Georgia heads into the matchup with the Rebels ranked No. 1 in both the AP and AFCA Coaches polls. The Bulldogs have won 26 straight games and are the two-time defending national champions. Georgia ranks in the top half in the SEC in nearly every statistical category. Offensively, the Bulldogs rank No. 6 nationally in total offense (493.0) and No. 10 in scoring (39.3). Junior quarterback Carson Beck is ninth in the FBS averaging 301.8 yards passing per game. Beck has completed 72 percent of his passes with 16 touchdowns and just four interceptions. Daijun Edwards carries the load at running back, averaging 90 yards rushing per game with eight rushing TDs. Tight end Brock Bowers, the 2022 John Mackey Award winner and first team All-American, leads the Bulldogs with 41 catches for 567 yards and four touchdowns, but has missed the last several games due to injury. The Georgia defense leads the SEC in total defense, allowing just 282.6 yards per game. The Bulldogs are limiting their opponent to just 26.5 percent conversion on third down, third-best in the country. Senior defensive back Tykee Smith ranks No. 9 in the FBS with four interceptions.

Ole Miss is off to at least an 8-1 start for the second straight season under head coach Lane Kiffin, the first time doing so in back-to-back years since 1961 (8-1) and 1962 (9-0). When including ties, this is the first time Ole Miss has had at least eight wins through nine games played since the Rebels did so in four consecutive seasons from 1959-62.

• Ole Miss and Georgia will meet for the 47th time in a series that started in 1940, the first since 2016.
• The Rebels and Bulldogs last met in Athens in 2012, with Georgia winning 37-10.
• Georgia leads the all-time series 32-12-1 … The original record is 32-13-1 in favor of the Bulldogs, with Ole Miss’ 2016 win in Oxford vacated due to NCAA ruling.
• Georgia leads the series in Athens 18-4-1.
• This will be the fifth ranked meeting all-time between the Rebels and Bulldogs, with Georgia leading such games 3-1 on the field … This will also be the first-ever matchup with both teams in the top-10.
• This will be only the second ever ranked meeting between Ole Miss and Georgia in Athens, joining a game on Oct. 12, 1968 between the No. 13 Rebels and No. 17 Bulldogs (L, 21-7).
• Ole Miss’ 2016 win (later vacated by the NCAA) snapped a 10-game losing streak to the Bulldogs dating to 1996.

• Ole Miss ranks No. 10 in both the Associated Press and Coaches polls for Week 11.
• Ole Miss also ranks No. 9 in the latest College Football Playoff rankings released Nov. 7.
• Dating back to 2021, Ole Miss has been ranked in the top 25 in 40 of the last 42 poll releases … That includes a streak of 29 across 2021 and 2022, the longest streak since being ranked for 41 straight weeks from 2014-16.
• The SEC boasts six teams in the top 25 of all three polls.

Saturday will mark Ole Miss’ 17th all-time meeting with a No. 1 team, its first since Oct. 1, 2021 against No. 1 Alabama (L, 42-21). This will be the Rebels’ first No. 1 matchup against a school not named Alabama or LSU since Oct. 30, 2010 when No. 1 Auburn came to Oxford (L, 51-31), as well as their first ever meeting with a No. 1 Georgia team. All-time, Ole Miss has one victory over a No. 1 ranked school against Alabama in Oxford on Oct. 4, 2014 (23-17). With the Rebels entering Saturday ranked No. 10, this will constitute Ole Miss’ third contest against a No. 1 team while within the top-10 and its first since Oct. 31, 1959 at No. 1 LSU (L, 7-3; Ole Miss ranked No. 3).

The Rebels continue to be one of the best teams in the country in explosive plays, currently third among all FBS teams with 65 plays of 20 yards or more this season. In total, Ole Miss has tallied 162 plays of 10 or more yards this year, ranking seventh among all FBS schools. The Rebels average 18.0 such plays per game.

With its initial appearance at No. 10 ranking in the Coaches Poll in Week 10, Ole Miss has now cracked the top-10 in the national rankings for the third consecutive season, joining a high of No. 7 in 2022 and No. 8 in 2021. The last time the Rebels entered the top-10 of a major national poll in three straight campaigns was 1962-64. Ole Miss is one of just five teams nationally this season with at least five wins against opponents currently with a winning record.

Ole Miss QB Jaxson Dart has had plenty of targets in the passing game, but none more frequently than wideouts Jordan Watkins (44 rec., 627 yards, 3 TD), Dayton Wade (40 rec., 602 yards, 3 TD) and Tre Harris (38 rec., 749 yards, 7 TD). The Rebels are the lone FBS team with three 600-yard receivers, and combined among them the trio has nine 100-yard outings this season. All three have been crucial toward Ole Miss’ status as a big-play threat as well, combining for 73 catches of at least 10 yards, 38 of at least 20 yards, 20 of at least 30 yards and nine beyond 40 yards.

Ole Miss senior wideout Tre Harris has been a difficult target to cover for opposing defenses, helping stretch the Rebel offense downfield through several explosive games. Most recently against Texas A&M, Harris became just the sixth Rebel to ever record a 200-yard receiving game with the ninth total 200-yard effort in Ole Miss history, ending with 213 yards and a TD on 11 catches. Harris is the lone FBS receiver this season with both a 200-yard receiving game (213, vs. Texas A&M) and a four touchdown performance (4, vs. Mercer) — the latter of which is an Ole Miss record and also makes him the lone receiver in the Rebel record books to perform both feats across a career, let alone a season. Since the beginning of the 2021 season, Harris is one of just five FBS receivers to have both a 200-yard game and a four-touchdown game, and he is the only one to have done so across separate games. Harris’ four touchdown debut against Mercer made him just the 22nd player in SEC history to haul in four in a single game. Harris is no stranger to the multi-TD effort, having caught three touchdown passes against Rice last October while a member of the Louisiana Tech football team. Harris — a preseason Biletnikoff Award watch list member — owns a career line of 144 receptions, 2,266 yards and 21 touchdowns — 17 of which have come within the last calendar year after a 10 TD season with the Bulldogs in 2022. In 2023, Harris is still the only receiver in the SEC and one of just two in the FBS with four touchdown receptions in a single game.

Junior QB Jaxson Dart has been one of the top signal callers this season with both his arm and his legs, ranking second in the SEC and 12th nationally at his 311.2 yards of total offense per game. As Dart goes, so have the Rebels so far this season, with his SEC No. 3 points responsible per game clip of 15.6 helping spur the Rebels to the No. 3 scoring offense in the conference (No. 14 FBS) at 38.8 points per game. Dart ranks third in the SEC in both yards per completion at 15.4 (FBS No. 7) and yards per attempt at 10.1 (FBS No. 5), and he also ranks No. 9 nationally at his passing efficiency rating of 168.9. Dart has been especially effective in the first quarters so far this season, standing at 50-of-68 (73.5%) for 802 yards and seven touchdowns in the opening frame. That includes a blistering 11-for-11 stretch to open the season against Mercer, making him just the seventh Ole Miss quarterback to ever throw 11 consecutive completions and the best such streak since Matt Corral set the school record at 19 in a row at Vanderbilt in 2020. Dart is starting to climb several Ole Miss career lists, as he now ranks seventh all-time in total offense (6,389), seventh in career 300-yard passing games (5), eighth in passing yards (5,441), eighth in passing touchdowns (36) and ninth in touchdowns responsible for (44). In his overall career combining totals from his freshman season at USC in 2021, Dart owns 6,794 yards passing, 7,785 yards of total offense, 991 yards rushing (948 at Ole Miss), and 45 passing touchdowns. Dart is eight rushing yards shy of becoming one of just 20 quarterbacks in the FBS and four within the SEC with at least 4,000 career passing yards and 1,000 career rushing yards, as well as one of 17 with at least 6,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards.

With 52 more rushing yards, Jaxson Dart will become just the third member all-time in the Ole Miss 5,000/1,000 club in passing and rushing, joining John Fourcade (1978-81) and Matt Corral (2018-21).

Ole Miss has had a well-rounded running game, particularly when it comes to punching the ball across the goal line for six. The Rebels stand as the lone team in the SEC with two rushers with at least seven rushing touchdowns, with sophomore RB Quinshon Judkins leading the SEC lead at 12 and junior QB Jaxson Dart with seven — the second-most among all SEC signal callers and tied for sixth nationally among quarterbacks.

Sophomore RB Quinshon Judkins has exploded for 592 rushing yards and eight touchdowns across his last five games after opening the season with just 201 yards and four scores across his first four games against defenses keyed-in on the consensus preseason All-American. Judkins broke out with 177 yards on 33 carries against the No. 12 LSU defense on Sept. 30, and has followed that up with 100-yard efforts at Auburn (124, 1 TD), vs. Vanderbilt (124, 2 TD) and vs. Texas A&M (102, 3 TD).  Those four efforts beyond the century mark have pushed Judkins to sole possession of No. 2 in Ole Miss history in career 100-yard games. His 177 yards against LSU was his third career 150-yard outing — with his other two last year being a 214-yard explosion at Arkansas, and a 205-yard effort at Texas A&M (making his 177 yards vs. LSU his most in front of a home crowd). Judkins is marching his way up several other all-time lists at Ole Miss, as he is currently second in career rushing touchdowns (28), second in multi-rushing TD games (9), third in career all-purpose touchdowns (30), and fifth in career rushing yards (2,360). Judkins is coming off a historic freshman campaign in 2022 that saw him break several Ole Miss records, including the single-season rushing mark. Judkins was a consensus first team selection on all the Preseason All-America teams and All-SEC teams, and was selected to the Maxwell, Walter Camp and Doak Walker Award watch lists. He currently stands as the top active rusher in the FBS in several categories, including as one of just eight with at least 1,500 yards rushing and an 85.0 yards per game average.

Ole Miss has two well-seasoned backs in Quinshon Judkins (28) and Ulysses Bentley IV (22), who are one of eight duos in the FBS with at least 20 career rushing touchdowns alongside other duos from FAU, LSU, Memphis, Notre Dame, Ohio State, San Jose State and USC. Combined, they own 4,380 career yards and 50 total touchdowns on the ground.

Ole Miss leads the SEC and ranks 10th in the FBS in turnover margin, currently sitting at a total season margin of +8 and a per-game margin of +0.9. The Rebel defense has done its part with 10 interceptions and four fumble recoveries, but it’s been the powerful — yet careful — Ole Miss offense that has helped pad that margin, currently leading the SEC and ranking fifth nationally at just six turnovers all season.

Ole Miss is once again running a lightning-quick offense in 2023, currently ranking 10th in the FBS at 23.1 seconds per play. This season, Ole Miss owns seven scoring drives clocking in beneath the one-minute mark, including back-to-back opening drives against Mercer (51 seconds) and Tulane (48 seconds). The 51-second drive against Mercer was the fastest to open a season for Ole Miss since 2018, and the 28 first quarter points ranks as the most in available records since at least 1967. The 48-second debut against the Green Wave, meanwhile, was the fastest on any opening drive for the Rebels since finding the endzone in just 34 seconds against Liberty on Nov. 6, 2021. In the Kiffin era, Ole Miss is 26-5 when scoring first.

The Landshark defense has been on a tear lately, helping lift Ole Miss in three straight victories against Arkansas, Auburn and Vanderbilt, but doing so in different ways. The Rebel defense stifled the Razorbacks to just 36 yards on the ground back on Oct. 7, the fewest yielded to an SEC opponent by Ole Miss since shutting out Tennessee to zero rushing yards back on Oct. 18, 2014. Ole Miss followed that up with lockdown passing defense performances at Auburn and Vanderbilt that rank among the best by the Rebels since 2014 — with the 60 yielded to the Commodores tying to the fewest in that span. In terms of total offense, those three games against Arkansas (288), Auburn (275) and Vanderbilt (229) constituted the first three-game stretch against the SEC since a span from the end of the 2008 season (vs. Mississippi State, 24 yards) and the beginning of the 2009 season (at South Carolina, 285 yards; at Vanderbilt, 240 yards). The last time Ole Miss held three straight SEC opponents to fewer than 300 yards within the same season was in 1993 in a stretch against Alabama (279), LSU (299) and Mississippi State (279).

The Rebel offense can get out to an explosive start, as evidenced by its 117-38 first quarter margin (13.0 to 4.2 per game), but Ole Miss has also closed games in powerful fashion, holding an almost identical scoring margin in the final frame at 103-58 (11.4 to 6.4). That extends to the entire second half as well, as Ole Miss holds a season advantage of 176-110 in the back two quarters. The Rebels own six quarters with at least 20 points this year, five of which have come in either the first or fourth quarters.

Ole Miss ranks as one of the most ferocious defenses in the backfield this season, ranking fifth nationally in sacks (3.4/game) and 13th in tackles for loss (7.3/game). The Rebels have been relentless, recording at least 3.0 TFL in all eight games this season, with seven of nine games hitting at least 6.0 TFL, four with at least 9.0 TFL, and two in double-digits against Mercer in the season-opener (11.0) and against Arkansas on Oct. 7 (10.0). Those TFL have come at a huge cost for opposing teams as well, as the Rebels lead the SEC and rank tied for third nationally in lost yardage at 326 yards. Ole Miss has been equally as punishing in disrupting the passing game, notching multiple sacks in eight games, recording at least four sacks in five and notching five sacks twice this year. A wide range of defenders have been getting in on the fun, too, with a total of 13 Rebels contributing to a QB sack and 22 having chipped-in on a TFL. And all that mayhem is paying off, with eight forced fumbles (including a Khari Coleman sack fumble returned for a TD by Jared Ivey vs. Tulane), 10 interceptions, 37 QB hurries, 35 pass breakups and two blocked field goals. In the Kiffin era, Ole Miss has recorded multiple sacks in 32 games, at least 5.0 tackles for loss in 30 games, and at least 4.0 sacks in 18 games. In games under Kiffin with at least 5.0 tackles for loss, Ole Miss is 21-9, and in games with at least 4.0 sacks, the Rebels are 10-3.

The Ole Miss secondary has put together an excellent stretch of games beginning with S Daijahn Anthony’s game-sealing pass breakup against No. 12 LSU on Sept. 30, yielding just 437 combined passing yards over its next three games to Arkansas (250), Auburn (122) and Vanderbilt (60). Since, the Rebel defensive backs have combined for seven interceptions and 14 pass breakups for 21 total passes defended. Ole Miss picked off two passes apiece in all three games against Arkansas (LB Ashanti Cistrunk, S John Saunders Jr.), Auburn (Saunders Jr., CB Zamari Walton), and Vanderbilt (both by S Trey Washington), marking the first time since 2014 that Ole Miss came down with multiple picks in three consecutive games. Furthermore, Washington’s two INTs against the Commodores on Oct. 28 made him the first Rebel with two in the same game since A.J. Finley against Liberty in 2021 and currently makes him one of just five defensive backs in the SEC to do so this season. On the year, Ole Miss has only allowed three opponents to break 300 yards passing in eight total games: LSU (414), Georgia Tech (307) and Texas A&M (305).

Ole Miss has been no stranger to the transfer portal, and it has paid huge dividends this season, with 3,104 of its 4,310 yards (72.0%) of total offense coming from transfer players. That doesn’t include all 2,679 passing yards from all three of Ole Miss’ three transfer quarterbacks, but it does include 776 of 1,631 rushing yards (47.6%), and 2,328 of 2,679 receiving yards (86.9%), as well as 28 of all 44 Rebel touchdowns (63.6%) this season.

Senior WR Jordan Watkins has been a big-play threat throughout his two-year tenure as a Rebel, and he’s been a dynamite all-purpose option for Ole Miss this season. Watkins has eclipsed the century mark receiving in three games this season, including a career-high 119 yards against Georgia Tech, and he has broken loose for several massive plays. Watkins has 21 plays of at least 10 yards, including 10 of at least 20 yards, four of at least 30 and three of the top-four long plays for Ole Miss this season: his 70-yard punt return touchdown against Mercer, his 68-yard TD reception against Georgia Tech, and his 63-yard score through the air against LSU. Watkins also had four receptions of 30 yards last season, including a 61-yard catch at Vanderbilt. This season, his 70-yard punt return TD ranks third longest in the SEC.

Senior WR Dayton Wade is in the midst of a career year in 2023 as one of Ole Miss’ top deep-play threats. At 602 yards on 40 receptions, Wade has already passed his prior high in yards (309) and catches (27) — both recorded in 2022, his first season at Ole Miss after three at WKU from 2019-21. Wade has had at least 64 yards receiving in six games this year, including a career day against Vanderbilt with 120 yards and one touchdown on eight catches. He leads all Rebels and is among just five SEC receivers with five receptions of at least 40 yards.

Evelyn Van Pelt

Evelyn Van Pelt

Evelyn has covered sports for over two decades, beginning her journalism career as a sports writer for a newspaper in Austin, Texas. She attended Texas A&M and majored in English. Evelyn’s love for Ole Miss began when her daughter Katie attended the university on a volleyball scholarship. Evelyn created the Rebel Walk in 2013 and has served as publisher and managing editor since its inception.

About The Author

Evelyn Van Pelt

Evelyn has covered sports for over two decades, beginning her journalism career as a sports writer for a newspaper in Austin, Texas. She attended Texas A&M and majored in English. Evelyn's love for Ole Miss began when her daughter Katie attended the university on a volleyball scholarship. Evelyn created the Rebel Walk in 2013 and has served as publisher and managing editor since its inception.

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