Mississippi State's defense made some halftime adjustments and played one of its better halves of football this season. After gaining 237 total yards in the first half, Georgia gained just 78 the rest of the way.
Freshman tailback Isaiah Crowell had 90 yards in the first half, 14 in the second. MSU intercepted Aaron Murray three times, and Darius Slay took one back 72 yards for the Bulldogs' only touchdown.
MSU had to again shuffle personnel on its offensive line, and the patchwork unit had trouble with Georgia's big three-man front. State allowed five sacks, and at least one of those was against a three-man rush.
State had only 56 yards rushing, and its reputation as a running juggernaut is taking a severe blow. After averaging 321 yards on the ground through the first two games, the Bulldogs are averaging 94.7 yards over the last three.
Keys For victory
Evaluating the keys to victory in Saturday's GameDay section:
1. Hit the edges. MSU wasn't hitting much of anything in the run game. Tailbacks Vick Ballard and LaDarius Perkins combined for 37 yards on 13 carries, and quarterback Chris Relf had 31 yards on 15 carries.
MSU actually went to the pass early and often, getting good gains on bubble screens and the like. It got away from that, however, and the running game never materialized.
2. Finish drives. Four of MSU's 13 offensive possessions made it into Georgia territory, and punter Baker Swedenburg was called upon eight times - he had seven punts, as a bad snap on one attempt gave Georgia the ball at MSU's 14-yard line.
For the second consecutive SEC game, MSU's offense was kept out of the end zone.
3. Beware Boykin. Forget Brandon Boykin, the playmaking cornerback and kick return, MSU should've been more aware of Sanders Commings. Also a corner, Commings had two near interceptions before finally coming up with a pick at his team's own 3-yard line in the second quarter.
He also recovered a fumble.
Chris Wilson. The Bulldogs' defensive coordinator made good adjustments to slow Crowell, and Murray had trouble reading disguised coverages, thus the three INTs. The defense's play in the second half kept hope alive for a comeback.
At 0-3 in the SEC (2-3 overall), MSU faces a steep climb the rest of the way. A bowl bid is still well within reach, but with the issues on offense, it won't be easy.