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The Southeastern Conference will have its first backs-to-the-wall matchup Saturday night when Georgia visits Mississippi State.

Both of the Bulldogs are 0-2 in conference play following Georgia's 31-24 loss to Arkansas this past weekend and Mississippi State's 29-7 setback at LSU. They are the only SEC teams with 0-2 league marks.

"It's not the start that either team envisioned," MSU coach Dan Mullen said Sunday, "but obviously it's a big game that can turn either team's season around."

Georgia is 0-2 in conference play for the first time since 1993. Mississippi State has dropped its first two league contests for the seventh time since 2001.

The four combined losses by the two Bulldogs have come at the expense of ranked teams (No. 10 Arkansas, No. 12 South Carolina, No. 15 LSU and No. 17 Auburn).

"I know there are a lot of conferences around the country where people have one or two big games that they have to win during their season," Mullen said. "In the SEC, that's every single week. To be a competitor in the SEC, you have to win your home games. It's a huge game for us this week."

Mark Richt's Bulldogs had preseason aspirations of winning the SEC East, which they did three times from 2002-05 but haven't since. They could climb back into the picture the next couple of weeks should Auburn defeat South Carolina on Saturday and Alabama defeat Florida on Oct. 2, but no team has won the East following an 0-2 start.

Florida won the inaugural East crown in 1992 after a 1-2 league opening.

"My guess is that these guys will get right back on the horse and start riding," Richt said. "I think we all want to have a positive result in the win column, and I think everybody is going to fight for that."

For a second consecutive year, the Arkansas-Georgia game produced the Walter Camp Foundation offensive player of the week. Razorbacks quarterback Mallett captured the honor Sunday after throwing for 380 yards and three scores inside Sanford Stadium, and former Bulldogs quarterback Joe Cox won it last year after riddling the Hogs for 375 yards and five touchdowns in Fayetteville.

Richt said after Saturday's game that his team got better, and he reaffirmed that Sunday.

"It's always discouraging to lose any game," he said. "We're not happy about the win-loss record right now, but when you do the job that we do and you coach and teach and give guys assignments and watch the film and see guys improve, then that's an encouraging thing."

Mississippi State had one more first down (17-16) and four more total yards (268-264) than LSU, but Bulldogs quarterbacks Chris Relf and Tyler Russell combined to throw five interceptions. That helped result in LSU having an average starting field position at the MSU 48-yard line, while the average start for the Bulldogs was their own 18.

"We played on a lopsided field all night," Mullen said.

Russell directed State's only scoring drive in Baton Rouge, but Mullen said Sunday that Relf will remain the starter.

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