Things were touch-and-go for a while, but our Manic-Depressive Previewers did indeed make it back from Jacksonville in one piece -- well, two pieces -- albeit different states of disrepair. Depressive Doug had the wherewithal to sit down and start researching New Mexico State's run defense; Manic Doug, well, we're not too sure about him yet.
Depressive Doug: I'm starting the preview in two minutes, guy. That's one hundred and twenty seconds. If you're not down here by then, this is just gonna be me reciting the lengths of New Mexico State's kickoff returns this season. And believe you me, there've been a bunch of 'em.
Manic Doug: Good God, seriously? We beat Florida and no sooner do we get home than you're trying to harsh my buzz by making me talk about a low-level WAC team?
DD: Well, if it helps, I'm starting to rethink that decision. You sound terrible. Are you still that hung over?
MD: "Hung over" implies I stopped drinking at some point. But this celebration's got a ways to go, bro-ham. [pops the top off a beer bottle, takes a noisy slug]
DD: [heavy sigh] Well, if you can tear yourself away from your 12-pack of St. Pauli Girl for just a few minutes, we can knock this out and you can go back to waterboarding your liver.
MD: Fine. So all right, what have we got? New Mexico State? They're 3-5? OK, we put the backups in at halftime and win 55-7. We done here?
DD: Uh . . . apparently you haven't been apprised of our running back situation.
MD: Richard Samuel's surgery? Tough break for the kid, he was a beast in the second half against Florida, but we get him back for the bowl game, right?
DD: Oh, so you haven't heard. Well, this is going to be a treat. Isaiah Crowell's suspended for violating team rules --
MD: Hey, at least it wasn't a traffic violation. Not like we'll need him that badly, though, we still got Carlton --
DD: Thomas? Also suspended, same offense. And Ken Malcome.
[long pause as Manic Doug puts it all together]
MD: So do we have any running backs left?
DD: Yes. Brandon Harton, former walk-on, looks like he'll get the start, with current walk-on Kyle Karempelis backing him up.
[another long pause]
MD: Karempelis? What's that, Greek?
DD: I assure you I don't know.
[yet another long pause]
MD: OK, then I'll need to modify my prediction. Georgia 49, New Mexico State 7.
DD: Glad to see you're taking this seriously.
MD: What? So they're walk-ons. Trust me, New Mexico State would offer our walk-ons scholarships without even taking time to blink. You know where the Aggies' run defense is ranked nationally? A hundred and eleventh, and that's against a WAC schedule. They play a whole season of teams we'd call body-bag opponents and are still giving up more than 200 rushing yards a game. Mr. Harton, Mr. Karempelis, go with God, y'all should have a fine day.
DD: So you're not worried about this. At all.
MD: Maybe you didn't hear me: New. Mexico. State.
DD: We're still starting walk-ons at running back. And we won't have Malcolm Mitchell to throw to, or Rantavious Wooten . . .
MD: So basically what you're saying is we're practically starting our second string on offense? Well, whoopee: We outscored Coastal Carolina 21-0 after pulling nearly all of our starters on offense.
DD: You can't seriously think New Mexico State is on the same level as a mediocre D-IAA, though.
MD: They're not far from it. Gave up 466 yards in a loss to San Jose State, including a 200-yard day by a single running back. Gave up 428 in a win over New Mexico, who we all know is terrible. Gave up more than 200 rushing yards to Hawaii, who we all know would throw bombs on every single down if they thought they could get away with it. And gave up nearly 700 total yards to a Colin Kaepernick-less Nevada team. I'm telling you, with the offensive line we've got, we should be able to pull random guys out of the stands and keep moving the ball on them.
DD: OK, let's assume everything you're saying is true -- which, for the record, I don't. You've also got the psychological factors -- our guys have had to hear about the Crowell controversy all week long. Plus our defense always seems to play like crap after we beat Florida, as if we're still hung over from the celebration, something you should know plenty about. Forty-five points to Auburn in 1997. Thirty-four to Troy in 2007 . . .
MD: . . . And a 62-17 beatdown of Kentucky in 2004 that you conveniently glossed over while you were reaching back to dig nuggets from previous coaches' records.
DD: Look, even with our top four running backs riding the pine for whatever reason, nobody's going to sit there and say we're not still the more talented team. But we're sandwiched in between a big win over Florida and a revenge game against Auburn that could earn us the SEC East title, and we're doing it shorthanded. How can you not be worried about this?
MD: Before I answer, let's get one thing cleared up: You're not actually saying we're gonna lose, are you?
DD: No, I don't think our situation is that dire. But they're not great. And just so you know, New Mexico State isn't some joke on offense. They've got a top-20 passing attack that's good enough to sneak some big plays past us if we're still mentally celebrating the Cocktail Party win, and they've already managed one road win at a BCS-conference team this season --
MD: Mmm, yeah, Minnesota.
DD: Dude, I've asked you nicely on a number of occasions, don't make that wanking gesture around me. It's crass.
MD: So's comparing us to Minnesota. Why don't you go ahead and make your score prediction and stop embarrassing both of us.
DD: All right, fine. I think Harton and Karempelis and whoever else we put back there at running back will look decent, but not so incredible that we forget about Crowell, Thomas or Samuel. I think we'll play down to the level of the opponent on defense like we're known to do, meaning this game will still be pretty close at halftime -- perhaps as close as a single score. I don't think we truly start pulling away until the end of the third quarter, and we end up winning 37-27 and making everyone really regret having driven all the way to Athens for the game.
MD: Ten points? When Vegas has us by 34 even after all the running back suspensions? Look, I'll amend my score prediction again if it'll make you feel better, but we're still covering that spread. Georgia 42, New Mexico State 7, and at least one of our no-name running backs gets over 100 rushing yards.
DD: Fine. That means our predictions average out to . . . Bulldogs 40, Aggies 17, not a cover but still fairly convincing, at least on the surface. You happy with that?
MD: Yeah, I'll live. I'd be happier with a venti mocha and an apple fritter from Starbucks, though. And a few Advil if you've got some.
DD: Well, the Advil's in the medicine cabinet and the car keys are on the coffee table. You know how to get there.