STARKVILLE, Miss. – D.J. Shockley passed for a career-high 312 yards in his first career road start, leading No. 7 Georgia past Mississippi State 23-10.

Georgia (2-0 Southeastern Conference) opened with 4-0 for the third time in coach Mark Richt’s five seasons, and the fifth-year senior quarterback is a big reason why.

Shockley, who’s finally enjoying a chance to start after spending four years as David Greene’s backup, also set career highs with 20 completions and 33 attempts despite gusty, hurricane-related winds and occasional showers.

The soggy conditions didn’t seem to bother Shockley, who surpassed his previous bests of 289 yards passing and 16 completions he set four weeks earlier in a win against Boise State.

After winning his first three starts Between the Hedges, the SEC’s most efficient passer was sharp in his first start on the road: The league’s most productive offense outgained Mississippi State 406-254.

His first touchdown pass on this night was his prettiest, and it came on his first series. He slipped from the grasp of Mississippi State’s Deljuan Robinson, rolled right and hit a wide-open Danny Ware from 28 yards out to give Georgia the lead for good.

Shockley added a 10-yard TD in the second quarter to Leonard Pope, who caught it at about the 4 and dragged Mississippi State’s DeMario Bobo across the goal line.

And his 33-yard pass to Pope on fourth-and-5 set up a 23-yard field goal by Brandon Coutu, the SEC’s leading scorer who entered with 31 points.

Coutu finished with three field goals, adding kicks of 27 and 23 yards for Georgia, which is off next week and can start thinking about its Oct. 8 showdown with No. 10 Tennessee.

This one could have been much more lopsided: Coutu missed field goals of 41 and 53 yards and Georgia lost a fumble inside the Mississippi State 10.

Mississippi State (2-2, 0-2) was looking for its second huge upset of a ranked SEC East team in two seasons under coach Sylvester Croom.

The Bulldogs – who also play No. 3 LSU and at No. 5 Florida in the next two weeks – shocked then-No. 20 Florida last year, and hoped they could catch Georgia looking ahead its game against the Volunteers.

Keith Andrews had Mississippi State believing when he capped the opening drive with a 34-yard field goal. But after that, Georgia made all the plays when they counted.

A tough, focused Georgia defense held Mississippi State to 77 total yards in the first half and never allowed the Bulldogs to get anything going until the outcome was all but decided.

Omarr Conner had a late 4-yard touchdown pass to Eric Butler and finished 19-of-32 for 205 yards for Mississippi State, while leading rusher Jerious Norwood finished with 43 yards and had minus-6 yards in the second half.

AP-ES-09-24-05 2310EDT

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