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Missouri-Georgia football preview

  • Published Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013, at 6:33 p.m.
  • Updated Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013, at 8:54 p.m.

When/where: 11 a.m. Saturday at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Ga.

TV/radio: ESPN; KMBZ (980 AM, 98.1 FM)

The series: Georgia leads 2-0

The line: Georgia by 8 1/2

What’s at stake

National relevance for Missouri. With a win, the Tigers would become legitimate contenders, perhaps in front-runners, in the chase for the SEC East title. That also puts coach Gary Pinkel’s crew in the national championship hunt, albeit still on the outskirts of that conversation. It would be shades of 2007.

Cheers if …

Missouri can get pressure on Aaron Murray. The Bulldogs’ quarterback is bound to make a few plays, but the Tigers need to rough Murray up and confuse him with the different fronts and looks it deploys, perhaps even creating an interception or two. That would ensure Missouri has a shot in the fourth quarter.

Jeers if …

The offense bogs down. Until last week, Missouri had gone through mid-game lulls on offense in three straight games. Of course, against Vanderbilt, the Tigers scored on nine of 11 possessions not counting a kneeldown at the end of the first half. That kind of consistency might be needed again to keep pace with Georgia’s potent attack.

Three things about Georgia

1 The Bulldogs are banged up on offense. Wide receivers Malcolm Mitchell, Justin Wesley-Scott and Michael Bennett are out along with tailback Keith Marshall, while leading rusher Todd Gurley will be limited because of an ankle sprain if he plays.

2 Defensively, the Bulldogs rank last in the Southeastern Conference in scoring, giving up 32.2 points per game, and seem particularly vulnerable against the pass. Preventing quarterback James Franklin from duplicating the success Tajh Boyd, Connor Shaw and Zach Mettenberger have had will be critical.

3 Through five games, the Bulldogs have struggled mightily on third down. Georgia ranks 12th in the SEC, converting only 37.5 percent of the time on third down, and ranks dead last defensively, allowing opponents to move the chains 44.0 percent of the time.

Key matchup

Missouri’s offensive line vs. Georgia’s front seven: Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones dominated a crippled Missouri offensive line last season during a 41-20 win. The Tigers, of course, are healthier up front and playing considerably better, which must continue against the Bulldogs’ 3-4 front. Georgia’s strength remains its linebackers led by Jordan Jenkins, Ramik Wilson and Amarlo Herrera.

Tod Palmer’s pick: Missouri, 42-38

Lately, all Georgia plays are shootouts, so why would this game be different? Except maybe this time Missouri quarterback James Franklin will engineer the late game-winning drive against an inexperienced secondary that starts two freshman, while Aaron Murray watches helplessly from the sideline.

MISSOURI (5-0, 1-0 SEC)

Date Opponent Result/time
Aug. 31Murray StateW, 58-14
Sept. 7ToledoW, 38-23
Sept. 21at IndianaW, 45-28
Sept. 28Arkansas StateW, 41-19
Oct. 5at VanderbiltW, 51-28
Saturdayat Georgia11 a.m.
Oct. 19Florida11:21 a.m.
Oct. 26South CarolinaTBA
Nov. 2TennesseeTBA
Nov. 9at KentuckyTBA
Nov. 23at MississippiTBA
Nov. 30Texas A&MTBA

GEORGIA (4-1, 3-0 SEC)

Date Opponent Result/time
Aug. 31at ClemsonL, 38-35
Sept. 7South CarolinaW, 41-30
Sept. 21North TexasW, 45-21
Sept. 28LSUW, 44-41
Oct. 5at TennesseeW, 34-31 (OT)
SaturdayMissouri11 a.m.
Oct. 19at Vanderbilt11 a.m.
Nov. 2vs. Florida*TBA
Nov. 9Appalachian StateTBA
Nov. 16at AuburnTBA
Nov. 23KentuckyTBA
Nov. 30at Georgia TechTBA

*in Jacksonville, Fla.

MISSOURI OFFENSE

P No. Player Ht. Wt. Yr.
WR85Marcus Lucas6-5220Sr.
WR15Dorial Green-Beckham6-6225So.
LT68Justin Britt6-6315Sr.
LG61Max Copeland6-3300Sr.
C77Evan Boehm6-3315So.
RG60Connor McGovern6-4310So.
RT65Mitch Morse6-6305Jr.
TE81Eric Waters6-5245Sr.
WR2L’Damian Washington6-4205Sr.
QB1James Franklin6-2230Sr.
TB20Henry Josey5-10190Jr.
K99Andrew Baggett6-1215So.

MISSOURI DEFENSE

P No. Player Ht. Wt. Yr.
DE52Michael Sam6-2255Sr.
DT89Matt Hoch6-5295Jr.
NG96Lucas Vincent6-2305Jr.
DE47Kony Ealy6-5275Jr.
LB10Kentrell Brothers6-1240So.
LB48Andrew Wilson6-3240Sr.
LB8Donovan Bonner6-1245Sr.
CB31E.J. Gaines5-11195Sr.
FS17Matt White6-0195Sr.
SS9Braylon Webb6-0205Jr.
CB7Randy Ponder5-10195Sr.
P92Christian Brinser6-2200Jr.

GEORGIA OFFENSE

P No. Player Ht. Wt. Yr.
WR27Rhett McGowan6-0180Sr.
LT72Kenarious Gates6-5327Sr.
LG64Dallas Lee6-4295Sr.
C61David Andrews6-2295Jr.
RG68Chris Burnette6-2314Sr.
RT75Kolton Houston6-5280Jr.
TE88Arthur Lynch6-5254Sr.
WR31Chris Conley6-3206Jr.
QB11Aaron Murray6-1208Sr.
FB48Quayvon Hicks6-2257So.
TB3Todd Gurley6-1232So.
K13Marshall Morgan6-3200So.

GEORGIA DEFENSE

P No. Player Ht. Wt. Yr.
DE47Ray Drew6-5276Jr.
NT56Garrison Smith6-3299Sr.
DE58Sterling Bailey6-3282So.
LB84Leonard Floyd6-4220Fr.
LB51Ramik Wilson6-2232Jr.
LB52Amarlo Herrera6-2244Jr.
LB59Jordan Jenkins6-3246So.
CB6Shaq Wiggins5-10165Fr.
FS28Tray Matthews6-0196Fr.
SS25Josh Harvey-Clemons6-2214So.
CB5Damian Swann5-11178Jr.
P32Collin Barber6-2200So.

Tod Palmer, tpalmer@kcstar.com

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