Missouri-Georgia football preview

10/10/2013 2:47 PM

10/10/2013 8:54 PM

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. 31 Murray State W, 58-14
Sept. 7 Toledo W, 38-23
Sept. 21 at Indiana W, 45-28
Sept. 28 Arkansas State W, 41-19
Oct. 5 at Vanderbilt W, 51-28
Saturday at Georgia 11 a.m.
Oct. 19 Florida 11:21 a.m.
Oct. 26 South Carolina TBA
Nov. 2 Tennessee TBA
Nov. 9 at Kentucky TBA
Nov. 23 at Mississippi TBA
Nov. 30 Texas A&M TBA

GEORGIA (4-1, 3-0 SEC)

Date Opponent Result/time
Aug. 31 at Clemson L, 38-35
Sept. 7 South Carolina W, 41-30
Sept. 21 North Texas W, 45-21
Sept. 28 LSU W, 44-41
Oct. 5 at Tennessee W, 34-31 (OT)
Saturday Missouri 11 a.m.
Oct. 19 at Vanderbilt 11 a.m.
Nov. 2 vs. Florida* TBA
Nov. 9 Appalachian State TBA
Nov. 16 at Auburn TBA
Nov. 23 Kentucky TBA
Nov. 30 at Georgia Tech TBA

*in Jacksonville, Fla.

MISSOURI OFFENSE

P No. Player Ht. Wt. Yr.
WR 85 Marcus Lucas 6-5 220 Sr.
WR 15 Dorial Green-Beckham 6-6 225 So.
LT 68 Justin Britt 6-6 315 Sr.
LG 61 Max Copeland 6-3 300 Sr.
C 77 Evan Boehm 6-3 315 So.
RG 60 Connor McGovern 6-4 310 So.
RT 65 Mitch Morse 6-6 305 Jr.
TE 81 Eric Waters 6-5 245 Sr.
WR 2 L’Damian Washington 6-4 205 Sr.
QB 1 James Franklin 6-2 230 Sr.
TB 20 Henry Josey 5-10 190 Jr.
K 99 Andrew Baggett 6-1 215 So.

MISSOURI DEFENSE

P No. Player Ht. Wt. Yr.
DE 52 Michael Sam 6-2 255 Sr.
DT 89 Matt Hoch 6-5 295 Jr.
NG 96 Lucas Vincent 6-2 305 Jr.
DE 47 Kony Ealy 6-5 275 Jr.
LB 10 Kentrell Brothers 6-1 240 So.
LB 48 Andrew Wilson 6-3 240 Sr.
LB 8 Donovan Bonner 6-1 245 Sr.
CB 31 E.J. Gaines 5-11 195 Sr.
FS 17 Matt White 6-0 195 Sr.
SS 9 Braylon Webb 6-0 205 Jr.
CB 7 Randy Ponder 5-10 195 Sr.
P 92 Christian Brinser 6-2 200 Jr.

GEORGIA OFFENSE

P No. Player Ht. Wt. Yr.
WR 27 Rhett McGowan 6-0 180 Sr.
LT 72 Kenarious Gates 6-5 327 Sr.
LG 64 Dallas Lee 6-4 295 Sr.
C 61 David Andrews 6-2 295 Jr.
RG 68 Chris Burnette 6-2 314 Sr.
RT 75 Kolton Houston 6-5 280 Jr.
TE 88 Arthur Lynch 6-5 254 Sr.
WR 31 Chris Conley 6-3 206 Jr.
QB 11 Aaron Murray 6-1 208 Sr.
FB 48 Quayvon Hicks 6-2 257 So.
TB 3 Todd Gurley 6-1 232 So.
K 13 Marshall Morgan 6-3 200 So.

GEORGIA DEFENSE

P No. Player Ht. Wt. Yr.
DE 47 Ray Drew 6-5 276 Jr.
NT 56 Garrison Smith 6-3 299 Sr.
DE 58 Sterling Bailey 6-3 282 So.
LB 84 Leonard Floyd 6-4 220 Fr.
LB 51 Ramik Wilson 6-2 232 Jr.
LB 52 Amarlo Herrera 6-2 244 Jr.
LB 59 Jordan Jenkins 6-3 246 So.
CB 6 Shaq Wiggins 5-10 165 Fr.
FS 28 Tray Matthews 6-0 196 Fr.
SS 25 Josh Harvey-Clemons 6-2 214 So.
CB 5 Damian Swann 5-11 178 Jr.
P 32 Collin Barber 6-2 200 So.

Tod Palmer, tpalmer@kcstar.com

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