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.
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.
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.
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)
|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. 9||at Kentucky||TBA|
|Nov. 23||at Mississippi||TBA|
|Nov. 30||Texas A&M||TBA|
GEORGIA (4-1, 3-0 SEC)
|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)|
|Oct. 19||at Vanderbilt||11 a.m.|
|Nov. 2||vs. Florida*||TBA|
|Nov. 9||Appalachian State||TBA|
|Nov. 16||at Auburn||TBA|
|Nov. 30||at Georgia Tech||TBA|
*in Jacksonville, Fla.
Tod Palmer, email@example.com