As horrendous as Missouri’s last two games were, this is the kind of game you get excited for. November is the most important month of the college football regular season. The winner of Saturday’s game is in the driver’s seat to win the SEC East division.
Missouri (5-3, 2-2 in SEC) is of course a big underdog. Georgia (7-1, 4-1 in SEC) is one of the top teams in the nation, and the Bulldogs are coming off a 24-17 win in their rivalry game with Florida. Perhaps there is a bit of a letdown factor in play for Georgia after a win in that anticipated game, and Missouri is viewed as less threatening, as is often the case when you rack up back-to-back losses to Vanderbilt and Kentucky. On the flip side, Missouri has had two weeks to prepare for this game off the bye week. In other words, the Tigers may be the underdog, but they get about as much schedule luck as you could hope for here.
The game will be played under the lights at Sanford Stadium, Georgia’s big home stadium affectionately known as “Between the Hedges” for the hedges that line the playing field. Athens is a classic Southern college town, with a beautiful campus and a charming downtown area. This is a great setting for a big football game weekend. This is what Missouri dreamed of when the Tigers made the move to the SEC.
Since joining the conference, Missouri has struggled against Georgia. Obviously the Dawgs have fielded some really good teams since the Tigers have been in the SEC. Missouri has beaten each of the other SEC East schools at least three times, but the Tigers have just one win against Georgia, the epic win in Athens in 2013.
Missouri is a two-touchdown underdog in this game, and Tiger fans are understandably not feeling too confident at the moment. But what would it take for Missouri to pull the upset? Is it possible? Georgia’s offense has leaned more on the running game, and running back D’Andre Swift is tremendous. Quarterback Jake Fromm has been a little underwhelming this year, relative to expectations, but he made some big throws against Florida. He might just be more focused on avoiding big mistakes, given his team usually has a talent advantage.
If Missouri can keep Fromm from connecting on downfield passes, the Tigers have a chance. Of course, the Tiger offense needs to find its stride again, maybe get tight end Albert Okwuegbunam more involved. Kelly Bryant needs to be healthy.
Even with that, this will be a tough game to win. But there is so much for Missouri to play for here, taking the lead in the division and saving their season after some pretty bad losses. Regardless of the result, the Tigers need to have a strong, competitive effort here.
By Benjamin Herrold