Saturday was one of those picturesque college football days in the South. Bulldog and Tiger fans filled Georgia’s campus in Athens for pregame tailgating and revelry amongst the fall colors and old buildings.
Sanford Stadium had a hot crowd for a game under the lights in one of the SEC’s classic venues, “Between the Hedges.”
All that was missing was a competitive game. Georgia illustrated the gulf between the two programs, winning 27-0. Missouri (5-5, 2-4 in SEC) struggled to do much of anything on offense. The Tigers have been shut out twice in the last 17 seasons, and both times happened against Georgia (8-1, 5-1 in SEC), on Saturday and a 34-0 loss in 2014.
Few, if any, Tiger fans expected Missouri to win this game, but most probably hoped for more signs of life from the team than they got.
It’s hard to describe, but this is what kept coming to mind on the chilly metal bleachers in the corner of Sanford Stadium: Missouri wants to win, Georgia needs to win. Georgia has an enormous fanbase of frenzied fans and donors. It’s a year-round lifestyle.
Of course, Missouri has a lot of great fans and people who back the program in a big way financially. But getting more people like that, more people to be more interested in the program could help.
Winning helps with that. But also commitment and support lead to winning. College football is a sport that favors its established powers, and Georgia enjoys huge recruiting advantages just because of where it is located, amid lot of top-level recruits.
But college football is also a wild and unpredictable endeavor, as you might expect from a sport consisting of players in their late teens and early 20s. South Carolina, a team Missouri crushed, won at Georgia this year. Underdogs that catch a few breaks, play hard, are coached well and make the most of their opportunities can do remarkable things.
Missouri failed to even create many chances Saturday, while having to play with their backup quarterback, Taylor Powell, due to an injury to Kelly Bryant. The Tiger offense seemed out of rhythm, and couldn’t connect on some big throws that would have made it much more of a game.
Missouri’s defense battled hard, but the task was overwhelming, trying to hold off Georgia’s very capable offense again and again while the Tiger offense was not able to sustain drives.
Now Missouri returns home to face Florida (11 a.m. on CBS). The Tigers are 5-0 at home this season, but the three straight road losses crushed optimism. The Gators (8-2, 5-2 in SEC) are coming off a dominating shutout win over Vanderbilt.
Missouri’s offense has gotten a lot worse in recent games, and they have to find a way to for starters sustain some drives if they’re going to pull the upset of Florida. It could be a thin crowd at Faurot Saturday, but hopefully it’s a lively one because the Tigers could really use a win.