#13 Georgia Bulldogs at #23 Missouri Tigers Preview

#13 Georgia Bulldogs at #23 Missouri Tigers Preview

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This Saturday Missouri will play host to Georgia in a game that will play a major role in determining who will win the SEC East. The Tigers currently hold the top spot in the East but they are only 1-0 in conference play.  Georgia enters this matchup in a three way tie for second with Florida and Kentucky.  Georgia’s only loss was to the team the Tigers just beat, South Carolina.  Many experts believe that the winner of this matchup will win the East, especially if it is Missouri, but Kentucky and Florida are not going away without a fight.

This will be the 4th meeting between these two and UGA currently holds a 2-1 edge.  The first of those two wins was in the 1960 Orange bowl.  The second time was in 2012 in Missouri’s first SEC game.  Missouri hosted the then 7th ranked Bulldogs and had a lead late into the 3rd quarter before their lack of depth did them in.  Missouri revenged that loss last year by beating an again 7th ranked Bulldogs team in Athens.  That game was also when Maty Mauk had to come in and take over for an injured James Franklin. That win played a key role in Mizzou’s SEC East Championship last year.  There is no doubt that Mark Richt and the Bulldogs will be seeking their own revenge this year.

We have an insider for both of these teams, so Brett Eddy, our Mizzou insider, will breakdown why he believes the Tigers will win.  Chaz Pike, our Georgia insider, will breakdown why he believes the Bulldogs will bring home a win.

Why Missouri will win


  • Offense – Balance. The Tigers have an extremely balanced attack this year, and still have the big play ability they have had in the past.  Missouri is often considered a wide open pass first offense, but so far in 2014 they have been extremely balanced and run on 55% of their plays.  They still do most of their damage through the air, and the running game is preventing teams from being able to commit to defending the pass.  Maty Mauk has been efficient this season with 14 TDs and 4 INTs.  He struggled early in their last game, but that was mainly due to the fact that they played without two of their top 3 wide receivers, Darius White and Jimmie Hunt.  Mauk still managed to put together 2 touchdown drives in the final 7 minutes to get the narrow victory.  Coach Pinkel is confident that Hunt will return this week, but thinks White will be a game time decision.  The Tiger’s would love to have both guys, but even getting one back will be huge for Mauk.  Hunt has 5 TDs this season on only 16 catches.  We will see a lot of Hansbrough and Murphy on the ground, but the best way to attack UGA is in the secondary.  Mizzou will most likely try to keep things short early with Sasser and the running game to suck in the defense, and then look for them to go over the top with Hunt.


  • Defense – This is where the Tigers are going to win this game. There is no doubt that UGA running back and Heisman Candidate, Todd Gurley, will have a solid game. However, the Tigers run defense looked the best it has all season in their last game, and should be able to prevent Gurley from having a monster game. The pass defense will create major issues for UGA.  Hutson Mason has never seen a pass rush like Mizzou’s. The Tigers are 15th in the nation with 18 sacks this season.  The duel threat they possess in the pass rush of Ray and Golden may be the best in the nation.  Ray is second in the nation with 11.5 tackles for a loss and 8 sacks. Ray is rapidly moving up draft boards this season. This constant pressure is bound to force Mason into a turnover or two.  Georgia is also only converting 37% of their 3rd downs this season which will make it difficult for them to sustain drives.


  • Special Teams – Missouri has a dynamic returner in Marcus Murphy. They are currently 2nd in the nation with an average of 31.1 yards per kick return.  Murphy has not had too many attempts this year because most teams try to avoid kicking to him. This season he has 5 returns for 188 yards and 1 TD.  Look for Murphy to make a big play this week in the return game if given an opportunity.  The area of concern on special teams for Missouri is their kicker, Andrew Baggett. Baggett has struggled since missing a chip shot in double overtime against South Carolina last season. This season he is 4/7 but one miss did come from over 50 yards.
  • Coaching – This is Head Coach Gary Pinkel’s 14th season at Missouri.  He is 106-64 at Missouri and 179-101-1 overall in his 24 year career.  He joins Steve Spurrier as the only coaches who have the most wins for two FBS Schools, the other school is Toledo.  This is the Tigers 3rd season in the SEC.  When they came into the SEC many of the SEC teams laughed and said that the Tigers would never be able to contend in the SEC. However it only took Coach Pinkel 2 years to lead his team to an SEC East Title.  He now has them in excellent position again this season. Pinkel has always had well disciplined teams with excellent morale and the attitude that no player is greater than the team.
  • Intangibles – I would love to say that playing in Missouri is a huge advantage for the Tigers, but their only 2 regular season losses in 2013 and 2014 have come at home.  The advantage may be more from the fact that UGA has only played one road game this season and that was a loss to South Carolina.  Hopefully the Tigers can get up early and make the crowd a factor in this game.  The other key factor in this matchup is experience.  Missouri has a huge edge in that department.  They have numerous players still on the roster from the squad that won the East last year and they know what to expect.

Prediction – Missouri 31  Georgia 27


Why UGA will Win

  • Offense – One name, Gurley. Todd Gurley is the Heisman front runner, and could lead almost any team to victory. He now ranks 3rd all-time in rushing at UGA, and that is a heck of an accomplishment. He did not play against Mizzou last year, and this contributed to Aaron Murray making uncommon mistakes in the loss. In his Freshman SEC debut in 2012, Gurley had 10 rushes for 65 yards and one TD. His 44 yard run in the 4th quarter helped get the dawgs from their 8 yard line to midfield, and helped to keep field position and the lead of 27-20.  He led the team in rushing that night in Missouri’s first SEC game, and he can be that one person that can help the dawgs win this game to take the lead in the SEC East.                                  UGA also has a talented true freshman RB with Nick Chubb. Both Chubb and Gurley are wearing green jerseys this week in practice to prevent injury. Brandon Douglas will have to help this wonderful 1-2 punch this weekend due to Keith Marshall (Gurley’s NC recruit partner) out with an ankle injury, and other true freshman sensation Sony Michel out with a shoulder injury. The Fullback position will also have to help carry the load, and make some key blocks to help win this game.                                                                                                         UGA’s offensive line has done a wonderful job this year with the running game. Left tackle John Theus leads the way for the dawgs by creating holes for the stable of backs. Senior Ben Andrews is a 3 year starter that also is another leader on the field helping with the holes, and trying to make it easier on quarterback Hutson Mason.             One thing the dawgs will need on Saturday is the arm of a quarterback to help the running game against Missouri. Brice Ramsey saw some action against Vandy last week, and Hutson Mason better make use of his time this week. Justin Scott-Wesley and Malcolm Mitchell will return for the 2nd week, and both will hopefully be able to play an entire game. Jonathan Rumph will also hopefully return to help the receiving corps, and true freshman Jeb Blazevich is helping out tremendously on the tight end front.
  • Defense –  Jeremy Pruitt was supposed to bring back the Erk Russell’s Junkyard Dawgs, and at times they have shown that they are like those teams. But, there are times when they are unable to stop opponents. The defense is giving up 335 yards per game which is 4th in the SEC and 31st nationally. Numerous players have been removed from last year’s team due to transferring, and the secondary has lost 3 more players in the last week.  This defense has done what it has to do at the right time, and bends before it breaks. This year they are winning the turnover battle ranking 25th nationally with a +4 in turnover margin. Last year they were -7 , and the offense has only lost one fumble.                                                     The defense is also spending a lot of time on the field this year with the offense having the ball an average of 28:32 per game that ranks 86th nationally. With a defense that is short on depth, the offense needs to help the defense by having the ball longer and letting the defense rest. UGA has a great set of linebackers, and also a solid defensive line. They are able to stop the run, but the secondary has been exposed. The defense is not doing well on 3rddowns this year, and is only stopping their opponents 37.5 percent of the time which is 11th in the SEC and 90th nationally. If the dawgs are going to beat Missouri, they will need to do better on 3rd down conversions by taking care of business on 1st and 2nd downs. The front 7 need to make some long 3rd down situations if they are going to stop Matty Mauk and company. Last year the defense knocked Franklin out of the game, and Mauk came in to beat the dawgs between the hedges.
  • Special Teams-This is an area of huge improvement this year since Coach Richt has delegated this to a single coach rather than by committee. Marshall Morgan set a conference record against South Carolina by completing 20+ in a row of field goals before missing his final 2 for the game. For the season his 5 for 7, and has missed only one extra point.  The punt return team is averaging 11.76 yards per return which is 31st nationally compared to last year’s 122nd (second from last). The dawgs are also doing well with kickoff returns, and Todd Gurley returned one for a TD against Clemson. Colin Barber is doing well this year averaging over 40 yards per punt with a long of 60 yards against Clemson. His punt that was downed at the one yard line against Tennessee helped the defense score a TD, and consequently win that game.
  • Intangibles- UGA beat Missouri 2 years ago, and showed them what “Grown Man Football” was all about. This year, the winner of this game will have a leg up in the SEC east to go to Atlanta for the SEC Championship game. The dawgs are outscoring their opponents 98-39 in the 4th quarter and that is what they did the last time they played in Columbia. They have also out gained their opponents on the ground by 884 yards this year, averaging 7 yards a carry to their opponents 3.1. UGA is 12th in the nation running the ball this year with an average of 288.8 yards per game, but they rank 108th nationally in passing. The dawgs need to find a better balance to control the clock and beat the Tigers.  UGA leads the country in 4th down conversions for the year going 5 for 5. They are also ranked 6th in the country averaging 45 points per game. If they put up 45 points against Missouri on Saturday, they should win the game.
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