One week of warm-ups is all Georgia got before it was time to face a real opponent—and although the No. 7 team in the nation was good in its season opener against Buffalo, it will have to turn up the heat in order to beat Missouri.
The Bulldogs, who scored a 45-23 victory over Buffalo in Week 1, will be taking on an SEC foe that destroyed its opponent 62-10 in its first matchup. The Tigers, like Georgia, didn't take on an incredibly formidable opponent in Southeastern Louisiana, but they did limit the Lions to a single touchdown and a field goal while forcing four turnovers.
If that defense can hold strong on Saturday—and the offense can keep rolling—we could be looking at our first big upset of the season. Here's where and when you can watch Georgia and Missouri square off.
Where: Faurot Field, Columbia, Mo.
When: Saturday, September 8 at 7:45 p.m. ET
According to Bovada, No. 7 Georgia is the three-point favorite over Missouri. No surprises there.
The spread is so low because Georgia—despite being a top-10 team facing an unranked opponent—is playing on the road against a team that put up 62 points last week.
Still, you never know how a team like Missouri is going to fare on its home turf against an opponent that isn't completely inept; it could keep up with Georgia, or we could find out that the Tigers are great, as long as they're playing a team that is barely Division I.
Bovada has the over/under at 55. Again, considering the way each of these teams started off the season—by putting up an obscene amount of points—that's not all that surprising. The Tigers aren't exactly expected to score another 62 points, nor are the Bulldogs expected to score 45 against a team that only allowed a touchdown and a field goal last week.
But these two offenses were rolling last week, and we could be looking at a shootout in Week 2.
It's a tough call; it's hard to say whether Georgia is going to pull off a win over an SEC rival on the road so early in the season, or whether Missouri is going to be able to make this one an excruciatingly close game. If I had to bet, my money would be on the over.
- Cornerback Malcolm Mitchell (ankle) is probable for Saturday's game
- Wide receiver Marlon Brown (hamstring) is probable for Saturday's game
- Running back Ken Malcome (hand) is probable for Saturday's game
- Guard Hunter Long (foot) is doubtful for Saturday's game
- Tackle Kolton Houston is out indefinitely after testing positive for a banned substance
- Linebacker Chase Vasser is suspended for the first two games of the season after an arrest for DUI
- Cornerback Sanders Commings is suspended for the first two games of the season due to an arrest for domestic violence
- Linebacker Alec Ogletree is out indefinitely due to a suspension stemming from a failed drug test
- Safety Bacarri Rambo is out indefinitely due to a suspension stemming from a failed drug test
- Defensive lineman Lucas Vincent (pectoral) is probable for Saturday's game
- Offensive lineman Jack Meiners (knee) is questionable for Saturday's game
- Wide receiver Wesley Leftwich is out indefinitely due to food poisoning
- Offensive lineman Travis Ruth (tricep) is out for the season after tearing his left triceps tendon
- Offensive lineman Taylor Chappell (knee) is out for the season after tearing his ACL
- Halfback Henry Josey is out for the season due to a torn ACL
A lot is at stake in this game, for both sides. Georgia obviously needs a big win over an SEC rival in order to justify its top-10 ranking. The Bulldogs were ranked sixth in the preseason poll and actually dropped a spot after failing to tear apart their weak opening opponent, limb from limb.
They need this win—a quality win—in order to cling to life in the top 10. A loss would potentially drop them pretty far in the rankings.
For Missouri, a win would be huge. This is a team that already got a few votes after their season-opening win, so a victory over a top-10 team would almost certainly push them into the Top 25.
Keys for Georgia
Against Buffalo, Georgia's offense was excellent. Quarterback Aaron Murray threw for 258 yards, three touchdowns and zero picks. Freshman running back Todd Gurley rushed for 100 yards, and senior wideout Tavarres King caught six passes for 117 yards and a TD.
The offense needs to be that good again, especially against a defense that looked so strong in its season opener. But the difference for the Bulldogs needs to come on the other side of the ball.
Georgia's defense didn't get off to the start it wanted against the Bulls. It allowed 16 first-half points to Buffalo, but whatever head coach Mark Richt said at halftime worked. Georgia allowed zero third-quarter points, and it did allow one last TD run with less than five minutes remaining in the game, but by then, the win was locked up.
Against a team like the Tigers, who are obviously capable of huge offensive numbers, the Bulldogs need to bring their second-half defense to Columbia.
Keys for Missouri
The Tigers need to do this weekend exactly what they did last Saturday. Every single thing. It's not going to be easy against an SEC team—especially a top-10 SEC team—but this is what the Tigers have to do if they're going to prove that they deserve to be in the conversation this season.
Last week, the Tigers' offense was nearly perfect, and its effort was balanced: Junior quarterback James Franklin threw for 131 yards and a touchdown, and he got immense support from his backfield, which rushed for a total of 261 yards and three touchdowns.
The defense was equally fierce, holding the Lions to 223 total yards and a staggering 1.7 yards per rush. It also forced three fumbles and a pick—but the Tigers can't rely on Georgia to do the same. Instead, the rush defense just needs to be equally solid.
This is a huge opportunity for the Tigers, and one big key for them is going to be finding a way to make sure the expectations and the pressure don't get the best of them.
This is a tough call. You just don't know what each of these teams is capable of. One looked excellent over a terrible opponent in the opener, and the other looked less excellent over a moderately stronger opponent. A questionable top-10 team is playing its first conference road game.
Anything could happen, but I have to take Georgia in the end. The Tigers could be suffering from a case of overconfidence after last week's demolition, and the Bulldogs know how much is at stake for them in this one. They know their defense can't get away with what it did last week, and they'll come to play.