After an easy home win last week against the Buffalo Bulls, the seventh-ranked Georgia Bulldogs play what could be the biggest game of their season Saturday night against the Missouri Tigers.
Nationally televised and on the road, the Bulldogs will open their in-conference slate in a raucous environment against a Tigers squad that's playing their first game as a member of the SEC.
Those myriad of extenuating circumstances has led many to put Georgia on upset alert this week. Even the oddsmakers have this game closer to expected, with the unranked Missouri squad just 1.5-point underdogs (via Bovada).
With an evenly matched contest on tap, Georgia will look for any advantage it can possibly get. Here's a quick look at the Bulldogs' biggest advantages in preparation for Sunday night's SEC showdown.
Steadiness at Quarterback
Playing on the road in a hostile environment, there is nothing better than a steady hand at quarterback.
After taking some bumps in his first two seasons at the helm, junior Aaron Murray has a shot at proving his big-game worth and getting on the Heisman watch with a strong performance Saturday.
However, most eyes will be focused on Missouri's scintillating quarterback James Franklin.
There's no questioning that Franklin is the more spectacular of the two signal-callers. His dual-threat ability makes him dangerous on every snap, especially against a Georgia team that showed vulnerability against the run last week.
Nevertheless, if the game is as close as advertised, Georgia has a massive advantage behind center. Though Murray has shown a penchant for turning the ball over, his abundance of big-game experience should come in handy.
And with a 251-yard, three touchdown, zero interception performance against Buffalo, Murray may be proving those turnovers are a habit of the past.
Both are great college quarterbacks, but Murray is far more trustworthy.
The Front Seven
For Georgia to have any shot at beating Missouri, the Bulldogs will have to contain Franklin's running ability and force him into pocket-passing situations
That effort will be spearheaded by a veteran front seven led by superstar junior linebacker Jarvis Jones.
An AP All-American in 2011, Jones is widely considered one of the best linebackers in all of college football. Strong against both the run and pass, he's almost a lock to be selected in the first-round of next year's NFL draft if he declares.
However, Missouri will likely scheme to mitigate Jones' effectiveness. That means it'll be imperative for the Bulldogs to get top-shelf performances from the rest of the front seven.
Luckily, the remaining six guys are full of talent. And with Missouri still working to replace the entire right side of the offensive line, the Bulldogs could get pressure early and rattle Franklin.
Slight Experience Edge at Skill Positions
The Missouri offense looked like one of the most explosive units in college football last week, but the performance came against an FCS opponent in Southeastern Louisiana.
In marquee games, coaches often rely on the stars that have brought victory in the past. Unfortunately for Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel, those players are almost non-existent.
Outside of Franklin, the only returning starters that will play Saturday on offense are offensive linemen.
After losing running back Isaiah Crowell to dismissal and wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell to the defense, the same could nearly be said Georgia. However, the replacements for Georgia have far more in-game experience than the ones for Missouri.
And with this game promising to be an explosive contest, look for that slight edge in experience to be the key for a Georgia triumph.
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