For a while, this looked like the ultimate SEC debut.
Missouri headed into the locker room at half with a one-point lead over Georgia and seemed poised for the upset. Las Vegas pegged Mizzou as only a 2-point underdog, and they looked to be that and more.
The offense was struggling for the most part, but the defense was playing well. The building was electric, and everything seemed to be coming together. They kept the momentum rolling in the 2nd half with a 69-yard L'Damian Washington touchdown grab and it was all coming into place. The upset was on.
And then it all came crashing down.
Georgia answered Missouri’s score with one of its own, got the 2-point conversion to tie the game and then took over what was a back and forth tussle up until that point. Despite the early momentum siding with Mizzou, the Bulldogs finally broke through in a big way.
Aaron Murray kicked his play into gear, Missouri tried a fake punt which failed miserably, and James Franklin threw a key interception that sealed the deal for Missouri. This game wasn’t the blowout the score indicated, although Georgia pulled away at the end.
The Dogs doubled up the Tigers, winning 41-20. The scoreboard told one story, the game told another. Missouri was very much alive in this game, but a few plays here and there made things appear much worse than they actually are.
Missouri will have one night to pick up the pieces, and then it’ll be time to work. A very good Arizona State team comes to town next week and then they’ll be off to South Carolina the week after that. Alabama, Florida, Texas A&M and Tennessee are also on the docket, and there are very few gimmies on the remaining part of their schedule.
This won’t be there only loss in their inaugural SEC season, but the Tigers will be just fine. They showcased tonight that they’re more than capable of hanging with one of the SEC’s best teams and that they will be force, especially at home.
They have to run the ball better, and they will, and averaging 2.6 yards per carry like they did Saturday night won’t be a winning formula. Luckily, that may not happen again for the entire season. Alabama might have something to say about that, but the outlook will be much better.
And while their running game is vital, James Franklin’s progression will be key in the short-term for Mizzou, although it would appear that his shoulder his healthy which is very good news. He will get better, healthier, stronger and more polished and his presence will be integral for Missouri’s success over this season and beyond.
He’s not the most athletically gifted QB in the SEC, but he does have game and is logging very meaningful minutes. He also has Dorial Green-Beckham, the young freshman freak who is still finding his way in the college ranks.
DGB caught only 1 ball for 5 yards against Georgia, although this lack of production won’t be the case for long. His size, speed an athleticism is enough to get excited about in terms of changing the look of this offense overall. He’s raw, as we knew he would be coming in, but he’s a freakish talent.
The team will remain a tough opponent, and why overwhelming success will not come in year one of the SEC, the outlook is bright. Missouri beat out some of the nation’s best to land the nation’s best talent last year, and SEC resources (and the name alone) will only help increase their success.
They will take their lumps, but outside of a handful of teams in the SEC, but who doesn’t? The nation’s most elite conference is a walking land mine, but Missouri doesn’t have to worry about stepping on one.
They are one.