The Missouri Tigers were one of the two new teams in the SEC last season, but did not make the impact they would have liked, as they finished with a 5-7 overall record, 2-6 record in the conference. So the expectations for the Tigers were low coming into 2013.
The Tigers will face the Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday. Will it be an easy win for the Mark Richt’s group? Absolutely not, because the Tigers will come into the game as one of the only two undefeated teams in the conference. In fact, if the Bulldogs aren’t careful, the Tigers could come in and pull the upset.
Missouri has started the season 5-0 and is coming off a 51-28 win against Vanderbilt in its SEC opener. They dominated from start to finish against a Vanderbilt team that was expected to make strides in the conference this year.
What has benefited the Tigers to get off to a fast start is the first four games they played were against non-conference opponents such as Murray State, Toledo, Indiana and Arkansas State. But beating a team like Vanderbilt convincingly on the road shows that the Tigers aren’t pushovers in the SEC.
The one thing they will have to improve on is their defense. The Tigers have given up over 400 yards per game and 293 of those yards have been through the air. But they have only given up 118 yards per game on the ground and 22 points per game.
The real reason the Tigers have been playing good football is quarterback James Franklin. The signal-caller for Missouri has thrown for 1,407 yards, 13 touchdowns and three interceptions in five games. He is second in the SEC in total offense and has engineered an offense that scores 46 points per game.
Franklin has to be licking his chops for the game against the Bulldogs because the defense for Georgia has been struggling all year long. Not only have the Bulldogs given up 32 points per game, they have surrendered 264 yards per game in the air.
So the best defense the Bulldogs have to offer the Tigers is their offense. Despite the injuries to Keith Marshall, Justin Scott-Wesley and Michael Bennett in the Tennessee game, the Bulldogs found a way to win thanks in large part to Aaron Murray.
He was able to put together a game-tying drive which led to the overtime win. As much as the skill players contribute to the offense, it’s Murray that makes it go, and if he is able to have a big game against the Tigers, that should lead to a win.
But the key for the Bulldogs is to get to fast start and not let the Tigers think they have a shot. The Bulldogs were able to jump to a 17-3 lead against the Vols last week, but Tennessee was able to get back in the ball game with a couple of big plays in the second half such as the blocked punt and the fourth-down conversions in the final Vols drive during the fourth quarter.
Georgia can’t have the special teams breakdowns or the miss assignments on defense like they had against Tennessee.
If the Bulldogs score 40 points against the Tigers, they will come away with a win. It’s not certain if Todd Gulrey will play or not as he is listed as doubtful for the contest. Regardless, Murray has the ability to make his players around him better, which should lead to another game where the offense scores at least 35 points.
But if they don’t stay aggressive and get into a lull like they did against Tennessee, the Tigers will leave Athens with the biggest win in the history of the program.