Missouri vs Georgia: Bulldogs' Passing Attack Will Be Enough to Avoid Upset

Kyle NewportFeatured ColumnistOctober 11, 2013

ATHENS, GA - SEPTEMBER 7: Aaron Murray #11 of the Georgia Bulldogs warms up during the game against the South Carolina Gamecocks at Sanford Stadium on September 7, 2013 in Athens, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

The Missouri Tigers are off to a great start, but their inability to stop Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray will cost them a signature victory.

No. 25 Missouri sits at 5-0 entering its showdown with No. 7 Georgia. The Tigers are the only undefeated team remaining in the SEC East, and they join Alabama as the conference's only teams without a loss. Their biggest wins have come against Indiana, Toledo and Vanderbilt. Those are solid victories, but the Tigers have not gone up against anyone close to Georgia's level.

Missouri went 3-1 out of conference play last year before falling apart in its first season in the SEC. The Tigers went only 2-6 in conference play last season, and this will be their second game in SEC play this year. 

In order to pull off a huge upset in Athens, Ga., the Tigers will have to play a perfect game. However, their biggest weakness, pass defense, will cost them a chance to keep up with the Bulldogs. Out of 123 teams in Division I, Missouri ranks 113th in pass defense. It has allowed an average of 293.8 passing yards per game.

That's a bad sign given that Missouri will face Murray this week.

ATHENS, GA - SEPTEMBER 21: Aaron Murray #11 of the Georgia Bulldogs passes against the North Texas Mean Green at Sanford Stadium on September 21, 2013 in Athens, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Murray threw for 242 yards and three touchdowns against Mizzou last year. Now, he is playing at an even higher level.

He has thrown for at least 298 yards in four the team's five games, and he has at least three touchdowns through the air in each of the last four games.

The senior quarterback leads the SEC with 306.8 passing yards per game and has 14 touchdowns to only three interceptions. His counterpart, Missouri's James Franklin, has been sensational this season. The Tigers' senior quarterback ranks among the nation's leaders in total offense.

However, their schedules have been very different. The Bulldogs narrowly lost at then-No. 8 Clemson to start the season but responded by knocking off then-No. 6 South Carolina and then-No. 6 LSU. They have been tested early and often this season, and Murray has put up phenomenal numbers against top teams.

Now, the senior quarterback will get a chance to face one of the nation's worst pass defenses.

Opposing teams have thrown for at least 300 yards in three games against the Tigers this season. Murray will be the best quarterback they have seen so far, and he will be able to move the ball at will.

Georgia has not been held under 34 points in any game this season, and it has averaged 39.8 points per game. Missouri has averaged 46.6 points per game this year, but it will have a tough time keeping up with Georgia.

COLUMBIA, MO - SEPTEMBER 28:  Wide receiver Julian Jones #7 of the Arkansas State Red Wolves catches Arkansas State Red Wolves pass in the end zone for Arkansas State Red Wolves touchdown as defensive back E.J. Gaines #31 of the Missouri Tigers defends du
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The Bulldogs escaped Knoxville with an overtime victory. After coming so close to being upset, they will not overlook the Tigers this week. Georgia nearly saw its national championship hopes disappear last week, so look for the Bulldogs to come out strong.

This is a classic matchup between a team that has been tested and a team that has benefited from a weak schedule. Unfortunately for the Tigers, they haven't been able to stop any opposing quarterback.

Georgia is 4-1 overall and 3-0 in conference play. It has already played three Top 10 teams this year and has shown the ability to win shootouts. Both quarterbacks have the ability to put up points, but Murray's ability to take care of the football and torch a defense will be too much for Missouri.

Although the Tigers may have the edge in uniforms, their pass defense will have them on the wrong side of the scoreboard.


*All stats are courtesy of NCAA.com