The No. 1 Georgia Bulldogs remained undefeated Saturday with a dominant 43-6 win over the Missouri Tigers at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Georgia.
Mizzou starting quarterback Connor Bazelak missed the game with an undisclosed injury, leaving freshmen Tyler Macon and Brady Cook to split the snaps under center.
The swarming Georgia defense took advantage of that inexperience, holding the Tigers to 273 total yards.
Georgia also received solid play from quarterback Stetson Bennett, who threw for 255 yards and two touchdowns, and benefited from the Bulldogs rushing for 168 yards as a team.
The Bulldogs improved to 9-0 overall and 7-0 in the SEC with Saturday's win, while Missouri dropped to 4-5 overall and 1-4 in conference play.
Stetson Bennett, QB, UGA: 13-of-19 for 255 YDS, 2 TD, 0 INT
Brady Cook, QB, MIZZ: 14-of-19 for 78 YDS, 0 TD, 0 INT; 10 CAR for 32 YDS
James Cook, RB, UGA: 9 CAR for 41 YDS, 1 TD
Tyler Badie, RB, MIZZ: 9 CAR for 41 YDS; 5 REC for 10 YDS
Jermaine Burton, WR, UGA: 3 REC for 76 YDS, 1 TD
Tauskie Dove, WR, MIZZ: 4 REC for 84 YDS
Georgia Defense Smothers Freshman-Led Mizzou Offense
As has been the case throughout the season, defense was the hallmark once again for Georgia in Saturday's win over Missouri.
The Tigers were already at a disadvantage entering the game without their starting quarterback, and the Bulldogs didn't let up throughout the contest.
Missouri did manage to get on the board first with a field goal thanks largely to Macon's running ability. However, Georgia took over from there.
It was a special teams play early in the second quarter that energized the Bulldogs, as they scored a safety on a blocked punt:
That play extended the Georgia lead to 9-3 and also ensured that the Bulldogs offense would get the ball back immediately.
Jason Butt of UGASports.com expressed his belief that the safety was a better result than the touchdown:
Kevin Wade of Stealth also chimed in regarding Georgia's impressive play on both defense and special teams:
A Georgia touchdown on the ensuing drive extended the lead to 16-3, and then it was the defense that made a big play to ensure momentum remained on the Dawgs' side.
Georgia stopped Macon on a fourth-down rush attempt, giving the ball back to the offense once again:
The Bulldogs turned that into a field goal and then continued to pour it on and add to the lead as the game wore on.
Ultimately, the Bulldogs allowed just six points in the game, meaning they have allowed 13 or fewer points in every game this season.
Georgia played so well in every phase that it built a huge lead and allowed for JT Daniels to see some action at quarterback in the second half.
Defense will likely be the biggest factor in whether Georgia wins a national championship, but if Daniels plays his way back into the starting conversation at quarterback, he could help give head coach Kirby Smart a more explosive offense as well.
Missouri Run Defense Stout in Lopsided Loss
Little went right for Missouri in Saturday's loss, but one thing the Tigers can hang their hat on is their performance against the run.
With James Cook and Zamir White leading the way, the Bulldogs have enjoyed a great deal of success on the ground throughout the season.
That wasn't necessarily the case Saturday, though, as Mizzou held the Bulldogs to 168 team rushing yards on 33 carries, which equated to a 5.1 yards-per-carry average.
Of that yardage, 37 came on a reverse run by wide receiver Kearis Jackson, which was more of a misdirection play than a traditional run.
Brandon Kiley of BK & Ferrario on 101 ESPN in St. Louis gave the Missouri defense props for stacking up the Georgia running game during the first half after struggling so mightily in that regard throughout the season:
Brandon Kiley @BKSportsTalk
Georgia has 9 carries for 21 yards. It’s okay to give credit. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Mizzou?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Mizzou</a>’s run defense has been hot garbage all year. It’s been outstanding through the first quarter today. <a href="https://t.co/KAgbsc3isb">https://t.co/KAgbsc3isb</a>
KMOV's Brenden Schaeffer was also impressed after the Missouri defense stiffened and held Georgia to a field goal in the red zone during the second quarter:
At one point, Georgia's running backs were averaging around 2.0 yards per carry, as Mizzou was committed to stopping the run:
Both White and Kenny McIntosh averaged less than 2.0 yards per carry in the game, which is no easy task given their talent and that of the Bulldogs offensive line.
By keeping Georgia's running game in check, it forced Bennett to make some plays in the passing game.
Bennett was largely up to the task and the Georgia defense kept Missouri from keeping things close on the scoreboard, but it was an encouraging performance for the Mizzou defense nonetheless.
If nothing else, other teams may try to take a page out of Missouri's book in hopes of Bennett being unable to be the driving force behind the Georgia offense late in the season.
Georgia will look to keep its perfect season rolling next Saturday when it goes on the road to face the Tennessee Volunteers.
Missouri will also be in action next Saturday when it attempts to bounce back in a home game against the South Carolina Gamecocks.