On Saturday evening, the Georgia Bulldogs and the Missouri Tigers will do battle at Sanford Stadium. This should be a big SEC matchup because it features the two teams that won the last four SEC East titles.
However, by the way things have looked for both teams recently, there’s a very good chance that neither one of them will make it to the Georgia Dome in December.
But they are not mathematically out of it yet, so this game is clearly a must-win for both teams. Missouri and Georgia have talent on both sides of the ball, but they have not been able to put together four quarters of good football lately—especially Georgia, who got blown out by Alabama almost two weeks ago and got outscored by Tennessee 28-7 in the second half last Saturday.
Date: Saturday Oct. 17, 2015
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Place: Sanford Stadium, Athens, Georgia
TV: SEC Network
Radio: Georgia Bulldogs Radio Network, Tiger Network, Sirius/XM 83/190
Spread: Georgia is favored by 17 points, according to OddsShark.com
When Missouri Has the Ball
Missouri has had serious issues moving the ball and scoring points this season. The Tigers rank last in the SEC in total offense (311.5 yards per game), and they also rank last in the conference in scoring (18 points per game). The Tigers have scored more than 30 points once this season, and that was against Southeast Missouri State in the season opener.
With quarterback Maty Mauk suspended, Drew Lock has been playing full time the last two weeks, and he’s been okay. He threw for 136 yards and two touchdowns in the win over South Carolina, but he had his struggles against Florida as he threw for 151 yards and two interceptions.
Another beauty of a throw from Drew Lock. https://t.co/osLrNiRB8A— SEC Country (@SEC_Country_) October 7, 2015
The Tigers are going up against a Georgia defense that looks good on paper but has not lived up to expectations so far this season. In the last two games, the Bulldogs have given up 76 points and over 900 yards of offense. Missed tackles, missed assignments and defensive line struggles have all played a part in the Bulldogs' woes on defense recently.
What’s even worse is on Saturday they will be without linebacker Jordan Jenkins, who is out with a hip injury, according to Seth Emerson of Dawgnation.com
When Georgia Has the Ball
The offense for the Bulldogs will be much different from here on out, as they will be without running back Nick Chubb for the rest of the season due to a torn PCL. He was a big reason the Bulldogs rushed for 231 yards per game and scored 37 points per game.
With the loss of Chubb, Sony Michel will carry the load. He was solid against Tennessee last week, rushing for 145 yards on 22 carries.
Even if the Bulldogs don’t miss a beat without Chubb, they have to throw the ball down the field consistently in order to win, which is something that quarterback Greyson Lambert has struggled to do in the last two weeks. Lambert did throw for two touchdowns last Saturday against Tennessee, but he only completed 15 of his 32 passes. And the Alabama game was a disaster, as he went 10-of-24 for 86 yards and one interception.
It’s not going to get any easier, because the Tigers boast what could be the best defense in the SEC. The Tigers are ranked first in scoring defense (13.5 points per game), second in total defense (275 yards per game) and first in pass defense (163 yards per game). The Tigers defense is led by linebacker Kentrell Brothers, who leads the SEC with 74 tackles, and defensive end Walter Brady is second in the conference with six sacks.
Player to Watch for Missouri: Russell Hansbrough
One of the reasons Missouri’s offense has struggled, other than the inconsistent quarterback play, is running back Russell Hansbrough has been dealing with an ankle injury. According to Tod Palmer of the Kansas City Star, Hansbrough was not 100 percent when the Tigers took on Florida last week, and he may not be 100 percent for the rest of the season.
Hansbrough rushed for 1,084 yards and 10 touchdowns last season. This year, he has only rushed for 166 yards on 33 carries due to the ankle injury.
Palmer also noted that Hansbrough has gotten stronger each game, and he should be in great shape to face Georgia. If that’s the case, the Tigers will get a big spark on offense this Saturday.
Player to Watch for Georgia: Sony Michel
Now that Chubb is out for the season, Michel will be involved in the offense more than ever before.
As it was mentioned earlier, the sophomore running back had a big game for the Bulldogs running the ball, but he is also a dangerous receiver, as he’s second on the team with 12 catches for 174 yards and three touchdowns.
The one thing he needs to do is hold onto the football. Michel fumbled a kickoff return last week to help Tennessee make its comeback, and he had another fumble later in the game that went out of bounds.
Asking Michel to carry the offense might be too much because Lambert needs to play better in order for the Bulldogs to get out of their two-game losing skid. But if Michel is not effective running the ball, the Bulldogs will be in for a long night.
Final Score: Georgia 28, Missouri 17
Both teams need a win in order to stay in the SEC race. But the Bulldogs are in dire need of a win because of the way they have played the last two weeks.
Georgia is the better team, but they won’t cover the 17-point spread. Missouri’s defense will be the reason this game will be close because it will be the best defense the Bulldogs have faced all season. However, because of Michel, Malcolm Mitchell and a steady offensive line, the Bulldogs should be able to make enough plays to come away with their fifth win of the season.