Missouri at Georgia
When: 6:30 p.m.
Where: Sanford Stadium, Athens, Ga.
TV: SEC Network
Radio: KMBZ (98.1 FM)
Line: Georgia by 30 1/2
The lowdown: Mizzou will fall to 1-5 this season if it loses to the Bulldogs. No. 4 Georgia is the undefeated leader in a very weak SEC East and looks destined to meet Alabama in the conference title game. True freshman quarterback Jake Fromm has seized control of the starting spot from sophomore Jacob Eason, who started as a freshman last year and went down with an injury early into Georgia’s season opener against Appalachian State. Mizzou will hope to build on its offensive success against Kentucky. The Tigers lost to the Wildcats 40-34, but their four touchdowns in that game were more than they had scored in their previous three games combined.
Missouri’s key to success: Stretch the field. In the loss to Kentucky, Drew Lock completed passes for 75, 58, 50 and 48 yards. Two of those went to Emanuel Hall, who has taken a starting role for the Tigers since they dismissed receiver Dimetrios Mason during the bye week. Hall is fast, the sort of deep threat who has the potential to make a few game-changing plays against a Georgia defense that the Tigers will struggle to find consistent success against. The Bulldogs have the country’s second-best scoring defense, fifth-best rushing defense and 10th-best scoring defense.
Georgia’s key to success: More steady quarterback play. Surrounded by so much talent, Fromm has only had to manage games. He has attempted more than 15 passes once this season, but he’s thrown 10 touchdowns to just two interceptions. Missouri is tied for next-to-last in the country in turnover margin, so if Fromm makes mistakes in this game, they will likely be self-inflicted ones that increase Mizzou’s small chance at victory.
Key matchup: Mizzou’s run blocking against Georgia’s defensive front. Lock said Missouri was able to make big plays through the air in the Kentucky game because of the success the Tigers had on the ground against a Wildcat rushing defense that was one of the best in the country going into the contest. Missouri used extra blockers throughout the game to bolster the rushing attack. Georgia has a versatile assortment of players that don’t give up many yards inside the tackles. Mizzou running back Ish Witter ran for 139 yards against Kentucky, but he’s not going to get outside the tackles for a big run. Will sophomore Damarea Crockett, who ran for more than 1,000 yards as a freshman, be able to hold onto the ball and make big plays? Crockett had a costly turnover against Kentucky.
Georgia player to watch: Nick Chubb. This will be the last time Missouri fans will get to watch the senior running back play against the Tigers. They should be thankful for that. Chubb’s first collegiate start came against Missouri in 2014, when star Todd Gurley was suspended. Chubb ran for 143 yards in that 2014 game against Missouri, and this year he leads the SEC with 618 rushing yards despite regularly sitting out near the end of games because Georgia had large leads.
Aaron Reiss’ prediction: Georgia 48, Missouri 21. The Tigers will show some fight early and make a few big plays through the air to set up scores, but Georgia has too much talent to allow Mizzou to pull off a major upset.