University of Missouri

Mizzou is a home underdog to No. 2 Georgia but has these factors in its favor

Five Things to Know: Georgia v. Mizzou

Here are five things to know before the No. 3 ranked Georgia Bulldogs take on the Missouri Tigers.
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Here are five things to know before the No. 3 ranked Georgia Bulldogs take on the Missouri Tigers.

Missouri’s game against No. 2 Georgia on Saturday can change the course of the Tigers season should they pull off the upset, but the players are treating it like a big game simply because it is the next one.

“The bigger we make this game the tougher it can get,” quarterback Drew Lock said. “Why not come in and just do your job?”

Both teams enter the game undefeated and while Missouri is currently a 14-point underdog to Georgia, the Tigers have some momentum going into Saturday.

In their 2017 meeting, Missouri kept pace with Georgia on both sides of the ball in Athens until late in the first half.

Missouri came into that game 1-4, fresh off a loss to Kentucky, and while the Tigers ended up losing 53-28, the game did a lot for the six-game winning streak that followed.

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Like the Wildcats the week before, Georgia had no answer for Emanuel Hall. He had a pair of touchdowns as part of four catches for 141 yards and Lock threw for 253 yards with four touchdowns and an interception in the loss, but put up the most points against Georgia in the regular season. Both players have started the season right where they left off in 2017 and could give Georgia’s young secondary problems.

“I think we handled their pass rush really well,” Lock said. “They were known to get to the quarterback and we blocked really well in the first half to where he had the opportunity to let guys run past the normal cover zone. If we can block it up, sometimes we can put a pass to those yard marks.”

Georgia enters Saturday’s game with just one sack, which is last in the country among FBS teams, and Missouri’s offensive line has already done well in pass protection through three games this year.

While Missouri’s defense struggled against Purdue, it held the Bulldogs to a single touchdown in the second half and forced a field goal after a botched punt gave Georgia the ball deep into Missouri territory.

The Tigers’ defense had a regular presence in the backfield and linebacker Cale Garrett picked off Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm, setting up an early Missouri touchdown. And the run defense kept the Bulldogs tandem of Sony Mitchell and Nick Chubb useless for most of the first half.

Defensive line coach Brick Haley said the Tigers’ front seven matched up well last season in Athens by regularly disrupting the line of scrimmage, which made it hard for Georgia’s run game to get any consistency.

“Guys just doing the things they needed to do,” he said. “Attacking the line of scrimmage, trying to change the line of scrimmage, we did a really good job of doing that. We need to be as sound as were last year and better.”

Missouri knows the implications a win on Saturday will bring, as it should get Missouri ranked for the first time under Barry Odom, make Lock a legitimate Heisman contender and give the program a chance at another SEC East title.

Garrett said that while Missouri played better than the score indicated last year in Athens, the Tigers have their own concerns to address after Purdue.

“Everyone wants to give them their best,” Garrett said. “This year it’s about how good can we get one week at a time. If we can bring our best, I like us.”

Alex Schiffer

Alex Schiffer covers University of Missouri athletics for The Star.

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