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Week 7 - Missouri at Georgia
Posted Oct 9, 2013

Week 7 Fearless Predictions & Preview - Missouri at Georgia

Missouri (5-0) at Georgia (4-1) Oct. 5 12:00, ESPN

Why You Should Give A Hoot: You ready for some big boy football? Former Missouri defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson called out Georgia before last year’s inaugural SEC game in Columbia, and Jarvis Jones and company were more than happy to welcome the new guy into the big time with a dominant 41-20 win. But this is a far, far different Tiger team this time around facing a limping Bulldog squad.

Georgia might have beaten Tennessee in a thriller, and it might still be knee deep in the national title hunt despite the opening day loss to Clemson, but the whole Next Man Up thing needs to kick in full force with running back Todd Gurley still hurting after missing the game against the Vols, No. 2 back Keith Marshall out for the year with a knee injury, receivers Michael Bennett and Justin Scott-Wesley hurt, and safeties Connor Norman and Tray Matthews getting knocked out of the game.

This is still a tremendously talented Bulldog team, and Aaron Murray is as effective as any quarterback in America, but Missouri might be ready to show everyone what it can do. This might be when the Tigers show that they’re ready to play in the SEC.

Quarterback James Franklin is healthy, and he’s playing like it, while his receiving corps is one of the deepest and most talented in the SEC, and his running backs are adding more than just balance. The 5-0 Tigers had no real problems with dangerous Indiana and Vanderbilt teams, and they rolled without a problem against the Murray State, Toledo and Arkansas State portion of the program, but now it’s Game On.

The East is there for the taking, and the timing couldn’t be better for Mizzou. Georgia is hurting and Florida and South Carolina have to come to Columbia, and while there’s still a road game at Ole Miss and a date with Texas A&M to deal with, if the Tigers can take care of this step, this could be an interesting ride.

This is only the third meeting between the two schools. Along with the win last season, Georgia beat Mizzou in the 1960 Orange Bowl.

Why Missouri Might Win: One of Georgia’s biggest problems has been a secondary that gives up too many plays. Even with a decent pass rush, the Bulldogs are having problems against decent, accurate passers, with teams completing 61% of their throws including Tajh Boyd, Zach Mettenberger and Connor Shaw. James Franklin might not be the bomber that Boyd and Mettenberger are, but he’s connecting on 70% of his throws thanks to more time from the line, better decision-making ability, and a receiving corps that’s eating up secondary alive. Of all the injury issues Georgia has to deal with, trying to get better safety play is going to be the bigger concern, and with the Tigers trotting out a slew of NBA swing forward-sized playmakers, moving the ball down the field shouldn’t be a problem against the worst D in the SEC on third downs. The Mizzou passing game should be fantastic, but …

Why Georgia Might Win: Georgia should be able to light up the Tiger defensive backs. Most teams are throwing on the Tigers to keep up the pace, but over the last three games, Indiana, Arkansas State and Vanderbilt have had way too easy a time even in the face of a fantastic pass rush coming from the outside. The Georgia offensive line has been able to keep Murray relatively clean, and even when he’s under pressure he’s making all the right reads and all the right throws. Missouri will move the ball, but as Murray and Georgia have shown time and again, they can respond. They’ve been through the wars this year. Missouri hasn’t.

Who To Watch Out For: Last year it was Jarvis Jones who owned the Missouri game. This time around the dangerous pass rushing threat is on the other side. Missouri’s Michael Sam has been all but unblockable over the two games, coming up with three sacks against Arkansas State and following it up with three more against Vanderbilt. A bit of a disappointment as a consistent pass rusher, he kicked it into high gear using all his quickness and a fantastic first step to dominate the last two games.

- Keith Marshall is out and Todd Gurley is doubtful, so what now? 5-8, 183-pound freshman J.J. Green graduated early and enrolled in Georgia this spring, and while he was originally slated to play cornerback, he was too good in the offensive backfield to move. Now it’s his running game, and he needs to be terrific after running for 129 yards on just 17 carries to help bail the Bulldogs out of the Tennessee game.

- Georgia freshman Tray Matthews came up with an interception against North Texas. Through 164 pass attempts by opposing quarterbacks, that’s the lone pick for the Bulldog secondary all year. The starting free safety is trying to come back, but he’s been missing practice this week with a hamstring problem.

- Missouri’s receiving corps has been unstoppable, and why? Options. 6-6 Dorial Green-Beckham leads the team with 364 yards on 23 catches, 6-4 L’Damian Washington leads the team in touchdown grabs with five on 22 catches for 240 yards, and 6-5 Maurice Lucas is the team-leader in catches with 27 for 262 yards with a score.

What Will Happen: This will be Mizzou’s breakout moment. Georgia will get good performances across the board to make up for the injuries, and the power running game will get Green going, but Franklin and the Tiger receivers will be too effective in yet another fun and wild Georgia shootout.

Prediction: Missouri 38 … Georgia 34
Line: Georgia -9 o/u: 67
Must See Rating: (5 Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight – 1 I Dream of NeNe: The Wedding) … 4.5
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