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From the Press Box

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From the Press Box at Sanford Stadium. September 5, 2015. Photo by Murray Poole.
From the Press Box at Sanford Stadium.
September 5, 2015.
Photo by Murray Poole.
[su_spacer size=”40″] In just over one hour, Georgia and Missouri will go at it between the hallowed hedges of Sanford Stadium.
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And to say tonight’s football game marks a crossroads for the Bulldogs is, well, putting it a tad mildly.


Mark Richt’s team put itself at this crossroads juncture by being smashed 38-10 by Alabama at this same venue two weeks ago and then blowing a 24-3 second quarter lead en route to a bitter 38-31 loss to Tennessee, last Saturday in Knoxville.


Thus, standing now at 4-2 on the season and 2-2 in the SEC, Georgia will take one of two roads this evening against the Tigers. The first path is a winning one: Beat Missouri and get a Florida loss to LSU in a game being played simultaneously in Baton Rouge and you set the stage for a monster game in Jacksonville in two weeks, where that victor would have the inside track toward the SEC East crown.


Conversely, the second path at the crossroads tonight would be a very dangerous one. In fact, lose tonight to the two-time defending East champions and you kiss your hopes of making it to the Georgia Dome on the first Saturday in December, good-bye. Lose to Missouri and with three consecutive defeats going into the bye week, the wheels will have fallen off this 2015 Georgia team. And the mood among Bulldawg Nation grows even nastier than it already is.


Certainly, taking the winning highway against the defensive-stout Tigers won’t be an easy proposition. More of the same we saw last week in Knoxville, and the previous week against ‘Bama, will surely spell doom once again for the Bulldogs. There can’t be any sloppy tackling, there can’t be those early three-and-outs by the Georgia offense, there can’t be Missouri receivers running wide open in the young Bulldogs’ secondary, like was the case vs. the Vols and Crimson Tide, and again, most critical of all, there can’t be special teams disasters … shoddy punting, missed field goals, faulty kick coverage, what have you.


No, it’s going to take a crisp, nearly mistake-free ball game for the Bulldogs to get out of here with a win over a Tiger bunch that leads the SEC in defense against scoring with its 13-points surrendered average.


You’ve got to think Richt and his somewhat beleaguered staff will have Georgia ready to play tonight. If the Bulldogs are not, after the two embarrassing defeats of the past two weekends, then there’s something rotten in the state of Denmark, or should I say within the confines of Butts-Mehre.


Earlier in the week, on Bulldawg Illustrated’s weekly podcast, I said Georgia will beat Missouri by 28-17. That means the Tigers will easily beat the point spread of either 15 or 16 points, the ridiculous number the odds-makers have Georgia favored by.


Fact of the matter, Richt, his assistant coaches and the Bulldog players would take a one-point win over Missouri right now. Won’t be long now before we’ll see if Georgia can do as much.
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Murray Poole is a 1965 graduate of the University of Georgia Journalism School. He served as sports editor of The Brunswick News for 40 years and has written for Bulldawg Illustrated the past 16 years. He has covered the Georgia Bulldogs for 53 years.