Georgia: Now the gauntlet begins

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Georgia: Now the gauntlet begins

.Sam Pittman

 
 
Georgia and Missouri square off at high noon Eastern Time, 11:00 a.m. Central, in Columbia, as the defending Southeastern Conference champion Bulldogs tangle with the high-octane Tigers. Kirby Smart’s squad amassed an impressive offensive onslaught, which included scoring drives of 87, 94, 74 and 90 yards, in a 49-7 win over Middle Tennessee State that improved third-ranked Georgia to 3-0 on the season.
 
 
The Bulldogs young third-year head coach, through three games, certainly appears to have a reloaded team. A 45-0 season-opening win over Austin Peay was followed by an incredibly impressive 41-17 trouncing of then No. 24 South Carolina. An uncharacteristic high number of penalties was the only negative to point to from last week’s win, but Smart aims to have his squad clicking on all cylinders with Mizzou the first of seven straight SEC foes for the Bulldogs.
 
 
Missouri has been very impressive this season thus far as well. With senior quarterback Drew Lock, a potential top-five pick in April’s NFL Draft, headlining a talented offense, the Tigers, with first-year coordinator Derek Dooley calling the plays, boast one of the country’s most potent attacks. Barry Odum’s Tigers, on the heels of a last-second 40-37 win at Purdue on Tucker McCann’s game-winning field goal, is now 3-0 and has won nine of its last 10 games. For a team that started 1-5 last year, low lighted by a 35-3 loss in Columbia to the Boilermakers, then got smoking hot in the second half the 2017 campaign, that win Saturday was a big statement for the Tigers. Mizzou pummeled Tennessee-Martin 51-14 to open the season, followed that with an impressive 40-13 win over Wyoming. While so many prognosticators are saying it is Georgia with a decisive advantage over the remainder of the division, the Tigers have their chance as the top contender to the defending champs.
 
 
This will be the seventh meeting between the two, and the sixth since Missouri joined the SEC. The Bulldogs lead the all-time series, and have won all three meetings in Columbia – 41-20 in 2012, the Tigers first-ever SEC game, 34-0 in 2014 and a 28-27 thriller two years ago, Smart’s first SEC game at the helm of his alma mater. Saturday afternoon’s winner in Columbia sits in the driver’s seat for the SEC East Division title. Mizzou made its SEC mark with a 41-26 win over Georgia in Athens in 2013, sparking the first of two straight trips to the SEC Championship Game. For the Bulldogs to make it back to Atlanta, Saturday’s battle with the Tigers is essential and pivotal.
 
 
 
 

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