Georgia hosts Missouri Saturday night between the hedges. The Bulldogs, ranked sixth nationally, riding some serious momentum with a thrilling 24-17 victory over Florida in Jacksonville pushing Georgia to 7-1 on the season, 4-1 in Southeastern Conference play. Missouri is the second of three consecutive Georgia foes coming off an open date. Four of the Bulldogs last five, and with next week, it will be five of six, opponents were/are idle before taking on Georgia. The Tigers come in at 5-3 and 2-2.
In a top battle against Georgia’s biggest SEC rival, the Bulldogs rose to the challenge to pick up one of the most significant wins of Kirby Smart’s highly successful tenure in Athens. The victory over the Gators is Georgia’s third straight in the series. Outstanding play from D’Andre Swift, Jake Fromm, Andrew Thomas, and tight ends Charlie Woerner and Eli Wolf spurred the Bulldogs to victory. The missing piece was the return of wide receiver Lawrence Cager, who had a sensational performance after missing the late stages of the loss to South Carolina and 21-0 win over Kentucky.
The Bulldogs, in the same season in which they took the all-time series lead against Tennessee, won the decade 6-4 over Florida. That is some major historical significance for Georgia, which lost nine straight to the Volunteers from 1989-99 and went 3-18 against Florida from 1990-2010.
So here is Georgia flying high again, surely on upset alert, especially after a disappointing loss in Athens to South Carolina as a heavy favorite.
It has been a bizarre season for the Tigers. Missouri, with Clemson transfer Kelly Bryant stepping in at quarterback for the record-breaking Drew Lock, suffered a turnover-plagued season-opening loss at Wyoming, a game with a lot of similarities to the Bulldogs loss to South Carolina. Mizzou would come back strong and rip off five consecutive victories to push the record to 5-1 and surge into the national rankings. But the Tigers then suffered back-to-back upset losses on the road at Vanderbilt and Kentucky
Missouri has been tremendous in November the last two years, posting a pair of perfect 4-0 marks in the month in 2017 in 2018, highlighted by 45-16 and 38-17 wins over Florida, plus a pair of 50-17 toppings of Tennessee.
Georgia and Missouri will be meeting for the ninth time ever. The Bulldogs have won six of the seven conference meetings and lead the series 7-1. The Tigers won in Athens in 2013. But there have been numerous tight wins for the Dogs. In two recent games of note, Georgia prevailed 9-6 in 2015 in Athens and came back to win in Columbia 28-27 the following season. Last year on the road, Georgia scored a defensive and special teams touchdown en route to a 43-29 win over the Tigers.
So here Georgia sits in the driver’s seat for the SEC East title, but with a lot of football to go in a brutally tough November slate. And while Georgia heard for two weeks from many how it was going to lose to Florida, Mizzou will certainly here the same leading up to kickoff.
Can the Bulldogs handle the success of Jacksonville and stay in that big picture?