Missouri's grand entrance into the SEC last year fell flat in the second half as Georgia took control for a 41-20 win. The stakes are much higher for the Tigers when they meet the Bulldogs again on Saturday in Athens.
Last year, no one expected Mizzou to contend for the SEC East. That game against Georgia was more of a measuring stick than one that would determine the division title. While Saturday's game is yet another opportunity for 5-0 Mizzou to see where it stands against one of the nation's heavyweights, it's also an opportunity for the Tigers to stake a claim as an SEC East favorite.
Few expected Mizzou to contend this year either, but a drubbing of Vanderbilt kept the Tigers' offensive and defensive drumbeat going after four nonconference wins and it's catching Georgia at the best possible time with the Dawgs top two running backs and top three receivers set to miss the game.
Georgia still has quarterback Aaron Murray, and he's a big reason why they're still favored by more than a touchdown. However, James Franklin isn't far behind Murray in passing efficiency, though Murray has played a considerably tougher schedule. Franklin's season has surpassed his sophomore season after an injury plagued 2012 that included a shoulder injury, a concussion, and coach Gary Pinkel questioning his refusal to take a cortisone shot.
Both South Carolina and Florida travel to Missouri, and given Florida's issues on offense and South Carolina's uninspired play, both games are more winnable for the Tigers than against Georgia, which suddenly doesn't look like the mismatch it did three weeks ago. Georgia is giving up 32 points per game and has just one interception. Missouri has 11.
The Tigers took a lot of heat last year after an injury-plagued 5-7 season. Now with the injury roles seemingly reversed against Georgia, an upset surpasses that 2012 win total. And makes a division title a reality, even if it's an unlikely one. It just wouldn't be crazy.