No. 1 Georgia (8-0) takes on Missouri (4-4) this Saturday at noon in Athens.
The Bulldogs are coming off a dominant 34-7 win over Florida and Missouri travels to Sanford Stadium after a 37-28 win over Vanderbilt.
Here’s five reasons why the Dawgs walk away with a win on Saturday.
Tigers’ defensive struggles
Oct 16, 2021; Columbia, Missouri, USA; Texas A&M Aggies wide receiver Jacob Groff (26) runs against Missouri Tigers defensive back Jaylon Carlies (1) during the second half at Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
Missouri has really struggled to keep teams from scoring this season. The Tigers defense is allowing 36 points per game, while the offense is putting up 34.8 points. That’s not exactly the differential you’re looking for in the chase for SEC wins.
Out-of-conference alone, the Tigers allowed 24 points to Central Michigan, 29 to Southeast Missouri State, 35 to North Texas and 41 in a loss to Boston College.
In the SEC it’s much of the same. Missouri gave up 35 to Kentucky, 62 to Tennessee, 35 to Texas A&M and 28 to Vanderbilt, the worst offense in the league.
Georgia is currently putting up 37.9 points per game, which ranks 3rd in the SEC behind Alabama (45.9) and Ole Miss (39.1), while giving up only 6.6 points per game.
Dec 12, 2020; Columbia, Missouri, USA; Missouri Tigers quarterback Connor Bazelak (8) drops back to pass against the Georgia Bulldogs during the second half at Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
Missouri’s defensive issues aren’t helping the Tigers’ offense.
And to top it off, starter and 2020 SEC Freshman of the Year, Conor Bazelak, suffered a soft tissue injury Saturday versus Vanderbilt.
That leaves freshmen Tyler Macon and Brady Cook – who have combined for a total of nine passing attempts this season – to take the reigns if Bazelak can’t go by Saturday.
Macon poses the biggest threat of the two because of his threat in the run game, but Missouri missing a big presence like Bazelak is not what you want headed to Athens.
This Georgia defense is coming off a performance versus Florida where the Bulldogs held the No. 2 scoring team in the league to just 7 points.
Georgia run game
Oct 30, 2021; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Georgia Bulldogs running back Zamir White (3) scores a touchdown against the Florida Gators during the second half at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Perhaps the most worrisome area for Missouri is the rush defense.
The Tigers are dead last in the SEC in that category (283.9 yards allowed per game) which is almost 100 yards more than Vanderbilt is giving up (184.6).
That may be chum in the water for the Bulldogs rushing attack, which has been improving each week and, most recently, racked up 193 yards last week versus the Gators.
UGA tailback Zamir White is healthy and running well behind a mammoth offensive line backed by a stable of good backs. ‘Zeus’ is coming off of the first game over 100 rushing yards for a Dawg this season (105 yards) against UF.
Oct 16, 2021; Athens, Georgia, USA; Georgia Bulldogs tight end Darnell Washington (0) jumps over Kentucky Wildcats defensive back Davonte Robinson (9) during the first half at Sanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Georgia has had to deal with injuries to some of its best players this season, but the Bulldogs are starting to get those stars back at full speed.
Tight end Darnell Washington is getting more involved in the passing game each week after recovering from preseason foot surgery, while receivers Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint (ankle) and Jermaine Burton (groin) are back on the field and contributing to a receiver room that needed depth due to injuries.
Justin Robinson (hamstring) and Dominick Blaylock (hamstring/knee) are still out for Georgia, but the addition of Burton and Rosemy-Jacksaint back to the lineup gives the Dawgs more opportunity for big plays in the passing game.
Noon is not a problem
ATHENS, GA – OCTOBER 02: Reid Bauer #30 of the Arkansas Razorbacks has his punt blocked by Dan Jackson #47 of the Georgia Bulldogs in the first half at Sanford Stadium on October 2, 2021 in Athens, Georgia. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)
When Georgia took on No. 8 Arkansas at noon we found out just how lively Sanford Stadium could be for an early kickoff.
The Sanford crowd reached a higher decibel level than Penn State’s infamous ‘White-out’ and those are played in primetime.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t see the same happening for 4-4 Missouri, but Athens is not an easy place to play, especially this year with how dominant the Dawgs have been. The Tigers won’t have much room for mistakes this weekend.