Missouri pulls away from Georgia early and late to score the upset in Athens

Dr. Saturday

Missouri fans are well-conditioned. When things are going well, you can never get too excited; things can, and often do, go wrong.

So you can imagine what was going through the minds of many Mizzou supporters when its 28-10 halftime lead on the road at No. 7 Georgia had suddenly dwindled to 28-26 and the Bulldogs had a two-point conversion attempt for the tie with 13 minutes remaining.

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It fell incomplete. But on the next drive, quarterback James Franklin had to leave the game with a separated shoulder. Things were going south in a hurry, right?

Wrong. Three plays after Franklin had to head to the locker room, Bud Sasser hit L'Damian Washington on a 40-yard wide receiver-to-wide receiver touchdown pass. The lead was eight, and the feeling of an inevitable loss was gone. Tigers 41, Bulldogs 26.

Georgia committed four turnovers, including an Aaron Murray fumble that was recovered by Michael Sam for a Mizzou touchdown to make the halftime lead 18. But perhaps the most costly was Murray's interception two drives after Sasser's pass to Washington.

With over four minutes remaining, Georgia was trailing by eight and Murray had a chance for yet another late game comeback. His first pass went straight into the hands of Missouri's Randy Ponder. Goodbye game, and goodbye any hope of a one-loss appearance in the BCS Championship.

Inexplicably, Georgia shied away from the running game in the first half and only netted 48 yards. Immediately after halftime, the ground game was suddenly rediscovered, the main reason that the Bulldogs scored 16 straight points. But it was Missouri's running game that made the difference.

With Maty Mauk in for the injured Franklin, Georgia's commitment to stopping Missouri's rushing attack opened the door for Sasser's pass and a 20 yard connection between Mauk and Dorial Green-Beckham that set up Mizzou's final score, when you could hear a massive sigh of relief emanating from the nation's midsection. 15 points in two minutes is really, really hard to screw up.

But of course, with every Missouri cause for celebration there's always a dark lining. And that's the shoulder of Franklin, which was wrapped in ice throughout the waning minutes. Though right now, with Florida and South Carolina set to visit Mizzou over the next two weeks, Franklin or no Franklin, the battle for control SEC East is in Columbia, Mo.

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