No. 1 Georgia survives scare from Missouri in 26-22 win

Georgia didn’t take the lead until there was just over four minutes to go in a 26-22 win over Missouri on Saturday night.

The Tigers hung valiantly with the No. 1 Bulldogs, but Georgia’s superior talent showed through in the fourth quarter. Brock Bowers and Darnell Washington made huge plays in the second half and the pressure that Missouri got on Stetson Bennett most of the evening dissipated in the fourth quarter.

Georgia’s go-ahead score came on a one-yard dive by Daijun Edwards. That was set up by a catch and run from Bowers after Bennett finally got the time to make some plays down the field. Missouri’s defense consistently got pressure and hit Bennett throughout the first three quarters of the game. And that got the Georgia pass game out of sync.

But Missouri couldn’t turn the opportunities it earned on defense into touchdowns on offense. Mizzou had to settle for four field goals as its offense struggled to get much push against Georgia’s ferocious defense.

Key penalties were a problem, too. Missouri got a yard from the Georgia end zone up 13-3 after a big run by Cody Schrader late in the first half. But a false start penalty pushed the Tigers back to the six and they had to kick a field goal. And a hands to the face penalty took away a huge third down conversion before Georgia took the lead in the fourth quarter. The penalty effectively forced Missouri to punt back to the Bulldogs, leading to the go-ahead TD drive.

The Tigers did nothing after Georgia took the lead too. Missouri had the ball for just 18 seconds after Edwards’ TD thanks to three incomplete passes. The Tigers made the somewhat curious decision to punt back to Georgia with less than four minutes to go and trailing. Missouri was able to find some rushing success against Georgia, yet it eschewed the run on what turned out to be its final drive as Georgia ran out the clock.

Reason to worry for Georgia?

The Bulldogs entered the game as four-touchdown favorites and failed to cover a hefty spread in a closer-than-expected win over Kent State last week. And while Missouri might have given future Bulldog opponents an idea of how to attack Georgia’s offense, the Bulldogs clearly were the more talented team. And more times than not, talent wins out.

"We've got a lot of things to figure out on offense," Georgia coach Kirby Smart said after the game on SEC Network. "We've gotta get better running the ball and be more explosive."

Georgia’s offensive line struggled for most of the night but started getting a push in the fourth quarter. The pass defense was great again and the defense overall was especially strong in the red zone. Missouri was forced to run multiple trick plays in the hopes of catching the Bulldogs off-balance. And none of them worked.

It’s also still very early in the season, so we’re not at all worried about the Bulldogs. There’s also still plenty of time to figure things out. Georgia has home games against Auburn and Vanderbilt ahead of an off week before the annual rivalry game against Florida in Jacksonville. The meat of Georgia’s schedule — Florida, Tennessee, Mississippi State and Kentucky in four consecutive weeks — isn’t for a while. We’ll be stunned if Georgia isn’t undefeated heading into November.

COLUMBIA, MO - OCTOBER 01: Georgia Bulldogs running back Kendall Milton (2) hits a hole for a big run during a SEC conference game between Georgia Bulldogs and Missouri held on Saturday OCT 01, 2022 at Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium in Columbia MO. (Photo by Rick Ulreich/Icon Sportswir
Georgia had its hands full with Missouri on Saturday night. (Photo by Rick Ulreich/Icon Sportswir