Who has the better shot in Atlanta: Georgia or Missouri?
The SEC Championship is just over a week away and we still have no idea who will be representing the East or West in Atlanta.
With how both divisions have played on opposite ends of the spectrum this season in regard to the SEC West’s domination, the SEC Championship this season has long been viewed merely as the SEC West’s primer for the College Football Playoff.
There are only two teams left in contention for that spot in Atlanta from the SEC East — Georgia and Missouri. While either team would come into that matchup as the underdog against either Alabama or Mississippi State, which of the two East teams stands the best shot at upsetting the SEC West in the championship?
What they do well: Run the football — Todd Gurley may be out, but that doesn’t matter. Nick Chubb has taken the SEC by storm this season and he’s just a true freshman.
Since taking over Gurley back on Oct. 11, he’s rushed for 918 yards and nine touchdowns. Chubb’s running style has punished several defenses over the course of last month or so and he’s made teams like Auburn and Arkansas look silly.
Add in the depth behind Chubb and UGA’s rushing attack is among the best in the country. Stopping Keith Marshall and Sony Michel, along with Chubb, seems virtually impossible for opposing defenses, especially over the course of 60 minutes.
What they don’t do well: Passing the football — This is an area that’s improving as the season as gone on, but for the better part of the season Georgia’s passing threat was virtually nonexistent. Hutson Mason has developed over the season and has been very efficient, throwing just one interception since Oct. 4.
The emergence of Chris Conley in the receiving corps has helped UGA tremendously, too. Conley’s been the go-to-guy for Mason as of late and has made some highlight-reel catches in the process.
However, you just wonder how the passing attack would hold up against a top-tier defense like Alabama or Mississippi State in the SEC Championship. I’m not sure UGA has the firepower to pose much of a threat in that area.
What they do well: Defense — The Tigers’ defense is the main reason why Missouri has been able to make this run late in the season. Against conference opponents, Missouri is only allowing 19.9 points per game and 302. 6 yards per game — numbers bested by only Alabama.
In recent weeks, the Tigers have silenced two offenses with a ton of momentum and did so on the road. That’s another thing about the Tigers that would make them so dangerous in the SEC Championship. They win away from home. Currently, Missouri is in the midst of a school-record 10-game road winning streak, something that would surely give them confidence at a neutral site like the SEC Championship.
What they don’t do well: Maty Mauk’s consistency — Missouri’s offensive woes were directly tied to the inconsistency of Mauk during the season.
While some of these issues have improved and Mauk has risen his level of play in recent weeks, there would be concern of Mauk trying to do too much and resorting back to his turnover-prone habits, especially against Alabama or Mississippi State.
Against the tough defenses on Missouri’s schedule this season, Mauk hasn’t impressed so he would likely be a liability against either team.
Who stands the best shot: Georgia Bulldogs
Why: As much as I think Missouri would be vastly underrated in the SEC Championship and would give any competitor a tough game, I believe UGA has the best shot to win the title from the SEC East.
When you look at the two teams, Georgia excels in the two aspects — running the ball and defense — that are necessary to pulling off an upset. It’s much harder for a team like Georgia to make mistakes if the ‘Dawgs are able to rely those two things.
Missouri’s defense is outstanding and this is a team that’s proven it can find a way to win, week in and week out. The offense has come around in recent weeks, but the consistency just hasn’t been there long enough to convince me that it’s a unit capable of scoring more points than Alabama or MSU’s offenses.
But overall, UGA’s offense seems more apt to deal with a defense like Mississippi State or Alabama. I believe UGA’s defense is talented enough to keep Alabama or MSU off the scoreboard enough so the offense can make up the difference.
With Chubb in the backfield anchoring the offense, you can’t go wrong with Georgia over Missouri in who has the best shot to win the SEC Championship. Either way, however, both teams will be more than worthy competitors against whoever the SEC West sends to Atlanta in just under two weeks.