Mizzou football: 3 ways Tigers can upset Georgia, no matter who plays QB for the Dawgs
The Missouri Tigers were off last weekend, but this weekend, they’ll play host to the Georgia Bulldogs. The Bulldogs have been riddled by injuries in recent weeks and have an uncertain quarterback situation, but this is still a very talented squad.
Georgia has won 6 consecutive matchups with the Tigers. First-year Mizzou coach Eli Drinkwitz recently snapped the school’s 5-year losing streak to Kentucky. If he can snap the Dawgs’ winning streak, it’ll be even more impressive.
The Bulldogs are fresh off a loss to Florida, though, so this game won’t be easy, even in the friendly confines of Faurot Field. So, what do the Tigers need to do to pull off the upset?
Here’s a look at 3 keys to the game for Mizzou:
1. Keep limiting Georgia’s big plays
Georgia has been without star WR George Pickens for a couple of weeks and that could continue this weekend. Without him, the Dawgs don’t have many deep threats. In fact, they rank 11th in the SEC with 209.3 yards passing per game. They also rank No. 8 in the SEC in 20+ yard passing plays, with only 17 on the season.
Add in the fact that starting QB Stetson Bennett IV has an injury he’s dealing with and the situation is muddled. D’Wan Mathis hasn’t been effective in his limited action, and we haven’t seen JT Daniels yet.
None of those options should worry the Mizzou defense at this point. Still, the Dawgs will have to take a few shots downfield to win on Saturday. If Mizzou can stop them from scoring any huge touchdowns, forcing the Dawgs to instead methodically grind their way down the field, it’ll bode well for the Tigers.
Meanwhile, Mizzou will need to take a few deep shots of their own and connect on a couple. This Georgia defense is banged up, but it’s still one of the best in the SEC.
2. Get off the field on 3rd downs
The Missouri defense has been incredible on 3rd downs this season. For all the attention Georgia’s defense gets, the Tigers actually have the best success rate on 3rd down. The Mizzou defense has allowed opponents to convert only 35.6% of their attempts.
Georgia’s defense, for comparison’s sake, is No. 3 in the SEC, allowing opponents to convert 37.1% of 3rd-down tries.
This is a strength vs. strength battle, and that will be an important one. Since Georgia’s offense will rely heavily on the ground game, time of possession will skew toward whichever team picks up more first downs.
Fortunately, Nick Bolton, Martez Manuel and the Mizzou defense have shown it is up to the task this season. We’ll see if they can stop Zamir White, James Cook and the Georgia ground attack.
3. No Georgia defensive/special teams touchdowns
The Bulldogs have scored 4 times on defense this year — a safety, 2 interception returns and a fumble return. Considering how much the Georgia offense has struggled recently, it will be of the utmost importance to avoid letting the Dawgs score on a momentum-changing play like that.
An important part of that will be to keep the ball away from the cornerbacks. Georgia has a pair of potential first-round picks in Eric Stokes and Tyson Campbell. Stokes just brought an interception back for a touchdown against Florida. It didn’t affect the Gators too much, as they pulled away in the second half, but the Mizzou offense isn’t nearly as explosive as the Gators’.
Making the Dawgs earn everything they get is the key to success. Thus, look for Drinkwitz to use elements of his game plan from the Kentucky win. I expect a lot of work for RB Larry Rountree III. And, I’d like to see Tyler Badie get more involved in the passing game. He needs the ball in space. And, as mentioned above, Stokes and Campbell are more than capable of taking away Mizzou’s outside receiving threats.
Plus, those guys are reliable. You aren’t going to see them put the ball on the ground too often. Ball control will be the name of the game on Saturday. Whichever team wins the field position and turnover battles should be in a great position to win the game.