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All-Time Meetings: 3rd meeting (Georgia leads 2-0)
Mark Richt: 122-41, 13th year
Gary Pinkel: 96-61, 13th year
When: Saturday, October 12
Where: Sanford Stadium
TV ESPN (Dave Pasch, Brian Griese, Tom Lugenbill)
Record: Georgia 4-1, 3-0. Missouri 5-0, 1-0
Latest Line: Georgia by 8
Georgia Message Boards: UGASports.com
Aaron Murray became the SEC's all-time leading passer last week, but you barely heard a word due to all the drama of last week's 34-31 overtime win over Tennessee when the senior drove the Bulldogs to the tying score with just 1:54 left in regulation. The Tampa, Fla. native also showed his wheels with a personal-best 57-yard run that set up a short touchdown run by Brendan Douglas. This week, Murray faces another huge challenge. With Todd Gurley doubtful, no Keith Marshall and receivers Justin Scott-Wesley and Michael Bennett out of the lineup, Murray will have to find his rhythm with some new dancing partners. But considering what he's done already this year, don't bet against him.
Meanwhile, Missouri quarterback James Franklin is on a roll. Following an injury-plagued 2012, Franklin has already surpassed last season's total offense output as he enters Saturday's game with 1,685 total yards of offense (1,407 passing, 278 rushing yards). He's thrown for 13 touchdowns and rushed for two more scores. He currently ranks second in the SEC and 10th nationally in total offense with a per-game average of 337 yards per game.
Todd Gurley got in some straight-line running but it's still unclear whether we'll see the sophomore, meaning freshmen J.J. Green and Brendan Douglas will again carry the bulk of the load. That might not necessarily be a bad thing. Green rushed 17 times for 129 yards, while Douglas scored his first career touchdown. Assuming Gurley can't go, there's a chance that fellow freshman A.J. Turman could see his first action, or Richt could turn to veterans but seldom-used Brandon Harton or Kyle Karempelis.
The Tigers' rushing attack has been a potent one due to the efforts of four players - tailback Russell Hansbrough, Henry Josey, Marcus Murphy and Franklin at quarterback with 275-yards or more on the ground. Hansbrough leads the way with 379 yards and three touchdowns for the Tigers who are the only school in the country with four backs over 275-plus yards.
Wide Receiver/Tight end
It's going to be very interesting for the Bulldogs, now without Justin Scott-Wesley for the year with a torn ACL and Michael Bennett for at least the next two weeks with an injury to his MCL. That means junior Chris Conley, senior Rhett McGowan, freshman Reggie Davis and senior Rantavious Wooten figure to be Murray's main targets. But he's still likely going to need some more help. Therefore, redshirt freshmen Blake Tibbs, former UAB signee Kenneth Towns and walk-on Michael Erdman could get their first opportunities. Tight end Arthur Lynch and Jay Rome weren't part of the picture last week against Tennessee but obviously have had their moments before.
Missouri features what is probably the tallest receiving corps in the SEC, beginning with 6-foot-6 sophomore Dorial Green-Beckham and 6-5 Marcus Lucas. In the team's 45-28 win over Indiana, both Green-Beckham and Lucas went over the 100-yard receiving mark in the game, catching eight balls for 105 and 10 for 101, respectively. It marked the first time the Tigers had two 100-yard receivers since the final game of the 2010 Insight Bowl game against Iowa.
Georgia's offensive line continues to play some of its best ball as the Bulldogs come into play having given up just one sack in their last three games. The Bulldogs continue to go with their base look of Kenarious Gates at left tackle, Dallas Lee at left guard, David Andrews at center, Chris Burnette at right guard with Kolton Houston and John Theus rotating at right tackle.
Justin Britt and Mitch Morse are a couple of long, athletic tackles that are solid in pass protection. Both do an excellent job of blocking in space in the screen game, but can get pushed around some in the run game. The guards, Max Copeland and Connor McGovern, are a couple of great athletes in their own right. Copeland is excellent at working up to the second level of the defense while McGovern is strong at the point of attack. Both are sound in blocking their assignments and do a good job of cutting off penetration when the play is going away from them. McGovern has had some struggles in pass protection when put in a one-on-one situation while Copeland has had some difficulties blocking defensive tackles when put in that same situation.
After successfully helping to slow down the running games against North Texas and LSU, Tennessee was able to run for 189 yards against the Bulldogs last Saturday. Missouri figures to challenge Georgia's front line as well. The Tigers actually lead the SEC in rushing offense with 258.6 yards per game, and feature a four-pronged attack that includes quarterback Franklin as the team's top threat in short yardage. You won't see any huge changes as far as personnel goes, but look for position coach Chris Wilson to really focus on the substitution to give Garrison Smith, Sterling Bailey, Ray Drew, Chris Mayes, et al. The defensive line is going to have its work cut out.
For Missouri, senior defensive lineman Michael Sam is on a roll. The 6-2, 255-pounder has notched a career-best three sacks in back-to-back games against Arkansas State and Vanderbilt. The three sacks from both games ties the NCAA single-game high through this weekend's game and Sam is the only player in the nation so far to record three sacks in a game twice. Sam leads the SEC in both sacks (1.2 per game) and tackles for loss (two per game).
Ramik Wilson and Amarlo Herrera continue to wrap up tackles for the Bulldogs, who continue to struggle, however, when it comes to forcing turnovers. Wilson's 15-tackle performance against Tennessee enabled him to move to the top of the standings in the SEC with 52, while Herrera added 11 and is now fifth in the SEC with 47. Jordan Jenkins only has one sack to date, which is disappointing, but has nine quarterback hurries which are to second to the team posted by Leonard Floyd who leads the Bulldogs with 10. Floyd's three sacks also top the Bulldogs, who ranked fifth in the SEC with 12.
The Tigers feature an athletic bunch that does a great job of flying to the football. The best of the bunch appears to be senior Andrew Wilson. Wilson is a very active piece of the Tiger defense and is a sure tackler in the box. He has solid range for 6-foot-3, 240-pound linebacker, but isn't necessarily the sideline-to-sideline type. Donovan Bonner and Kentrell Brothers man the other two linebacker positions when Mizzou is in its base, and both are similar players.
Five games into the season and Georgia just has one interception all year. Those numbers have to improve and that only adds to the pressure being felt by Georgia's young secondary. Safety Tray Matthews still appears doubtful after straining his hamstring last week, which means fellow freshman Quincy Mauger is in line to start his second straight game. Freshman corner Shaq Wiggins is also expected to start his second consecutive contest ahead of Brendan Langley. Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham mentioned they started Wiggins last week since the Bulldogs opened in Nickel. That's expected to be the same against the Tigers.
Missouri, on the other hand, is having no trouble coming up with interceptions. The Tigers recorded three for three straight games to start the 2013 campaign, adding single picks against Arkansas State and Vanderbilt. Eight different players have combined for the team's 11 interceptions, led by senior cornerback E.J. Gaines with three.
Marshall Morgan won last week's game with his 42-yard field goal after earlier booming a personal best 56-yarder against the Volunteers. Unfortunately, the Bulldogs are not without some problems. Last week, Georgia suffered a blocked punt which Tennessee recovered for a touchdown, the second time that's happened this year.
Missouri kicker Andrew Baggett continues to be a huge weapon for the Tigers after tying his personal best with three field goals against the Commodores and scoring 15 of his team's 51 points. Baggett also continues to be a huge field position weapon for Missouri after having six touchbacks on his 10 kickoffs against Vanderbilt. Through five games, Baggett ranks 3rd nationally in kickoff touchback percentage at 78.1 percent (32 touchbacks in 41 attempts).
Running back Todd Gurley did some running but still appears doubtful, as does wide receiver Jonathon Rumph (hamstring) who continues to suffer issues with his hamstring. The Bulldogs will obviously miss running back Keith Marshall (ACL), wide receiver Justin Scott-Wesley (ACL) and wide receiver, Michael Bennett (MCL), but hope to have punter Collin Barber back after suffering a concussion against the Vols. Fullback Quayvon Hicks also injured his ankle, but practiced Wednesday and is expected to play.
Projected Starting Lineup
QB Aaron Murray (6-1, 208, Sr.)
RB J.J. Green (5-9, 192, Fr.)
FB Quayvon Hicks (6-2, 265, Soph.)
LT Kenarious Gates (6-5,327, Sr.)
LG Dallas Lee (6-4, 295, Sr.)
C David Andrews (6-2, 295. Jr.)
RG Chris Burnette (6-2, 314, Sr.)
RT Kolton Houston (6-5, 280, Jr.)
TE Arthur Lynch (6-5, 254, Sr.)
WR Rhett McGowan (6-0, 180, Sr.)
WR Chris Conley (6-3, 206, Jr.)
DE Ray Drew (6-5, 276, Jr.)
N Garrison Smith (6-3, 299, Sr.)
DE Sterling Bailey (6-3, 282, RSoph.)
Sam Leonard Floyd (6-4, 235, Fr.)
Will Jordan Jenkins (6-3, 246, Soph.)
MIKE Ramik Wilson (6-3, 232, Jr.)
MOE Amarlo Herrera (6-2, 244, Jr.)
CB Shag Wiggins (5-10, 165, Fr.)
CB Damian Swann (5-11, 178, Jr.)
SS Josh Harvey-Clemons (6-5, 228, Soph.)
FS Quincy Mauger (6-0, 200, Fr.)
QB James Franklin (6-2, 230, Sr.)
RB Henry Josey (5-10, 190, Jr.)
LT Justin Britt (6-6, 315, Sr.)
LG Max Copeland (6-3, 300, Sr.)
C Evan Boehm (6-3, 315, So.)
RG Connor McGovern (6-4,310, Soph.)
RT Mitch Morse (6-6, 305, Jr.)
Y Marcus Lucas (6-5, 220, Jr.)
X Dorial Green-Beckham (6-6, 225, Soph.)
H Bud Sasser (6-2, 210, Jr.)
Z L'Damian Washington (6-4,205, Sr.)
DE Michael Sam (6-2, 255, Sr.)
DT Matt Hoch (6-5, 295, Jr.)
NG Lucas Vincent (6-2, 305, Jr.)
DE Kony Ealy (6-5, 275, Jr.)
WLB Kentrell Brothers (6-1,240, Soph.)
MLB Andrew Wilson (6-3, 240, Sr.)
SLB Donovan Bonner (6-1, 245, Sr.)
CB E.J. Gaines (5-11, 195, Sr.)
CB Randy Ponder (5-10, 195, Sr.)
SS Braylon Webb (6-0, 205, Jr.)
FS Matt White (6-0, 195, Sr.)
Did you know?
• The Bulldogs have won their last 15 games at Sanford Stadium.
• Junior linebacker Ramik Wilson leads the SEC with 52 tackles in only five games.
• Missouri has caused a turnover in 35 straight games, the longest active streak in the BCS.
• Missouri is converting 53.8 percent of its third downs, a mark that ranks third in the SEC and ninth in the country.
• The Tigers are averaging 258.8 yards rushing, the No. 1 mark in the SEC.
The 7th-ranked Bulldogs have to feel they're taking on No. 25 Missouri with one hand tied behind their back. With so many key offensive performers on the sideline, it's no wonder they might feel this way. Coupled with the fact that the entire Bulldog Nation is waiting for the defense to step up to the proverbial plate, it's also no wonder that many prognosticators are calling for the upset at Sanford Stadium, a place where Georgia has won 15 straight games. Missouri is certainly coming in on a roll. Sure, the Tigers' non-conference schedule can be questioned, but last week's 51-28 win at Vanderbilt was an eye-opener. This is a talented Tiger team, they can end Georgia's home win streak. But after what he's done this year, how can you bet against Aaron Murray? Dawgs win, but it's going to be another squeaker.
Jake Rowe - Georgia 37, Missouri 33 (Record 4-1)
Anthony Dasher - Georgia 33, Missouri 30 (Record 4-1)
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