No. 2 Georgia aims to stave off upset bid by No. 12 Missouri

Field Level Media

November 01, 2023 at 1:14 am.

Last season Georgia had to rally from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to fend off upset-minded Missouri 26-22 and stay on its national title track.

The Tigers (7-1, 3-1 Southeastern Conference) will take another run at upending the Bulldogs (8-0, 5-0) on Saturday in a game with postseason implications at Athens, Ga.

Georgia is ranked No. 2 in the initial College Football Playoff rankings, behind Ohio State, while SEC East rival Missouri is ranked No. 12 — its highest CFP ranking in program history.

“We thought they were really good last year when we went to play them, and that proved to be true,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. “They’ve gotten better.”

Missouri coach Eli Drinkwitz said there wasn’t much to be gained from reviewing last season’s near-upset.

“I don’t really take anything from last year’s game,” Drinkwitz said. “We’re two totally different teams. They have a lot of different players on both sides of the ball. We have a lot of different players and different identities on both sides of the ball. This is a new matchup.”

The Bulldogs extended their winning streak to a national-best 25 games by defeating arch-rival Florida 41-22. Quarterback Carson Beck passed for 315 yards and two touchdowns against the Gators, giving him 2,462 yards, 14 touchdowns and four interceptions this season.

“He’s got all the traits of a guy that can, you know, win games with his arm, his mind, and if he has to, his feet,” Smart said.

Former Missouri receiver Dominic Lovett has caught 35 passes for 365 yards and a touchdown in his first season after transferring to Georgia. With standout tight end Brock Bowers (ankle) injured, Lovett is Beck’s top target.

Running back Daijun Edwards paces the Bulldogs’ ground game with 555 yards rushing and eight TDs.

The Tigers had a bye week after defeating South Carolina 34-12 on Oct. 21, so they had more time to prepare for the Bulldogs — who have won the last nine games between the teams.

Drinkwitz believes this team has yet to reach its full potential.

“We’ve seen flashes of it, but we haven’t put it all together for four quarters,” he said. “And I think that’s why this team is so hungry and coachable: because they’re wanting to prove it to each other. We can keep playing better.”

Tigers quarterback Brady Cook has passed for 2,259 yards, 15 touchdowns and just three interceptions this season. He has also scored five touchdowns rushing and become more active with designed running plays since recovering from a hyperextended knee.

“He’s very bright, sharp, athletic, gets the ball out in something like 2.3 seconds, 2.2 seconds,” Smart said. “He knows where he’s going with the ball, he understands coverages.”

Cody Schrader leads Missouri with 807 yards and nine touchdowns rushing, and slot receiver Luther Burden III has caught 61 passes for 905 yards and six touchdowns.

“We’ve got a lot of variance in our defense in terms of multiple ways to play the slot and do things and they’ve got multiple ways to move him around,” Smart said. “They can make (Burden) slot, they can make him a running back, the X, the Z. They’re very unique in their ability to slide guys to spots.

“In terms of what they do, they’re very varied and so are we. It should be a good matchup.”