Nobody expects Missouri to travel to Georgia and pull off this upset.
I actually thought they had a shot at one point this season. It wasn’t that long ago. Missouri was 5-1 coming off an impressive win on Homecoming against Ole Miss. You remember the time. Everything was rainbows and butterflies around this program.
And then they left the city limits of Columbia and everything came crashing down.
Mizzou is a significant underdog this Saturday against Georgia. As I’m writing this, Vegas has the Bulldogs listed as a 17-point favorite. That could change by the time you’re reading this depending on the news.
And that news is significant.
Word came out of practice on Tuesday that Kelly Bryant feels like he’s at 75 percent, and Barry Odom added that if the game were being played on Tuesday, Bryant wouldn’t play.
Uhh, that’s not ideal.
For all of Bryant’s faults, he’s still the starting quarterback for a reason. It’s the same reason he was a borderline must-win recruiting battle for Odom. Without Bryant, Mizzou doesn’t have an answer at quarterback. That was the case in the spring, and it remains the case today.
Enter Taylor Powell.
If Bryant is unable to play against Georgia — and it’s sounding very 50/50 right about now — Powell will be the signal-caller for the Tigers. He will do so against a Georgia defense that ranks 1st in the SEC in points per game allowed, 1st in total defense, 1st in rushing defense, 4th in passing defense, 1st in opposing 3rd down conversions allowed and tied for first in explosive plays (20+ yards) allowed on the season.
No pressure or anything.
I went back and watched every snap Powell took in his relief of Bryant against Kentucky. It was a mixed bag, to be sure. Some of that was due to the torrential downpour. Some of it was his receivers not coming through for him. And some of it was a quarterback with some pretty clear limitations.
Based on the limited action we saw against Kentucky, Powell seems to have a pretty decent grasp of the offense. There were a few plays when he did a good job of directing traffic up front and he made a number of good decisions in the quick passing game. That being said, there was almost nothing down the field. I don’t know if that was due to the elements or a lack of arm strength, but it’s certainly notable given the opponent on Saturday.
Long story short, I’m not expecting much against the Bulldogs.
I want to be clear here— that’s not a shot against Powell. This is simply an impossible situation for any backup quarterback. In particular, a backup quarterback with little to no experience on the road with receivers that haven’t played particularly well all season.
If Mizzou is going to be competitive in this game, it’s going to have to steal a page out of the South Carolina playbook. The Gamecocks were able to upset Georgia as a result of four takeaways, a Georgia turnover on downs and two Bulldogs missed field goals. A great defensive performance, some timely plays on offense and a little bit of luck. That’s what it would take for Mizzou.
If Bryant isn’t able to suit up, Saturday won’t be a reflection of Taylor Powell. Powell probably won’t look great. No quarterback looks great against Georgia.
When a backup enters the game — especially at quarterback — the rest of the team has to step up. That will certainly need to be the case on Saturday for the Tigers.
A tough road game potentially gets a little bit tougher.