Believe it or not, the Missouri Tigers (5-3, 2-2 SEC) still control their own destiny to finish atop the SEC East. In order to do so, they will need to win out in their remaining four games, and it starts with a daunting task Between the Hedges at No. 6 Georgia Bulldogs (7-1, 4-1 SEC). Kick-off is set for 6 p.m. CST as Missouri will play their first ranked team all season.
To get a Georgia perspective, here’s what Macon Dawg from Dawg Sports had to say about the Bulldogs’ high expectations this season, Missouri being an SEC East member, and this being a potential trap game for Georgia.
Sammy Stava: After their win over Florida, Georgia is now the clear favorite to win the SEC East division. Would just getting to Atlanta be considered a success this year, or does this team have College Football Playoff or bust expectations?
Macon Dawg: I think if you’d asked most fans before the season they would have said this was a “playoffs or bust” year. But as the season has progressed and we’ve seen some of the warts on the team in terms of youth at wide receiver and injuries along the lines it’s become clear that this team might not be as dominant as we had hoped. Nominally, the expectation is still probably to make it to the playoff. But if UGA fans are being honest with themselves, this just may not be the year for the ‘Dawgs to knock off the SEC West’s best.
SS: Georgia comes in at No. 6 in this week’s AP Top 25 rankings. Is that about where you expect them to be when the first College Football Playoff rankings come out on Tuesday?
MD: Obviously you asked this question before the polls came out. But to take the question in a different direction, that’s about where I’d expect the Red and Black to land given their resume. The Committee seems to be giving Georgia credit for the victory over Notre Dame and recognizing that the loss to South Carolina was a close one in which Georgia played about as poorly as it could. In the end the current ranking is academic because the path ahead for the Bulldogs is pretty clear: they must keep winning SEC contests to get to Atlanta where the winner of Alabama/LSU will likely be waiting. Win and they’re in the playoff, lose there and they’re out.
SS: Since 2011, it has either been Florida, Georgia, or Missouri that have represented the SEC East in SEC Championship games. After back-to-back SEC East titles in 2013-2014, Mizzou has fallen off quite a bit, but are now trying to work their way back to being respectable. Just out of curiosity, what do you think the Georgia fan bases’ opinion is on Missouri being an SEC East member?
MD: They’re at peace with it. As someone who grew up with family in CoMo (who are still Mizzou season ticket holders) I was always onboard with the idea. But the Tigers’ solid performance over the past few seasons has confirmed that they belong from a competitive standpoint. And as I expected, Columbia has become a very popular road destination for UGA fans who enjoy the convenient travel, friendly folks, and lively campus scene. We took a vote, and I’m pleased to announce that y’all can stay.
SS: Georgia could be getting Missouri at a dangerous spot a week right after the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party and a week right before the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry. Are you worried about this being a trap game or has Georgia pretty much learned their lesson after the South Carolina loss?
MD: I’d like to believe they’ve learned their lesson. I’m not 100% convinced however. Georgia’s had a great deal of success against the Tigers in recent years, and there’s been a lot of merriment surrounding that win in Jacksonville. Fans seem to have a little bit of a hangover, as tickets for this weekend are going for uncharacteristically low prices on the secondary market. Honestly I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Mizzou come out and move the ball some before Georgia snaps to.
SS: How do you see this game playing out on Saturday? Have a final score prediction?
MD: Again, I think Missouri is going to have some success running the ball and will get some yards. But we’ve seen this Georgia defense all season bend without breaking. Eight games into the season they remain the only defense at any level of college football that hasn’t allowed a single rushing touchdown. If Kelly Bryant is in fact limited and the Tiger offense is strictly one-dimensional, Georgia will likely respond by “manballing” it up the field slowly (and frustratingly for fans), doing just enough to win. I could easily see this one becoming a boring 27-10 or 27-13 Bulldog win which neither team’s fanbase is terribly thrilled about.