It didn’t take much for Georgia to set the pace of the game.
The Bulldogs forced Missouri quarterback Taylor Powell and the offense to a quick three-and-out. The Tigers would go three-and-out twice more before finding a first down.
In Georgia’s first offensive possession, it functioned like a well-oiled machine, exposing an outmatched Missouri secondary. A six play, 2:47 drive culminated in a 25-yard touchdown from quarterback Jake Fromm to receiver George Pickens.
Offensive coordinator Derek Dooley showed his appreciation for Albert Okwuegbunam. The All-American tight end was targeted seven times on the night and went for 24 yards. But even an increased target count couldn’t help the offense as Missouri fell to No. 6 Georgia, 27-0, on Saturday.
Just when Missouri had a glimpse of hope in the second quarter, it crumbled.
With the Tigers at Georgia’s 24-yard line, Taylor Powell tried to find Okwuegbunam only for the ball to get snagged out of the air by Richard LeCounte III. The Georgia safety returned it 71 yards to the Tigers’ 18 yard line, with only a tackle from receiver Jonathan Nance stopping him from taking it to the house.
But the Tigers’ defense was able to push the Bulldogs back far enough to limit Georgia to a field goal.
With the offense still unable to step up, the defense took responsibility. The unit played well in the second quarter, as it only allowed 27 yards to the Bulldogs.
But the strong showing from the defense couldn’t save a struggling offense. An open Kam Scott couldn’t reel in a deep ball from Powell on the team’s final drive of the first half. The next play Scott slipped up again, being called for unsportsmanlike conduct.
These final two drives of the first half were a microcosm of the game. Missouri, unable to convert on third and long, punted and gave Georgia solid field position. Fromm found Georgia’s leading receiver Lawrence Cager for a 30-yard completion (though the impact from the catch forced the receiver to exit the game with no return). Missouri held Georgia to three incompletions to cause a fourth down, but as time expired, Georgia sent the ball through the uprights yet again.
Missouri went into the half down 16-0.
The Tigers’ defense epitomized “bend don’t break.” Time after time, Georgia would march into Missouri territory and yet, the Tigers would do just enough to hold the Bulldogs to a field goal. And while the defensive unit played about as well as fans could hope, the offense was largely incapable of moving the ball. All night long, the Tigers couldn’t convert on third down, going just 4-for-14. Whether it was overthrown passes, drops or the inability to establish the run, Missouri’s offense was hard to watch.
The second half continued in similar fashion to the first. Georgia was able to drive practically at will, this time seeing a commitment to the run game. D’Andre Swift led the Bulldogs in rushing on the night with 83 yards.
The sole bright spot for the Tigers could be found in Nick Bolton. The sophomore and newfound leader of the defense had nine tackles, two for a loss, and a sack.
But nothing the defense did prevented the inevitable. Missouri was blown out, losing once again on the road, and the offense looked nothing like the one that dominated for five straight games earlier in the season.