Posted October 12, 2013

Missouri upsets injury-laden Georgia 41-26 to open up SEC East race

Gary Pinkel, Georgia Bulldogs, Missouri Tigers, SEC
Aaron Murray; Markus Golden

Markus Golden and Missouri got constant pressure on Aaron Murray in Saturday’s upset. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

As it turns out, being without Todd Gurley, Keith Marshall, Michael Bennett and Justin Scott-Wesley was a big problem for Georgia.

No single injury completely derailed the Bulldogs’ offense during No. 7 Georgia’s 41-26 loss to No. 25 Missouri in Athens on Saturday. Rather, the injuries combined to reduce the Bulldogs’ room for error to a paper-thin margin. Facing a Tigers team determined to prove it belongs in the SEC in its second year in the conference, the Dawgs couldn’t escape. Missouri captured its first road win against a top-10 team since Oct. 3, 1981.

Georgia committed four turnovers, including two late interceptions from quarterback Aaron Murray that sealed the defeat. It surrendered 38 or more points for the third time this season and allowed Missouri’s defensive line to control the game for the better part of three quarters.

But give credit to Gary Pinkel’s squad. The Tigers withstood an injury to quarterback James Franklin — he left with a separated shoulder early in the fourth quarter — to improve to 6-0 and 2-0 in the SEC. That was thanks largely to a momentum-shifting double pass, as backup Maty Mauk tossed the ball to wideout Bud Sasser who connected with receiver L’Damian Washington to extend the lead to 34-26. Georgia employed single coverage against the 6-foot-4 Washington — it’s easy to guess who won.

The Tigers, who led 28-10 at one point, allowed the Bulldogs hang around even after the trick play. They missed an extra point to keep Georgia within eight points. Murray, fresh off clutch performances against LSU and Tennessee, had a chance to lead a group of second-teamers to the game-tying score. Instead, he tossed his first interception in his last 99 attempts.

Four plays later, the Tigers iced the game when running back Henry Josey (11 carries, 51 yards, one touchdown) knifed through the Bulldogs’ defense for a seven-yard score.

Missouri’s victory officially throws the SEC East wide open, with Mizzou, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina all in the hunt. With back-to-back SEC wins to open conference play, the Tigers are certainly dreaming of a December date in Atlanta. The road there, however, will only get tougher.

Mizzou hosts Florida and South Carolina in the next two weeks, pivotal division matchups that will help shake out the top of the standings. It’ll have to do so without Franklin, who Pinkel suggested after the game would be out “for the next couple of weeks.”

Although Franklin’s performance in Athens will hardly vault him into the conversation of the SEC’s top quarterbacks, he completed 18-of-27 passes for 170 yards and a touchdown and no picks. He also scrambled five yards for the Tigers’ first score.

Mauk did nothing to show that future opponents shouldn’t stack the box against him. He underthrew a 20-yard completion to Dorial Green-Beckham and completed two other passes for a total of three yards. Granted, the Tigers led for the entirety of his playing time, but he looked shaky. If he continues to show a limited ability to throw the ball downfield, Washington may be the biggest victim. He took advantage of his size on Saturday to rack up seven catches for 115 yards and two touchdowns.

The Tigers’ defense has to feel confident after limiting Georgia to a season-low 26 points. Although it hardly stopped the Bulldogs from moving the ball — Georgia tallied 454 yards of total offense — it frustrated Murray and the Dawgs as part of a bend-but-don’t-break performance. Defensive end Michael Sam returned a fumble 21 yards for a touchdown with just more than five minutes remaining in the first half.

Though Georgia’s injuries — which did stymie the Bulldogs’ offense, especially in regard to dropped passes — were certainly a factor, Missouri took a huge step. It’s an SEC East contender now, and will look to make another statement next weekend against the Gators.

12 comments
Mizzou1839
Mizzou1839

'If he continues to show a limited ability to throw the ball downfield' ..... really? He threw THREE passes (completed all three by the way); there wasn't a large enough sampling to determine if he has 'limited ability to throw the ball downfield'.

Ed_R
Ed_R

Of course looked shaky.  However he did lead Mizzou in moving the ball for 2 scoring drives.  Mizzou also lost Gaines to injury as well.  I find it sad that Mizzou's win has to have a qualifer like "against an injury riddles team"  Well guess what, a top tier school should have the depth to compete.  It wasn't the skill players that were allowing Mizzou to get to Murry.

Dirty_Bob
Dirty_Bob

Why do we have to go through this every year with Georgia?  Let them work up the ranks to where they belong rather than fall down to where they belong year after year. 

AllisGrace
AllisGrace

Congratulations to Coach Pinkel and the Missouri Tigers for victory No. 6 this year. Best of luck through the second half of the year. It would be pretty sweet to get to Atlanta in December in year 2.

JoshuaTrask
JoshuaTrask

How many excuses can one article make for a team? Save the begrudging props you gave to the Tigers; they don't need it.


JeffBockert
JeffBockert

Wow, you mean Georgia was over rated??? Who'd have guessed that?   (Aren't they every year - along with the entire SEC) 

JimWarren
JimWarren

@Dirty_Bob Um...because Georgia finishes in the top ten almost every year?  Last year at end of season, was number five?  Because they compete against SEC opponents?  Your comment reflects either the fact that you know little about football, or you attend Georgia Tech.  Or both.

RayHuggyBearYoung
RayHuggyBearYoung

@AllisGrace Hear, hear!  Let's hope the freshman QB can step up and keep the wins coming.  Losing Franklin is going to hurt.

JoeCabot
JoeCabot

@JeffBockert Oh, and if by over rated you are referring to that run of national titles, then over rated it is.

JoeCabot
JoeCabot

@JeffBockert Do actually pay attention to anything but the scores?   Georgia is missing a bunch of their key players.   Until these guys started going down they were playing extremely well.   But don't let any of that get in the way of your ranting.

GaryPartin
GaryPartin

OMG No crap! We have a chance to compete to get to sec title game and we lose Franklin. Lets not forget that Mauk was a 4 star recruit and was in QB comp in spring. We have a great rb corp. I think we can be ok with 2 games at home.