The Extra Point: Mizzou Prepares for Air Battle
Things change during a sports season. Titans fall, underdogs rise, people go down, etc. This is the case for both squads in Saturday's game between Mizzou and Georgia.
The Tigers, coming off a huge win against Vanderbilt, are not the same disappointing Tigers that fans in Columbia were expecting. The newly-ranked team has been firing on all cylinders this season. The success is due to two combined factors: the new up-tempo offense Missouri has implimented and the ability to stay healthy.
According to ESPN's Stats and Information department, Missouri has been running 77 plays per game. That number leads the SEC right now. Everyone on offense has been thriving off this new strategy Missouri is running and it is leaving defenses winded.
More importantly, no one has succumbed to injury yet (knock on wood). The guys fans saw ride pine last year are out balling instead, including James Franklin and Henry Josey. Franklin has thrown for 1407 passing yards and 13 passing touchdowns while running the ball for 278 rushing yards. If he keeps this up, he might get some Heisman consideration later in the season. As for Josey, he leads the team in rushing touchdowns with six while racking up 307 yards on the ground.
While Missouri has been injury-free, the Georgia team most certainly has not.
Georgia's star running back Todd Gurley is listed as doubtful for this game. Gurley's backup, Keith Marshall, and star receiver Justin Scott-Wesley are both out for the season.
This doesn't bode well for the Bulldogs.
Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray will be slinging the ball all game because of these injuries. The Heisman candidate is throwing for over 1500 yards. He's better than James Franklin. But he is lacking the offensive weapons he usually has to make him a Heisman level quarterback.
Nonetheless, given both team's weak pass defenses, it looks like it will still be a battle between the gunslingers.
The X-factor in this game will be pass defense. Who can stop the opponent's quarterback? What Missouri has over Georgia is their ability to force turnovers. Missouri is second in the FBS in interceptions with 11. Given the fact Murray won't have his top players to help beat this secondary, it's going to be interesting to see how he plans to combat this factor. The effective Missouri defensive line will also rush Murray in the pocket.
Prediction: Mizzou will beat this top ranked squad.
As of right now, Missouri has more weapons in general. If Gurley somehow suits up, then this game would look a lot different. But losing Gurley is a huge setback for Georgia and it's unclear whether they can recover from that. They may have beaten Tennessee without him, but will have more trouble with a squad that is coming in this hot.
Watch out Georgia, you're on upset alert.