A closer look at No. 1 Georgia’s victory against Missouri

ATHENS – The No. 1 Georgia Bulldogs improved to 9-0 for the first time since 2017 with a 43-6 win over Missouri on Saturday afternoon at Sanford Stadium.

Georgia found itself trailing in a game for only the second time all season late in the first quarter. Missouri had gone ahead on a 36-yard field goal at the 5:50 mark. On the ensuing possession, the Bulldogs found themselves facing fourth-and-6 at the Tigers’ 35. Quarterback Stetson Bennett, getting his fifth consecutive start Saturday, unleashed a high-arcing pass for the left side of the end zone. Wide receiver Arian Smith, absent for most of the past five games because of a leg injury, ran under it and made an incredible over-the-shoulder catch just inside the boundary. And just like that, Georgia was out front 7-3 and wouldn’t trail again.

Best play

Once again, freshman tight end Brock Bowers turned in the most amazing play of the game. Midway through second quarter, the 6-foot-4, 230-pound Bowers caught a short pass in tight coverage near the Missouri sideline. Milliseconds later, Tigers defensive back Stacy Brown found himself on his back after Bowers put him there with a stiff-arm. Bowers rambled down the sideline for a 23-yard gain on a short out-route. Instead, Missouri’s Jaylon Carlies shoved Bowers out of bounds at the 2, and the Bulldogs scored two plays later. Bowers finished with two catches for 39 yards, 25 yards after contact.

Key stat

The Bulldogs entered the game as the national leader in scoring defense at 6.6 points per game. That’s unlikely to change after holding Missouri to two field goals. It took a goal-line stand with three seconds remaining by the defensive backups to keep the Tigers out of the end zone. They came in averaging 34.8 points per game. Georgia now has held eight of its nine opponents to their lowest scoring tally of the season. South Carolina was the exception. The 59 points allowed through nine games is the lowest in a season at this point since 1971 (53 points).

Georgia 43, Missouri 6

Game ball

Out of several deserving players, give it to sophomore flanker Jermaine Burton. After sitting out one game and playing sparingly in three others, Burton got back into the flow of the receiver rotation and led the Bulldogs with three catches for 76 yards and a touchdown. Actually, all three of Burton’s receptions could have been scores. He was shoved out of bounds on the 1-yard line on a 47-yard catch early in the second quarter and then was mere feet away from crossing the goal line on what ended up as a 17-yard gain seconds before halftime. Georgia went on to score both times.

What we learned

Stetson Bennett now is Georgia’s starting quarterback, and JT Daniels is the backup. There is no other conclusion to be drawn after Bennett got his fifth consecutive start and sixth overall Saturday. There was rampant speculation that the Bulldogs would rotate the two quarterbacks now that Daniels is finally healed from a Grade 1 lat strain in his back. But Daniels didn’t enter the game until the 11:04 mark of the third quarter when the outcome was well in hand. Daniels finished with 82 yards on 7-of-11 passing with a touchdown and an interception. Bennett was 13-of-19 for 255 yards and two touchdowns. Neither quarterback was sacked.

ExplorePhotos from the game

They said it

“We put a plan together based on the quarterbacks that we have, and we execute the plan. … Again, we make the decisions as a staff that we think are best for the team, and we will continue to do that.” – Georgia coach Kirby Smart on playing two quarterbacks Saturday

“I am proud of the way our team fought. They came out with the right energy and attitude. They took a 3-0 lead at a critical fourth down there in the first quarter that they were able to convert, and we had a fourth down in the second that we were not able to convert on ‐‐ kind of flipped the momentum. In a game like this where you are playing against the No. 1 team in the country, you must make those plays. We didn’t make them today. But I was proud of our guys, and we will get ready for next week.” – Missouri coach Eli Drinkwitz

“Adam’s my best friend and my roommate, and I love him to death. We talk every day. We talked last night and just let me know that I’ve got it. There’s always a new role, a new position, the next man up. I’ve just got to step up in that position and keep the Wolfpack together.” – Georgia outside linebacker Nolan Smith on suspended teammate Adam Anderson

What’s next

Georgia: The Bulldogs (9-0, 7-0 SEC) will travel to Knoxville to take on Tennessee. The Volunteers were 4-4 (2-3) heading to Kentucky for a late game Saturday night.

Missouri: The Tigers (4-5, 1-4) play host to South Carolina.

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