How bad was Missouri's offense against Georgia Saturday? Just take a look at the few times they had the ball on the other side of the field.
The Tigers had to wait until two minutes left in the second quarter to see their first play in Bulldogs' territory of the game. Maty Mauk fumbled the ball on that play, allowing Georgia to recover. It was Mauk's third turnover of the afternoon, and a pretty apt summary of the Tigers' struggles on offense Saturday.
The next time Missouri got the ball in Georgia territory, near the start of the third quarter, Mauk immediately threw an interception. The Bulldogs' defensive pressure caused problems for the Tigers all game long, helping a Todd Gurley-less Georgia stroll to a 34-0 victory.
Missouri's third play in Georgia territory was successful -- a seven-yard run by Russell Hansbrough -- but their fourth was another Mauk interception. Appropriately enough, interception No. 4 came in what appeared to be quadruple coverage.
Missouri's defense actually had a decent game, shutting down the Georgia run game and pressuring Hutson Mason in the pocket. The Tigers prevented big plays from the Bulldogs, but were unable to close out drives. Georgia converted 12 of 20 third down attempts after converting 7 of 10 in the first half. They entered the game with a 37.5% success rate on third downs this season.
Three things we learned
1. Georgia is the new SEC East favorite. The win puts them as a half-game favorite ahead of Mizzou in our projections, and the Bulldogs now hold the tiebreaker as well. It won't be easy -- next week at Arkansas should pose a tough test, while Auburn still lurks on the schedule -- but games against Florida and Kentucky should go a long way towards the Bulldogs winning the division.
2. Georgia's offense looks...different without Todd Gurley. Sure, they still have a power-runner back there in Chubb, but the Bulldogs relied more heavily on the pass in the win. Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo balanced Chubb's down-hill running with a flurry of short passes from Hutson Mason, but Georgia was missing Gurley's ability to create explosive plays. The Bulldogs longest play of the day was a 22-yard interception return by Dominick Sanders.
Mason ended up completing 22 of 28 passes for 156 yards and a touchdown, never showing himself as a deep threat but completing the short passes Georgia's offense needed -- especially on third downs. Mason also ran for an 11-yard touchdown early in the second quarter, making the correct read on an option play and making it to the end zone virtually untouched.
Chubb entered the game with 31 carries all season, and easily bested his career-high with 38 against the Tigers. He ended up with 143 yards on the game (3.8 yards per carry), with a nine-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. Brendan Douglas also got involved in the running game, rushing 13 times for 65 yards on the day.
3. Missouri needs turnovers to survive. No, the other kind. Under Gary Pinkel, the Tigers have thrived on their ability to consistently create turnovers. Missouri's now gone three straight weeks without forcing one, and are 1-2 in that stretch. The Tigers only have one game left against a ranked opponent (Nov. 15 at Texas A&M), and have a friendly-enough schedule that they could get back on top of the division if Georgia slips up. After Saturday's result, they will need a Georgia slip-up now, and that may be too much to ask for.
They're also going to need significantly better play from the quarterback position. Mauk completed 9 of 21 passes for 97 yards with four interceptions, and ran seven times for -14 yards in the loss. Much of the credit goes to Georgia's defensive front for applying the pressure, but the Tigers' offensive line was unable to answer.