September 8, 2012
Overall Record: 1-0
Richt vs. Missouri: First Game
The new SEC will begin the second Saturday of the fall when Georgia travels to Missouri for the first conference game ever for the Tigers. The scene will be one to remember.
But somewhere after the pre-game excitement, probably in the second quarter, the newness of the game will wear off and reality will set in. This is an SEC football game: a game that could determine the champion of the division. The game is very, very important. It will be critical for Georgia to survive the start of the game as the Tigers will likely be ready to go – trying to prove to themselves and the rest of the world that they belong in the SEC.
There was a time, some years ago, when it would have been foolish to bet against the Bulldogs in this sort of game. For most of the Mark Richt era Georgia played very well on the road – no matter the opponent. But in 2009 Georgia started struggling on the road. Losses at Oklahoma State, Colorado and Mississippi State brought the notion that Georgia was a road team juggernaut into question. The Bulldogs had their first losing season on the road in 2010 when they lost in Columbia, Boulder, Starkeville, Jacksonville, Auburn and in Memphis. It was tough to watch the Bulldog road tour that season.
But last year Georgia was undefeated on the road. So the question is this: Has Georgia solved its problems playing on the road? This game will help determine if that's the case. The more critical game in Columbia will probably take place in the Palmetto State, but if Georgia loses in the Shoe Me State it will have no margin for error the rest of the season.
Missouri player to watch:
The latest in a line of receivers to enter college as physically impressive and ready freshmen, Dorial Green-Beckham should make an immediate impact for the Tigers. The Springfield, Mo., native is said to be a mix of former Alabama receiver Julio Jones and Georgia wideout A.J. Green – a combination of strength, speed and playmaking ability. Missouri's wide-open offense (eight players caught at least one touchdown in 2011) should make for a great opportunity for Green-Beckham to showcase his talents. Quarterback James Franklin is a rising junior who threw for 21 touchdowns last year. Green-Backham will likely become Franklin's No. 1 target early on.
What the Dawgs must do:
This will be a strange one. Missouri will be out to show they belong in the SEC – that's not a great scenario for week two of the year. Still, Georgia is better than Missouri, but they should be in for a fight. If they can control the line of scrimmage, which should be the case, they will be fine. Otherwise this is a game the Bulldogs had better watch out for.
Inside the numbers:
Missouri is one of only six schools from BCS-AQ leagues to have won a minimum of eight games in each of the last six seasons (2006-11). The other five programs are a who's who of the nation's elite – LSU, Oklahoma USC, Virginia Tech and West Virginia.
Non-existent. Will that change? Probably not. It will be interesting to see how Missouri navigates the recruiting world of the SEC. It's not going to take long for this new set of Tigers to understand that recruiting in the SEC isn't like recruiting anywhere else in the country – it's cut throat.
Last year's prediction (vs. Mississippi State): Georgia has to have a particular mindset coming into the State game. State is not as good as Georgia, but that didn't prevent State from winning in 2010.
That's just what the Dawgs did – fight. They fought for themselves and the coaching staff. It was a solid win over a team who turned out not to be that great in the end. But looking back the win over State was a momentum builder for the Dawgs. Very few folks will remember how critical that game was at the time.