Top-ranked Georgia will look to continue its dominance over host Missouri on Saturday at Columbia, Mo.
The Bulldogs (4-0, 1-0 SEC), traditionally, have had little trouble against the Tigers (2-2, 0-1 SEC).
Georgia is 10-1 all-time against the Missouri, including a perfect 5-0 at Columbia, and 9-1 since it joined the SEC from the Big 12 in 2012. Georgia has won the past eight meetings, including a 43-6 victory last year at Athens, Ga.
The Bulldogs struggled at times during their 39-22 victory over visiting Kent State last week. UGA turned the ball over three times after not committing one in its first three games.
Georgia, which gave up just a combined 10 points in its first three games, allowed 13 in the first half against the Golden Flashes. Georgia was also burned for a fake punt by Kent State.
Missouri is coming off a devastating 17-14 overtime loss at Auburn. Tigers running back Nathaniel Peat fumbled the ball just before crossing the goal line for what would have been the game-winning touchdown in overtime. Missouri kicker Harrison Mevis missed a 26-yard field goal that would have won the game in regulation.
The Bulldogs are led by quarterback Stetson Bennett — who is completing 74.2 percent of his passes for 1,224 yards with five touchdowns and an interception — but tight end Brock Bowers has emerged as the offense’s brightest star.
Bowers has touched the ball 18 times and has produced 358 total yards and five touchdowns. He has 15 receptions for 276 yards and two touchdowns, but he’s been even more efficient as a runner, finding the end zone on each of his three carries, averaging 27.3 yards per rush.
On the second play against Kent State, Bowers took a handoff and sprinted down the sideline untouched for a 75-yard touchdown. He added a two-yard touchdown run in the second quarter and caught five passes for 60 yards.
“He’s unique, but I think the position has evolved, right? So, he’s evolved with the position,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said of Bowers. “If you’ve watched his high school tape, he was not really just a tight end. So, I think part of the sale in recruiting was you won’t be used just as a tight end.”
Missouri counters with receiver Dominic Lovett, who has an SEC-leading 376 yards with two touchdowns on 21 receptions.
“He’s a special player with special talent. I think we all knew that,” Missouri coach Eli Drinkwitz said. “I have known all along that we were very fortunate to get Dominic on our football team.”
The Tigers hope to pair him with freshman receiver Luther Burden III. Burden is a five-star recruit who Georgia recruited heavily before the native of St. Louis chose to play closer to home.
Burden has 10 catches for 78 yards and a touchdown, and seven carries for 40 yards and a score. But he came away with an injury in the second quarter against Auburn, which limited him to one 3-yard punt return. He’s questionable for Saturday, as is linebacker Chad Bailey (arm), according to Drinkwitz.
Missouri right tackle Zeke Powell will be replaced by Connor Wood after suffering a season-ending injury against Auburn.
Tigers’ quarterback Brady Cook is completing 63.3 percent of his passes for 805 yards with four touchdowns and four interceptions.
“I think their quarterback’s done a good job this year,” Smart said of Cook. “He’s a good athlete. He can scramble around and extend plays and make plays with his feet.”
–Field Level Media