It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t necessarily ugly. And it definitely wasn’t old-man football. But whatever it was, the Georgia Bulldogs made a statement Saturday night, going on the road and getting a 41-20 victory at Missouri, ruining the Tigers SEC welcome party in the process.
Now for those of you who aren’t familiar, that “old-man football” comment wasn’t my own clever editorial commentary, but instead were the words of Missouri’s Sheldon Richardson. Earlier this week the star defensive tackle was asked his thoughts on the Tigers Week 2 opponent Georgia, and what to make of their season-opening win over Buffalo. His quote:
"I watched that game. I turned it off, too," Richardson said. "It's like watching Big Ten football. It's old-man football."
Well, well, well Mr. Richardson, as you’ll learn quickly in the SEC, you better keep your mouth shut or back up your trash talk. Missouri did neither, despite holding a 10-9 halftime lead over the Dawgs.
Unfortunately in the SEC it takes 60 minutes to close out wins, and there is little doubt that the Bulldogs were the better team over the course of the entire game. Georgia took a 24-20 lead late in the third quarter, and then used 21 unanswered fourth quarter points to make a once-close game look entirely more one-sided than it actually was.
In the end, the difference for Georgia was basic offensive efficiency.
Simply put, in the first half everything that could go wrong for Georgia did. Quarterback Aaron Murray looked rushed in the pocket, and spent most of the first 30 minutes scrambling, getting sacked and overthrowing his receivers. The Georgia run game- which finished with 227 yards against Buffalo- had just 44 yards on 17 attempts in the first half as well. Definitely not a good look for the defending SEC East champs.
But whatever went wrong in the first half went right in the second, as Georgia cruised to the win.
The biggest difference was Murray, who, after his early struggles was much better in the second half and finished the evening with 242 yards and three touchdown passes. The running game lit up too, as Todd Gurley, Keith Marshall and Ken Malcome spent most of the final 30 minutes wearing down Missouri’s defensive front, finishing with a combined 130 yards on the ground. Most importantly, a defense which was good (but not great) in the first half, held Missouri to just one field goal over the final 25 minutes of the game.
And in the “big picture” of Georgia’s season, the win was huge, especially for a school looking to win their second straight SEC East title. With Florida getting a key win at Texas A&M earlier in the day and Tennessee and South Carolina both looking strong too, the division appears to be wide open, and the last thing the Dawgs needed was to lose Saturday and fall behind the eight-ball. They survived, and now should be 4-0 heading into a game with Tennessee in Week 5.
As for Missouri, the SEC newbies could’ve made a major statement by getting the win Saturday night, but in a lot of ways they made one even in defeat. Yes, the final score wasn’t close, but for those who watched the game, they know Missouri competed with Georgia, before simply running out of gas in the second half. This team likely won’t compete for a division title (especially now that they’re one game behind the eight-ball in the standings), but will be a tough matchup every single time they take the field.
In the end though, old-man football won out.
It wasn’t pretty, but Georgia will gladly take their first SEC win of the season.
For all his opinion, insight and college football articles, be sure to follow Aaron on Twitter @Aaron_Torres.