No. 1 Georgia survives Missouri's upset bid with fourth-quarter rally: What we learned
COLUMBIA, Mo.— Georgia football coach Kirby Smart didn’t seem too upset last week when MAC opponent Kent State put some pressure on the Bulldogs at home in a 17-point win.
The Bulldogs were never really in danger then.
Unlike Saturday night when the top-ranked Bulldogs had all kinds of trouble finding their footing against unranked Missouri and seemed on the verge of going down in a shocking upset.
Instead the Bulldogs overcame a 10-point deficit with 14:09 to go and went ahead with 4:03 left on Daijun Edwards' 1-yard touchdown run, his first score of the season.
Georgia, a 29½-point favorite, survived with a 26-22 victory.
Week 5 winners and losers:Oklahoma implodes, Alabama shows resolve
Saturday recap:What you need to know about college football’s Top 25 games for Week 5
They won on a night Georgia turned the ball over early, its secondary got burned in the passing game and the Tigers stuffed Georgia’s run game for much of the night until the fourth quarter.
Missouri’s Harrison Mevis went 5-for-5 on field goals including from 52 and 56 yards. He pumped his fist after a 49-yard field goal in the first half.
The Tigers would have won their first ever game against a team ranked No. 1 in the polls. They beat an Oklahoma team in 2010 that was ranked No. 1 in the BCS.
Here are five takeaways as Georgia won its ninth straight against Missouri and improved to 5-0, 2-0 in the SEC:
Georgia Bulldogs finally get it going late to grab lead
Georgia didn’t find the end zone until a 1-yard Kendall Milton touchdown run with 9:39 to go to cap a 10-play, 75-yard drive.
Then Stetson Bennett led Georgia on a 7-play, 68-yard scoring drive. He completed a 13-yard pass to Dom Blaylock, hit tight end Brock Bowers on a quick pass to the outside for 12 yards and then Edwards went in from the 1 to put Georgia ahead for the first time.
Bennett finished 24 of 44 for 312 yards and did not throw a touchdown for the second straight week.
More importantly, Georgia found a way to win on a night it very nearly lost to a Missouri team that fell to 2-3, 0-2 in the SEC.
Georgia averaged 8.4 yards per play on its first two drives of the fourth quarter when it scored both of its touchdowns.
Georgia Bulldogs offense sputters at start and in red zone
Georgia scored 46 first quarter points in its first four games and had scored at least one touchdown in the opening 15 minutes in each of its first four games.
This time the Bulldogs didn’t get in the end zone until Milton’s 1-yard touchdown with 9:39 to go in the game cut the lead to 22-19.
That was a shocking development by an offense that had scored 13 touchdowns in the first half of its games entering Saturday.
The Bulldogs averaged 42.2 points per game, 17th in the nation.
Georgia found itself trailing for the first time all season at 3-0 and the Tigers lead grew to 13-0.
The Bulldogs managed just 49 yards on 11 plays in the first quarter and 35 of those came on a Milton run up the middle that ended with the Tigers linebacker Ty’Ron Hooper knocking the ball loose and Missouri recovering.
The Bulldogs punted three times and had a pair of three-and-outs and just one first down in the quarter.
Ladd McConkey, who had two fumbles last week, dropped a pass over the middle that ended one drive.
Bennett was just 10 of 24 for 149 yards in the first half. Star tight end Bowers wasn’t targeted until 11:15 left in the second quarter. He led Georgia with four catches for 54 yards.
More:The divergent path to playing time for all those 5-star recruits on Georgia football's roster
Georgia’s red zone woes continued despite it being a focal point of this game week.
The Bulldogs had to settle for Jack Podlesny field goals on its first three trips in the red zone. He converted from 40, 34, 22 and 29 on the night as Georgia trailed 19-12 with 2:15 to go in the third quarter.
Secondary matters hurt Georgia football
With Georgia missing suspended starter Javon Bullard, the Bulldogs saw Missouri starting quarterback Brady Cook complete 14 of 18 passes for 129 yards in the first half.
Cook hit a wide open Tyler Stephens for a 10-yard touchdown with 12:43 to go in the second quarter.
Tykee Smith, the West Virginia transfer, started in place of Bullard, who was arrested on Sunday for a DUI and six other misdemeanors.
Missouri rode Mevis for much of its scoring. He was money a week after he missed a short field goal in the Tigers’ overtime loss to Auburn.
Cody Schrader blew through the Georgia defense on a 63-yard run up the middle in the second quarter, but freshman safety Malaki Starks saved a touchdown by dragging Schrader down at the 1. Missouri had to settle for a field goal after a false start penalty. Starks had a pass breakup on a deep ball in the fourth quarter.
Kelee Ringo was beaten in single coverage on a 46-yard completion to Mookie Cooper. Georgia’s defense held but Mevis booted the 52-yarder. Ringo was called for a pass interference on the next drive.
Turnover woes continue for Georgia
After three turnovers last week — two from McConkey on a fumble on a reception and a muffed punt and a Bennett interception — Georgia had two in the first half.
Bennett fumbled after appearing to put the ball in the belly of running back Daijun Edwards.
Meanwhile, Georgia didn’t force any turnovers in the first half from Missouri.
The Bulldogs’ three turnovers lost last week matched the highest in any game the last two seasons. Georgia has outclassed opponents so much that they all came in wins —against Kent State, Charleston Southern, Florida and South Carolina. The two games Georgia had three turnovers in 2020 were losses — to Florida and Alabama.
Georgia running game gets off to slow start
Dell McGee was on the lookout for a future running back Friday night in California, checking out four-star 2023 prospect Roderick Robinson out of San Diego.
Georgia had just 33 yards on 11 carries in the first half, but finished with 169 yards on 36 carries.
Edwards had 2 yards on two carries and Kenny McIntosh’s only run went for minus-4 yards.
McIntosh picked up 9 yards on the first offensive snap of the second half.
Georgia’s offensive line couldn’t get much push against a Missouri team allowing 108.5 yards rushing, 34th in the nation.
A false start by center Sedrick Van Pran-Granger came one play before Bennett was clobbered on a pass by defensive end Trajan Jeffcoat on an incompletion. Bennett then threw behind wide receiver Dillon Bell.
On a fourth-and-1 in the fourth quarter, McIntosh gained three yards to set up Milton’s touchdown.