COLUMBIA, Mo. — Greetings from Memorial Stadium. That’s what they call the building that houses the press box here. The place where the No. 2-ranked Georgia Bulldogs and Missouri Tigers will do battle today is called Faurot Field, named after former Mizzou coach Don Faurot.
It’s early. The game kicks off at 11 a.m. local time. But that hasn’t prevented a good turnout. Today is Missouri’s first home sellout since 2014. I’m confident the Bulldogs’ presence has something to do with that. There are a lot of Georgia fans here, and there were a lot of them in St. Louis last night.
That’s pretty neat, until you realize that seating capacity for today’s game is 61,000. That’s down from the normal 71,000 Memorial Stadium can seat. But Missouri is in the midst of a $98 million renovation and improvement project. Seems everybody in the SEC is these days. Can’t give the money to the players, so these schools have to spend it on facilities and coaches.
The improvements they’re making here will actually decrease seating capacity from what it was before. It’s supposed to be around 64,000 afterward. But it’s supposed to offer a lot of amenities like premium suites for donors and, of course, a new locker room for the Tigers. A lot of that going around in the league, too.
Anyway, it’ll be a bit of a late-arriving crowd with the early kick. Heck, Mike Griffith and I were much later getting to the stadium than usual. We stayed in Jefferson City last night due to the lack of available hotel rooms here in Columbia. But it was an easy half-hour drive in.
And the weather is gorgeous, in the low 70s when we left and a high of 81 expected this afternoon. Blue skies right now and no sign of rain that was considered a strong possibility all week.
For the Bulldogs, the challenge today is pretty straightforward. They’ll need to keep quarterback Drew Lock’s receivers in front of them, control the lines of scrimmage, take care of the football and win special teams.
Left tackle Andrew Thomas made the trip. He is dressed for the game, but Cade Mays was taking reps with the first-team offense during warm-ups. We’ll be watching closely to see if running back D’Andre Swift is back up to speed and how effective wide receiver Terry Godwin is.
By the way, J.T. Dooley didn’t make the trip. The redshirt freshman walk-on receiver is the son of Missouri offensive coordinator Derek Dooley.
Based on personnel and talent, Georgia should take care of business today. The only question for me is whether it’ll be tight and stressful or like the other games the Bulldogs have played this year. The average score for them this year has been 45-8.
I don’t see that happening today against the high-scoring Tigers. More likely is something along the lines of what we saw last year in Athens, when Georgia won 53-28.
Griff and I are here to bring you all the action and provide updates throughout. Heading down to Faurot Field now.