ATHENS — Georgia coach Kirby Smart believes his Bulldogs are in for a challenge against a Missouri team that has won five of six and is looking for a statement win.
The No. 9-ranked Bulldogs (6-2) play the No. 25-ranked Tigers (5-3) at noon on Saturday in Missouri.
Smart is 3-3 in SEC games that kick off at noon, most recently beating Kentucky 14-3 this season, and losing to South Carolina 20-17 in double-OT last season.
Here are three keys for Georgia to avoid the upset in Missouri:
Know when to run
Smart said Missouri plays a unique 3-4 front that aims to erase the run game and challenges quarterbacks and receivers to beat man-to-man coverage on the back end.
“We’re never gonna abandon the run, it’s not the way to play football, you can’t become completely one dimensional,” Smart explained. “You have to keep pass rushers honest, you have to be able to grind things out and at different times.
“You have to be able to run the ball to win the game, because there comes a time in a game where you’ve got to be able to eat clock if you are winning, so we want to be able to do that.
“But, we’re not going to beat our head against a brick wall if that’s the way they want to play.”
It could mean a big day for JT Daniels and receivers George Pickens and Jermaine Burton.
Put Missouri away
Smart pointed out how Missouri rallied from a double-digit deficit to beat Arkansas, 50-48, last Saturday.
“They were very resilient in the Arkansas game,” Smart said. “They were down and they would never go away. They kept climbing back in and beat a good Arkansas team.”
The Tigers trailed by 10 points in the third quarter and 14 points in the fourth quarter.
It will be easier said than done, because Missouri is very efficient on offense and quarterback Connor Bazelak takes good care of the football.
Bazelak was 32-of-49 passing for 380 yards with no interceptions against Arkansas and 30-of-37 passing for 318 yards and no interceptions in the 41-0 win against Vanderbilt the week before.
The Tigers have just two turnovers in their past three games.