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Tyson Campbell returned to the Georgia defense against Missouri.

Georgia football winners and losers after shutting out Missouri

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Georgia football winners and losers following Missouri shutout

Winner: Tyson Campbell

For the first time since the Arkansas State game, Tyson Campbell was back on the field for Georgia. A turf toe injury kept the sophomore sidelined for so long, as the injury affected his ability to plant and run.

After the game, Campbell said he was between 95 and 100 percent. But that paled in comparison to how he felt about just playing football again.

“It felt great, being out there with my guys again. It’s the greatest feeling in the world,” Campbell said.

If Campbell is indeed as healthy as he claims to be, that’s a massive boost to the Georgia defense. D.J. Daniel played well in Campbell’s absence, but Campbell makes Georgia’s ceiling so much higher. Before he suffered his injury, Campbell looked like he was beginning to put everything together. He had 3 pass break-ups in one half against Arkansas State, more than he had in all of 2018.

And if Georgia is to play LSU in the SEC championship game with a bid to the College Football Playoff on the line, Georgia is going to need Campbell to try and slow the LSU passing offense.

Loser: The Georgia offense without Lawrence Cager

Georgia wide receiver Lawrence Cager was once again putting up stellar numbers for the Bulldogs. Just before halftime, Cager looked well on his way to another 100-yard performance, as his final catch of the half left him with 6-catches for 93-yards.

But that last catch saw Cager re-aggravate his shoulder injury. He left the game and did not return, though Kirby Smart said that he could’ve returned if needed. The Georgia defense made sure that wasn’t the case. But the offense certainly could’ve used him.

Cager opens up so much for everyone else in the offense. His presence pulls more defenders away from the line of scrimmage, making things easier for the Georgia running backs. Cager keeps defenders away from George Pickens on the other side.

Related: With George Pickens, Georgia football has to live with the bad to enjoy the good

And most importantly, he makes things incredibly easy for Jake Fromm. Fromm said afterward Cager turns those 50-50 into “99-to-1” balls. It’s clear there’s a huge level of trust between Fromm and the senior wide receiver.

Georgia really needs Cager to be healthy for this coming weekend, given No. 13 Auburn will be the best defense the Bulldogs have played to this point in the season. Because if not, Georgia’s going to have a really rough time against Auburn.

Winner: Nolan Smith

Georgia’s pass rush has disappeared at times this season. In the previous three games played at Sanford Stadium, the Bulldogs recorded just 1.0 sack. But Georgia added 2.0 to its season total, as inside linebacker Quay Walker picked up one, while freshman Nolan Smith notched his first career SEC sack.

For Smith, the first sack against a conference foe had to be refreshing, just given how close he’s been on a number of dropbacks.

“He has been close a lot. He was close on the last play of the Notre Dame deal, chasing him around,” Smart said. “He’s getting better. He’s playing with more and more confidence. It’s getting where freshmen aren’t freshmen anymore. This is where last year we had a lot of these kids step up and play well.”

A number of people were wondering what had happened to Smith after a ho-hum game against Florida. This is where — much like with Pickens — you have to keep in mind that Smith is a freshman. It’s going to take him a little while to adjust to the speed differences between the college game and high school. After his effort against Missouri, it’s clear he’s making progress as the year goes on.

And if he can play as he did in the Missouri game against Auburn, things are going to be very difficult for Auburn freshman quarterback Bo Nix.

Loser: Those hoping to beat Alabama in the SEC championship game

For the first time since 2011, Alabama lost to LSU. This game was a far cry from the 9-6 slugfest that the 2011 contest was, as the Tigers came away with a 46-41 win.

The win will almost certainly bump LSU to the top of the College Football Playoff rankings on Tuesday. It also gives LSU the inside track to heading to Atlanta for the first time since 2011, as the Tigers close with games against LSU, Arkansas and Texas A&M. If LSU wins its next two, it will have the SEC West locked up before the Iron Bowl.

As for Alabama, the loss doesn’t eliminate them from the College Football Playoffs. It will still be favored in its remaining three games. And one only has to look back to 2017 when a one-loss Alabama team that didn’t win its division made it to the College Football Playoff and won the whole thing. Alabama will get the benefit of the doubt, given that it’s played in every College Football Playoff up to this point.

But the Crimson Tide don’t have a straight forward path to the playoff, like say Georgia does. Nick Saban is going to need to root for chaos in order for his team to be ranked in the top 4 when the final rankings come out.

Related: Social media already comparing Georgia football-Alabama College Football Playoff resumes

The loss will make things very difficult for Alabama to get back to the SEC championship game. That likely means that Georgia and Alabama won’t face off this season. But those looking to see Georgia finally triumph over Saban and Alabama might not have to wait too long. Georgia visits Alabama on Sept. 19 in 2020.

Winner: Fans of good defense

In Georgia’s last 10 quarters played in Sanford Stadium, the Bulldogs have given up just 3 points. In the six games against SEC East competition, the Georgia defense surrendered just 5 total touchdowns.

The Georgia defense has three shutouts this year. It’s the first time that’s happened in a season for Georgia since 1981. And the Bulldogs are still the only team in the country to not give up a rushing touchdown.

In an age where the elite teams in college football are putting up absurd offensive numbers, Georgia is zigging. Georgia clearly has the best defense in the SEC, even when factoring in the number of back-up quarterbacks the Bulldogs have faced. Georgia ranks first in the SEC in points allowed per game and first in total defense.

The only thing this Georgia defense doesn’t do well is force turnovers — it ranks 13th in the conference in that category — and tackles for loss — it ranks 11th. More turnovers would likely help the offense, just given that it would give them more drives. But even The Godfather has its dull moments.

As much as people are going to talk up the LSU offense in the weeks ahead, Georgia’s defense is going to give them a chance, should the two teams meet in Atlanta. And that should be enjoyed.

Georgia football coach Kirby Smart after Missouri win

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