Beleaguered Georgia Bulldogs open as single-digit favorites at Missouri
ATHENS — Georgia football opened as a 9-point favorite at Missouri in next Saturday’s game in the “Show Me” State looking to show it still has some fight left in it.
The No. 12-ranked Bulldogs (4-2) will face a well-rested team in the Tigers (2-3), as a Missouri is coming off an open week but the betting line quickly grew to 12 points, per VegasInsider.com.
It’s yet another game away from Sanford Stadium for Georgia, which hasn’t played a home game since Oct. 10 on account of its designated home game with Florida being played in Jacksonville last Saturday.
The Bulldogs have bigger issues to contend with, however, with three defensive starters missing from the 44-28 loss to the Gators.
The status of quarterback Stetson Bennett, receiver George Pickens and tailbacks Kenny McIntosh and Kendall Milton is also questionable moving forward.
Bennett suffered a sprained AC joint in his shoulder, an injury he fruitlessly attempted to play with for more than two quarters before Coach Kirby Smart finally pulled him out of the game amid offensive struggles.
Pickens suffered a strained pectoral muscle during the bye week and didn’t travel to Kentucky or down to Florida with the team.
McIntosh, the team’s explosive kick returner and a versatile weapon out of the backfield, haas been sidelined since he injured a knee on a kick return against Alabama on Oct. 17.
Milton suffered a strained MCL in the win over the Gators.
Smart had said last week he was hopeful nose tackle Jordan Davis could return from an elbow injury to play against Florida, listing him officially as “day to day.”
Davis, however, didn’t dress out for the game.
All-American safety Richard LeCounte, who crashed a dirt bike on Macon Highway on Halloween Night, also remains sidelined indefinitely.
The injuries and quarterback questions have made for a Georgia team that has been trending down since the second half of the Alabama game.
The Bulldogs lost a 24-20 halftime lead against the now-No. 1-ranked Crimson Tide amid a flurry of turnovers.
Smart has steadfastly maintained his support of Bennett, even as the former walk-on has struggled with six interceptions and three fumbles in the past three games.
The offensive struggles have put Smart’s defense on the field more than usual, as Georgia has been unable to sustain drives and control the clock.
Smart played D’Wan Mathis in relief of Bennett against Florida after a Bennett interception at the Gators’ 35 all but doomed UGA’s comeback hopes.
Mathis, a redshirt freshman who hadn’t played since the third game of the season against Tennessee, was unable to rally the Bulldogs.
Georgia also has former USC starting quarterback JT Daniels available to play.
Daniels has worked to regain mobility in the knee he injured in USC’s 2019 season-opening game.
Smart assigned Daniels to the scout team when he was unable to get cleared for the season-opening game, but the head coach indicated Saturday night he’s still competing to play and remains an option.
Daniels operated in a similar system to what new offensive coordinator Todd Monken brought to Georgia while winning a high school national championship and at USC.
OTHER SEC GAMES
Vanderbilt at Kentucky (-18), noon, SEC Network
Texas A&M (-10) at Tennessee, 3:30 p.m., ESPN
Auburn (-10) at Mississippi State, 4 p.m., SEC Network
Alabama (-22) at LSU, 6 p.m., CBS
Arkansas at Florida (-18), 7 p.m. ESPN
South Carolina at Ole Miss (-7), 7:30 p.m., SEC Network