ATHENS — Georgia scored a 30-21 “program victory” over Missouri on Saturday, a tribute to Kirby Smart’s coaching strategies and his players’ execution.

The Bulldogs (9-0, 6-0 SEC) won their 26th-straight regular season game, matching the SEC’s College Football Playoff era mark set by Nick Saban at Alabama in 2015-2016.

UGA is now just two wins away from the the SEC all-time mark of 28 set by Paul “Bear” Bryant (1978-80) and Gene Stallings (1991-93), also with the Tide.

Georgia also tied a school mark for consecutive home wins (24), set by Vince Dooley’s Herschel Walker-led Bulldogs from 1980-83.

Many point to the talent Smart has recruited, but Saturday’s game showed how important player development and coaching has been in the Bulldogs’ run as back-to-back national champs.

For all the recruiting rankings and preseason All-American selections, there wasn’t much difference in how the Bulldogs and Tigers appeared to measure up on the field.

Especially once UGA middle linebacker Jamon Dumas-Johnson -- arguably the team’s most important defensive player -- went down with a fractured forearm.

RELATED: Kirby Smart updates Jamon Dumas-Johnson injury

Georgia was already playing without its best offensive player for a second game (Brock Bowers) and was still missing its top-rated offensive lineman (projected first-round NFL pick Amarius Mims).

There were five lead changes on Saturday before Georgia finally put the Tigers away at Sanford Stadium. The Bulldogs’ defense got two fourth-quarter turnovers to seal the win.

“I’m really proud of our players,” Smart said. “I think that we’ve built a group of men and a team that knows how to play with resiliency and composure.

“Really, we talked all week about having discipline to execute in crunch times, and they did that.”

The Bulldogs out-gained Missouri by a slim margin of 385 yards to 363 yards, and for the third-straight game surrendered an opening drive touchdown.

Stealing 3 points

Smart’s coaching came into play on Georgia’s opening drive, when he dared to go on fourth-and-5 at the Missouri 47.

Carson Beck executed a hard-count perfectly, getting the Tigers to jump, and then Beck — aware he had a free play — lofted a deep ball that Rara Thomas came down with a the Missouri 21-yard line to set up a Peyton Woodring field goal.

“We stole a drive there,” Smart noted.

Beck finished 21-of-32 passing for 254 yards and two touchdowns.

Sticking with the plan

Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo made strong halftime adjustments and the Bulldogs roared to life, scoring two touchdowns in the third quarter.

“I know we have a potent offense with a lot of guys that we can use and a guy that can get it to them,” Smart said. “We’ve got good pass protectors, good run blockers.”

Missouri out-rushed UGA, 151-131, but Smart liked Bobo’s patience.

“I didn’t really feel like we ran the ball overly well in the first or the second half,” Smart said. “Now, the second half had some moments. You’ve got to be able to control the line of scrimmage.

“I thought Mike did a good job staying with it, sticking with the plan. We were very committed to the run when most teams would have abandoned it.”

Daijun Edwards led the Bulldogs with 77 yards on 16 carries, and Kendall Milton had 44 yards and a touchdown on nine carries.

Competitive edge

Smart said Nazir Stackhouse’s interception was obviously the biggest play of the game, but the Bulldogs expected someone to make it.

“They believe in our system, (and) we have built a culture of competitive edge in the fourth quarter,” Smart said. “We believe that we’re the best conditioned team that’s going to win games in the fourth quarter. We’re going to align with each other.”

Smart took note when team captain Sedrick Van Pran told the defense the offense was ready to answer a Missouri fourth-quarter touchdown.

“I got goose bumps going down my back when they went down and scored and Sedrick Van Pran was yelling at the defense …. ‘We got your back. We got your back, we’re going to be fine,’ " Smart said.

“Missouri put together a really good drive, kind of drove the ball right down our throat and hit us on a lot of fast ball runs. Sed was telling those guys to jog off and that we were going to be fine. There’s a lot of leadership out there, some really positive leaders.”