Take a dog’s bone and then bash him in the head with it. What a difference a couple weeks can make. Georgia won an offensive shootout for the ages against LSU with former Bulldog Zach Mettenberger at the helm. The next week they survived overtime to beat a resurgent Tennessee team in Knoxville in what was the ultimate trap game. This week the radio and television spotters in the press box could have used FBI profiling assistance to identify players on a Georgia team that bore little resemblance in personnel or skill set to the prior couple weeks.
You will forgive Gary Pinkel and the Missouri Tigers if they don’t shed a tear or show any sympathy for Mark Richt and the MASH cast that make up the Bulldog squad today. The Tigers rolled into Athens as the SEC’s other unbeaten team, and to say they were not getting a lot of respect from the SEC or nationally would not be much of a stretch. They earned it today and left no doubt they are a balanced team to be reckoned with — at least when they are healthy.
Riding a then healthy James Franklin, the Tigers decimated the consistently giving Georgia defense and blitzed the Dogs 21-3 in the second quarter, building an impressive 28-10 halftime lead over the staggering Bulldogs. Aaron Murray is one of the top quarterbacks in the land and he predictably led a charge that saw Georgia climb back within two points in the second half. Missouri seemed on the verge of collapse and the Bulldogs were going to be able to upend the Tigers and all would be right with the world.
Quarterback and Bulldog antagonist, Franklin went down in the second half. Insert freshman Maty Mauk and the Tigers seemed on the brink of total collapse. Credit Pinkel and the offensive play calling, but Missouri was playing for the win all afternoon; and aggressive play by Mauk and the Tigers continued abusing an already substandard defense further depleted by injuries. Mauk’s engineering of two fourth-quarter touchdowns thwarted the Bulldog rally and gave Missouri their first road win over a top-10 team since 1981. It also snapped a 15-game win streak between the hedges for the depleted and depressed Bulldogs.
Missouri, now 2-0 in the SEC, looks to make a big jump in the polls this week and will host an offensively impotent Florida Gator squad next week at Missouri in an SEC East showdown game. The Tigers are suddenly leading the SEC East and will host the Gators and South Carolina in consecutive weeks, which could settle the SEC East champion once and for all.
The Tigers were not initially invited to the SEC party, but have certainly found a way to crash down the door. This Missouri team will have to overcome the key loss of Franklin for conceivably the next few weeks, and they will likely feel some of the pain the Georgia Bulldogs felt as their top player will be without pads and on the sideline as the title stretch run gets into full effect.
How far they can go is anyone’s guess, but the Tigers have certainly made a big impact in only their second year in the SEC. Nic-knack Tiger smacked and take a dog’s bone (and Heisman and SEC/BCS title hopes), Missouri is the team that goes rolling on.
Terry Waldrop was a long time college basketball coach and AD. He also is a writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @terrywaldrop, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.