|Jarvis Jones was in hot pursuit of James Franklin all night. (Getty Images)|
GEORGIA WON. "Old Man Football" was the best football, for one night in Columbia, anyway. After trading blows for the better part of three quarters, the Bulldogs buried the Tigers in the fourth, snuffing out a fake punt and forcing two James Franklin turnovers to set up three scoring drives totaling 21 yards. Jarvis Jones lived up to his All-American billing and then some, recording eight tackles, a sack, a forced fumble, an interception, and causing non-statistical havoc on at least a half-dozen more plays. Even with 41 points on the scoreboard and three Aaron Murray touchdowns, the night belonged first and foremost to the Georgia defense.
WHY GEORGIA WON. After that fourth quarter, there's going to be a lot of talk about Georgia being the bigger, deeper team, the usual chatter about the old SEC team physically schooling the league newcomers. A glance at the stats would seem to back that up--Missouri ran for just 2.6 yards a carry and no touchdowns, while Georgia picked up 3.2 (nothing to write home about, of course, but better than Mizzou's) and two scores on the ground.
But considering that the Tigers lost 86 yards in bad snaps and sacks, the difference in actual straight-ahead rushing wasn't much of a difference. There wasn't much of a difference in the two teams by any statistical measure--Missouri had 371 yards to Georgia's 355, averaged 6.6 yards a pass to Georgia's 6.9, committed five fewer penalties (7 to Georgia's unsightly 12, etc.). Georgia didn't wear the Tigers down; they simply made the huge fourth quarter plays that mattered. Veteran tailback Richard Samuel provided one with a tackle on the fake punt (arguably a rash call from Gary Pinkel, with the game still at just 24-20) and Jones provided the other two, picking Franklin off to set the Dawgs up at the 1 and later forcing the game-icing fumble.
Whatever difference there is between Georgia and Missouri isn't about roster-wide size and depth. It's about the opposite--the one or two players in Jones defensively and Aaron Murray offensively that can change the game singlehandedly.
WHEN GEORGIA WON. Freshman Bulldog tailback star Todd Gurley didn't have a major impact on the game (though with 65 yards on just 10 carries, there's an argument to be made he should have been given the opportunity to make more of one), but his 1-yard plunge following Jones's interception -- putting Georgia up 34-20 with 7:33 to play -- pretty well sealed Missouri's fate.
WHAT GEORGIA WON. Judging by Auburn's woes, one of only two challenging road games on the Bulldogs' entire schedule, the other being their trip to the other Columbia, South Carolina's. If the Dawgs hold serve at home (where Tennessee appears to be the biggest threat), only the Gamecocks and the World's Largest Cocktail Party stand between them at 12-0. Yes, it's early, but that doesn't mean Saturday's win wasn't a massive on for the Dawgs, especially with the suspensions in their defense.
WHAT MISSOURI LOST. Given that the Tigers still have a West division date with Alabama, probably any real chance of pipping the Bulldogs for a surprise SEC East title. But most of the Tigers' goals for their inaugural SEC season won't be too badly affected. If anything stings, it's that the Tigers had the atmosphere, the second-half lead, the torrent of Bulldog first-half mistakes ... and still couldn't seize the opportunity for what would have been a landmark win.