Not the James Franklin you hate. This one's pretty good.
Background: The Georgia Bulldogs play the Missouri Tigers on September 8, 2012 at Faurot Field in Columbia, MO. This is both schools' first SEC game, scheduled for a 7:45pm Eastern kickoff on ESPN 2. It's quickly becoming a huge game for Mizzou as they take their first shot at working the SEC slate, with ticket pricing skyrocketing and hotel space at a premium. Old traditions clash in a new way as Georgia takes the gridiron at Faurot Field. It's a smaller venue than many of our rivals at around 75,000, but not without its own strong traditions and fan base. The seating is set back from the field a little (unlike that Stillwater joint), and has open ends and no upper deck. It won't be as loud as we experience in other hostile locales. 90% of the fans though, will be in bright gold.
Head Coach: Gary Pinkel (Long friend of Nick Saban)
Mascot: Tigers! (We play 3, maybe 4 Tigers in 2013)
Colors: Black and Gold (At least their gold and mascot go together)
Last Year in the Big 12: 8-5 with a win in the Independence Bowl
SB Nation Affiliate: Rock M Nation
Some analysis after the jump along with some Q&A with Rock M Nation's Bill C and my parting shots.
Why it's a big deal: Missouri's first SEC Conference game. Mizzou's home coming out party. Against the signature victory awarding Georgia Bulldogs. Mizzou can get off to a great start with a win and set tempo. UGA can see it's East hopes challenged with a loss and lose focus. Hot seat talk will be revived with a UGA loss. UGA can plummet from a top ten standing immediately. And as it's widely known, UGA is missing a set of DBs in this game, along with missing our former star at RB. UGA isn't brining its full potential to Columbia which is fueling the naysayers.
Why it's not a big deal: Standard SEC early road game for UGA. Mizzou will quickly learn all SEC tilts become a big deal, this one isn't really extra special. The game will be overshadowed by much bigger games for both teams as the year progresses. UGA can still win it's division with a loss. MIzzou's home field advantage shouldn't be a bother a UGA team that travels to much more hostile venues.
Media hate: Georgia can lose this game and still make it to Atlanta. That's important to keep in mind. But the media has an ugly, serrated double edged knife on this game. UGA wins, it will quickly be dismissed as Mizzou isn't that good, and Georgia has an easy schedule. The Bulldogs lose, and the media will make sure to remind everyone of it 10 weeks later by praising Mizzou for their first conference win. Best UGA comes out with a win of some sorts, even an ugly one.
Keys for Missouri: Stay focused on the task at hand. Play smart and hard all 4 quarters as it's likely we will get a quick strike in there somewhere. Slice UGA up with the mid range passing game and mix up tempos, and don't forsake the run altogether. Trickeration could be employed often with success, UGA is known to get fooled in obvious situations. Leave nothing in the bag if that's what it takes. Try and take UGA's run away. Win on STs.
Keys for Georgia: Don't buy into the hype, it's your first conference game as well, and not your first SEC road trip ever. Establish the run. Then run hard. Control the field, clock and ball smartly with punts and knowing when to go for it on 4th. Try and generate some rhythm on Offense. Make Mizzou one dimensional by taking away the run. Be aggressive on looks and blitzes. Don't get cute on offense. Use QB Aaron Murray in a variety of ways and let him lead. Stay in the game mentally.
Because there is some unfamiliarity with the team and location, I chatted with Rock M Nation's Manager Bill C:
1) What do you most need to do to beat UGA & what do you least need to do? What excites you the most and what scares you the most?
The biggest question mark from my perspective comes when Missouri has the ball. At this point in the preseason, we don't know how James Franklin's shoulder is healing after a spring injury (though indications are that he should be 100 percent by the time the season starts), and since the offensive coaching staff tends to tinker with the formula each offseason, making adjustments based on the talent at hand, we don't really know what the offense will look like on September 8.
That said, Missouri will probably need to be able to run the ball well to beat Georgia, and it's unclear whether they will be able to. Through his first three years, running back Kendial Lawrence has not necessarily been a fast starter; he's been much stronger in November than September, in other words. But with Henry Josey out, he and sophomore Marcus Murphy will likely be carrying the rushing load. Maybe that's alright, but we don't know that yet.
Second concern: Aaron Murray gets an early shot against a pretty green set of Mizzou safeties.
2) Who should we be watching?
The obvious first choice is WR Dorial Green-Beckham, simply because a) he's Mizzou's most highly-touted recruit in 25 years, and b) we have no idea what he'll be capable of just one game into his career. And on defense, this will be a lovely test for DT Sheldon Richardson, himself a five-star prospect out of high school, to show what he's got against an "SEC line." Georgia obviously has some questionable experience up front (more at tackle than guard, but still), and a good day from Richardson could go a long way toward a Mizzou win.
3) Tell me about Columbia, we have a lot of fans traveling there for the first time. What's the hot spots and eateries? Are there any traditions to observe? Do we need to bring extra unmarked firearms?
In terms of unique eateries, Columbia is enough of a typical college town that we've got the "must eat" pizza spot (Shakespeares), burger spot (Booches), etc. If you start at one of those places (both of which will be swamped on game day), then just make your way south, through campus, to the stadium, you'll get a pretty good idea of what Mizzou has to offer.
As for traditions, there isn't necessarily anything unique to Mizzou that you absolutely have to see. They do a Tiger Walk similar to, I believe, Auburn, and they carry the goalposts from the stadium downtown to Harpo's when they tear them down, but I'm assuming that won't be in the cards for this game if Mizzou wins. Really, we just have a pretty campus, enjoy tailgating, and chant "MIZ-ZOU" a lot.
And no, no firearms will be necessary. Missouri does love itself some fireWORKS, however ... so if you want to make some friends ...
Thanks for that info Bill C! And you can check this website for visitors info at the University of Missouri. I haven't been to Shakespeare's pizza, but I have heard of it and seen it on the tv. It's all the rage.
Trivia Question for the day: Where does the name Tigers come from? Well, the name comes from a band of armed guards called the Missouri Tigers who, in 1864, protected Columbia from Confederate guerrillas during the Civil War.
Chuckdawg's superfried prediction: Our D Line is going to light up their O line reducing any Mizzou need for post game fireworks. If they need to be able to run the ball to win, then that greatly benefits us as that will be a very difficult task. With James Franklin's health still questionable that helps our newly found DBs, and as good as Green-Beckham is, he's only one man. Also, Malcolm Mitchell is doing really well at the CB position, so we get a little relief there. We have too many weapons on O, and too good a D. Coach Richt and staff always seem to be a touch more focused on these types of road games. UGA 27- MU 13.