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Georgia 26, Mizzou 22: The Fear of Living Dangerously

NCAA Football: Georgia at Missouri Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Turn the ball over. Lose the battle up front. Fail to put the ball in the endzone when you get inside the 20. There are a lot of ways to lose football games, but those are about as close to a Holy Trinity of football failure as you can get.

Georgia did every one of these things tonight. Repeatedly. Frustratingly.

Right up until they didn’t.

Make no mistake, Georgia absolutely deserved to lose this football game. They were roundly outplayed for three quarters by a Missouri team that showed more urgency, more poise, and, frankly, more guts.

Right up until they didn’t.

When it absolutely mattered the most a series of Missouri mistakes, (a false start penalty on the 1 yard line, a hands to the face penalty on what would’ve been a first down conversion) gave the Red and Black the window they needed to escape with a 26-22 victory.

Stetson Bennett completed only 55.8% of his passes, and before he got hot in the fourth quarter was on track for the first time in his Georgia career as a starter to complete less than half of his throws.

Todd Monken deserves a great deal of credit for leaning into the run in the second half, switching from man to gap blocking to counter a Tiger front that was dominating the Bulldog offensive line.

Stunts by Blake Baker’s unit utterly abused the Georgia OL in the first half, especially Sedrick Van Pran-Granger and Tate Ratledge. The ‘Dawgs averaged 7.6 yards on the ground in the fourth quarter. But up until that point Georgia’s offensive line looked disturbingly like it did the last time it was coached by Stacy Searels.

Defensively Georgia continues to give up the big plays keen observers expected a unit replacing most of its starters and leaders to give up. However the ‘Dawgs actually only surrendered a respectable 294 yards of offense on the night and stiffened when it mattered. Mizzou was 0 for 5 on third down in the second half, which made a huge difference. The halting Bulldog offense needed every one of those stops to get the ball back and try to get itself cranking.

The Bulldogs now come back home to face an Auburn team fighting for Bryan Harsin’s coaching life and which showed surprising signs of life offensively tonight against LSU before ultimately succumbing. The nagging doubts fostered by last week’s Kent State game have swelled to shouts after a game which easily could have been the Bulldogs’ first loss in over nine months.

The Red and Black very nearly fumbled, faltered and fell from the ranks of the unbeaten because, as Kirby Smart said after the game, every week in the SEC (especially on the road) is a battle. Until later…

Go ‘Dawgs!!!