COLUMBIA, Mo. — Georgia football coach Kirby Smart didn’t seem too upset last week when MAC opponent Kent State pressured the Bulldogs at home in a 17-game win. points.
The Bulldogs were never really in danger back then.
Unlike Saturday night, when the top-ranked Bulldogs had all sorts of trouble finding their footing against unranked Missouri and looked set to fall into a shocking upheaval.
Instead, the Bulldogs overcame a 10-point deficit with 14:09 left and went ahead with 4:03 left on Daijun Edwards’ 1-yard touchdown, his first score of the season.
Georgia, the 29½-point favorite, survived with a 26-22 win.
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They won on a night where Georgia turned the ball over early, their secondary was burned in the passing game, and the Tigers stuffed Georgia’s running game for much of the night until the fourth quarter.
Harrison Mevis of Missouri went 5 for 5 on field goals, including 52 and 56 yards. He pumped his fist after a 49-yard field goal in the first half.
The Tigers would have won their first-ever game against a team ranked No. 1 in the polls. They beat an Oklahoma team in 2010 that was ranked No. 1 in the BCS.
Here are five takeaways as Georgia earned its ninth straight win over Missouri and improved to 5-0, 2-0 in the SEC:
Georgia Bulldogs finally come in late to take the lead
Georgia couldn’t find the end zone before a Kendall Milton 1-yard touchdown with 9:39 left to cap a 10-play, 75-yard drive.
Next, Stetson Bennett led Georgia on a 7-play, 68-yard drive. He completed a 13-yard pass to Dom Blaylock, hit tight end Brock Bowers on a quick pass out for 12 yards, then Edwards came in from 1 to give Georgia the lead for the first time.
Bennett went 24 of 44 for 312 yards and didn’t throw for a touchdown for the second straight week.
More importantly, Georgia found a way to win on a night they nearly lost to a Missouri team that fell 2-3, 0-2 in the SEC.
Georgia averaged 8.4 yards per play in its first two drives of the fourth quarter when it scored its two touchdowns.
Georgia Bulldogs offense crumbles at start and in red zone
Georgia has scored 46 first-quarter points in its first four games and scored at least one touchdown in the first 15 minutes of each of its first four games.
This time, the Bulldogs didn’t enter the end zone until Milton’s 1-yard touchdown with 9:39 left in the game cut the lead to 22-19.
It was a shocking development by an offense that had scored 13 touchdowns in the first half of its games entering Saturday.
The Bulldogs averaged 42.2 points per game, 17th in the nation.
Georgia trailed for the first time this season at 3-0 and the Tigers’ lead increased to 13-0.
The Bulldogs passed just 49 yards in 11 plays in the first quarter and 35 of them came on a Milton run down the middle that ended with Tigers linebacker Ty’Ron Hooper losing the ball and Missouri recovered.
The Bulldogs punted three times and had a pair of three outs and just one first down in the quarter.
Ladd McConkey, who had two fumbles last week, dropped a pass down the middle that ended a drive.
Bennett was just 10 of 24 for 149 yards in the first half. Star tight end Bowers wasn’t targeted until 11:15 in the second quarter. He led Georgia with four catches for 54 yards.
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Georgia’s red-zone woes continued despite being a focal point of this game week.
The Bulldogs had to settle for field goals from Jack Podlesny on his first three trips to the red zone. He converted 40, 34, 22 and 29 on the night as Georgia trailed 19-12 with 2:15 left in the third quarter.
Secondary issues harm Georgian football
With Georgia missing suspended starter Javon Bullard, the Bulldogs saw Missouri starting quarterback Brady Cook complete 14 of 18 passes for 129 yards in the first half.
Cook hit Tyler Stephens wide open for a 10-yard touchdown with 12:43 left in the second quarter.
West Virginia transfer Tykee Smith started in place of Bullard, who was arrested on Sunday for a DUI and six other misdemeanors.
Missouri rode Mevis for much of their scoring. He was cash a week after missing a short field goal in the Tigers’ overtime loss to Auburn.
Cody Schrader blew through the Georgia defense on a 63-yard run down the middle in the second quarter, but freshman safety Malaki Starks saved a touchdown by dragging Schrader down at 1. Missouri had to settle for a field goal after a false start penalty. Starks had a pass breakup on a deep ball in the fourth quarter.
Kelee Ringo was beaten in single coverage on a 46-yard completion against Mookie Cooper. Georgia’s defense held but Mevis threw for the 52-yarder. Ringo was called for pass interference on the next drive.
Revenue difficulties continue for Georgia
After three turnovers last week — two from McConkey on a one-reception fumble and a missed punt and interception from Bennett — Georgia had two in the first half.
Bennett fumbled after appearing to put the ball in running back Daijun Edwards’ stomach.
Meanwhile, Georgia forced no first-half turnovers on Missouri.
The Bulldogs’ three turnovers lost last week tied the all-game high of the past two seasons. Georgia outscored its opponents so much that they all picked up wins – against Kent State, Charleston Southern, Florida and South Carolina. The two games Georgia had three turnovers in 2020 were losses — to Florida and Alabama.
Georgia’s racing game gets off to a slow start
Dell McGee was on the hunt for a future running back Friday night in California, checking out 2023 four-star prospect Roderick Robinson of San Diego.
Georgia rushed for just 33 yards on 11 carries in the first half, but finished with 169 yards on 36 carries.
Edwards had 2 yards on two carries and Kenny McIntosh’s only rush was minus-4 yards.
McIntosh picked up 9 yards on the first offensive snap of the second half.
Georgia’s offensive line couldn’t get much push against a Missouri team, allowing 108.5 rushing yards, 34th in the nation.
A false start from center Sedrick Van Pran-Granger came one play before Bennett was hit on a pass by defensive end Trajan Jeffcoat on an incomplete. Bennett then threw behind wide receiver Dillon Bell.
On a fourth-and-a-1 in the fourth quarter, McIntosh gained three yards to set up Milton’s touchdown.