NCAA Football

Georgia vs. Missouri: TV Info, Spread, Injury Updates, Game Time and More

Chaos reigns supreme in what is a historically stacked SEC West, but early Saturday, the attention shifts to the SEC East as the leaders of the division clash when No. 23 Missouri hosts No. 13 Georgia.

Mark Richt's Bulldogs have yet to drop a game since the fateful three-point loss to South Carolina in early September. Missouri, mere weeks removed from a strange loss to Indiana, enters Saturday with heads held high after a stunning 21-20 upset of that same Gamecocks team.

Georgia is similar to Arkansas in the West—the team lines up and does little to disguise the fact it wants to run the ball down the opposition's throat. But if there is an underrated defense that can stunt the attack, it would be Gary Pinkel's unit.

Expect a memorable encounter Saturday in a war of strengths.

 

No-Fly Zone

Who can blame Richt for having yet to call more than 26 passes in a game?

With a back like Todd Gurley, who is easily in front of the Heisman race at this juncture, the staff has to ask relatively little of senior quarterback Hutson Mason in his first year under center as the starter. 

As if having the best back in the land on the roster was not enough, Gurley is also quietly flanked by two superb talents in Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. The tandem forms a triple-headed monster of staggering production:

Perhaps scariest of all, there are those who feel that the No. 6 scoring offense in the land, which averages 45.0 points per game, is still warming up.

"We feel great about what we're doing," said wideout Chris Conley, per STATS LLC, via ESPN.com. "We feel good that we're getting better each week. In order to get back (to the SEC championship game) we have to get better each week and that starts in practice."

Keep in mind that, should the ground game happen to struggle Saturday, Richt and his staff toyed with putting freshman signal-caller Brice Ramsey in during a 44-17 win against Vanderbilt last week. That option appears to be on the table should Mason struggle in a hostile environment.

Then again, Richt would probably rather lean on his trio of backs. Such is the dilemma of a top program in the SEC.

 

Momentum and Standouts

Missouri has a couple game-changers of its own, and both happen to fall on the defensive side of the football.

Richt, of course, is well aware of the names Markus Golden and Shane Ray, as captured by Marc Weiszer of the Athens Banner-Herald:

The two lead a Missouri defense that surrenders just 20.6 points per game and has 18 sacks so far, good for the No. 2 rank in the nation. Ray himself has eight of those to go along with 11.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage.

Of note more than anything else is that Ray's defense held South Carolina to 338 total yards and a miserable 8-of-21 mark on third downs.

Speaking of that win, which came via two stunning rushing touchdowns by Russell Hansbrough within the final seven minutes of the game, the Tigers enter Saturday at home with a load of positive momentum.

That is a tough thing to overcome for the Bulldogs, although Gurley and Co. will surely put Ray's defense to its biggest test to date.

 

When: Saturday, October 11, Noon ET

Where: Memorial Stadium at Faurot Field, Columbia, Missouri

Television: CBS

Betting Lines (via Odds Shark):

  • Over/Under: 59.5
  • Spread: Georgia (-3)

 

Team Injury Reports

Injury reports per Sports Network, via USA Today.

 

Prediction

As great as the Missouri defense can be at times, one has to wonder how well it will hold up against an elite ground game. 

Gaudy sack totals mean little if Gurley is free to run up the field consistently, which at this point seems a given no matter who he lines up against. If the Tigers do fall behind, it is tough to figure out how they score enough points in limited opportunities with Gurley killing the clock, either, not with quarterback Maty Mauk going 12-of-34 for 132 yards last week.

Georgia is a more complete team, and honestly, a player such as Gurley makes the difference in these sorts of encounters. Expect another resounding Heisman performance.

Prediction: Georgia 34, Missouri 30

 

Statistics and info courtesy of ESPN unless otherwise specified.

 

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Texas vs. Oklahoma: TV Info, Spread, Injury Updates, Game Time and More

The 109th Red River Showdown between Texas and No. 11 Oklahoma remains one of the highlights of the 2014 season in general.

Texas is 2-3 and is limping into the contest after a 28-7 loss to Baylor. Oklahoma is doing much of the same after its College Football Playoff hopes were put in serious jeopardy after a four-point loss to then-ranked No. 25 TCU.

But as Kevin McGuire of CollegeFootballTalk muses, the historic rivalry is still an important part of each season:

Oklahoma heads to the Cotton Bowl angry, but it can in no way afford to take the bumbling Longhorns lightly. These encounters tend to bring out the absolute best from both sides, and this year will be more of the same no matter the paths traveled to Dallas.

 

Trumping History Recent and Beyond

Oklahoma has been down this path before. 

After beating up on five teams, the Sooners went to Dallas last year as the heavy favorite, only to get punched in the mouth and never recover on the way to a 36-20 loss at the hands of the Longhorns.

This year, the course has been anything but encouraging for Bob Stoops, who has never allowed the Sooners to lose back-to-back conference games.

Stoops' defense has been an absolute mess, allowing 33 points in each of its last two games. In a win against West Virginia, the defense yielded 376 passing yards and two scores along with 137 yards and two more scores on the ground.

Last week in that loss to TCU, it was much of the same story, as the Horned Frogs found 318 yards and two scores through the air and 151 yards and two more scores on the ground.

Stoops himself says the issues reside at a basic fundamental level, as captured by The Associated Press (via ESPN.com):

I believe a lot of it is easily correctable, and some of it's just discipline and fundamentals. I'm not going to detail it because then, you're calling out these young guys, and that's not the right thing to do. In the end, some of it is very fundamental in what we do, and for whatever reason, even guys with a lot of experience didn't do it very well, so we've got to do a better job coaching them and they've got to do a better job being mindful of their disciplines and what we're doing.

Texas struggles offensively, sure, but the Sooners are playing at a woeful level. The offense can score, as it averages 42.4 points per game to rank in the top 15. But a bad performance from the defense can have a ripple effect as seen last week when Trevor Knight threw for 309 yards with one touchdown to two interceptions.

Undisciplined football in this rivalry cost the Sooners last year. A repeat performance, even though the Longhorns are worse off, would produce a similar end result.

 

Hoping for a Breakout

"Hope" is the best way to describe things for Charlie Strong and the Longhorns. 

Anwar Richardson of Rivals.com puts things into perspective:

Strong has to hope that his offense, led by sophomore quarterback Tyrone Swoopes, can score better than the 13.2 points per game it has averaged in its last four showings.

Swoopes has been a liability this season, throwing for just 734 yards and five touchdowns to three interceptions while completing 59.4 percent of his passes. The staff seemed to unearth some value with his legs last week, though, as he rushed for 40 yards, although he threw no scores and two picks.

One thing the Longhorns can do on offense is rush the ball well thanks to the efforts of Johnathan Gray, who averages 4.9 yards per carry and has 301 yards and a score. It helps that the unit also has a star receiver in senior John Harris (370 yards, four touchdowns), who seems to be building a stronger rapport with Swoopes by the week.

Strong has to hope that, through studying how West Virginia and TCU hurt Oklahoma recently, he can uncover ways to get the offense going after brief flashes from the above players. The Sooners defense is ripe for exploiting again, but Texas has to hope for it all to come together at once.

 

When: Saturday, October 11, Noon ET

Where: Cotton Bowl, Dallas, Texas

Television: ABC

Betting Lines (via Odds Shark):

  • Over/Under: 47
  • Spread: Oklahoma (-14.5)

 

Team Injury Reports

Injury reports per Sports Network, via USA Today.

 

Prediction

It is easy to overlook a Texas defense that ranks just outside of the top 20 by only allowing 19.2 points per game, but the offensive issues have overshadowed the unit's efforts on a weekly basis.

Those offensive obstacles are not going to evaporate all at once in a historic rivalry. The last thing Strong and Co. needed this week was an angry Sooners team coming off a loss.

Were this, say, a year from now, the game would be much more competitive. But Strong is operating with a number of pieces that were not his to begin with, and while he has coached in plenty of big games, the Red River Showdown has a way of overwhelming even the most veteran of names.

Not Stoops, whose team has its back against the wall in terms of the CFP. The offense will not be pretty for his side, either, but Stoops' team is more talented top to bottom and will emerge the winner this year.

Prediction: Oklahoma 28, Texas 17

 

Statistics and info courtesy of ESPN unless otherwise specified.

 

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