It appears Mizzou has learned how to tackle and we would expect Ryan Walters and Brick Haley to amplify pressure up front on Purdue, plugging gaps to stop the run and force the Boilermakers to throw the ball.”
“The defense looks like they have gotten their shit together and are swarming the ball and most importantly tackling.
I actually think this team is better than expected and therefore the ceiling should rise considering the crap shoot that is the SEC East. It is now conceivable this team can win 9 or 10 games. This is not the same team as 2017. There should be no better example of the progress made than the game this week in West Lafayette, Indiana against the Purdue Boilermakers.”
Simply put, the defense was god-awful and looked exactly like the 2017 Tigers. This was not just a failure on the back end of the defense. The front four could not get sustained pressure on the QB and it officially appears that #DLineZou is dead and gone.
They were lucky to get a W against the best 0-3 team in the country. Now maybe this is just a match up issue against Purdue considering in two games Purdue has scored a total of 72 points against Mizzou. But I also fear this is a taste of things to come against Power Five talent. All of that talk about raising the ceiling is out of the window if the defense cannot get their act together. And, to make things worse, this week Mizzou faces the defending SEC Champion and College Football Playoff runner-up No. 2 Georgia Bulldogs.
Before we go into deciding whether the Tigers have a chance in hell against the Bulldogs, let’s look at what makes this team so good. The Bulldogs have a potent but balanced offense, averaging 216.3 yards in the air and 272 yards on the ground. Led by former 5-star QB Jake Fromm, Georgia has plenty of weapons to choose from thanks to star-studded recruiting from coach Kirby Smart. Georgia is stacked with top recruits from around the country and is probably one of the deepest teams in college football. Georgia has five players with at least 90 yards rushing through three games and three with over 100 yards. Two receivers have over 100 yards receiving, led by Mecole Hardman. The Georgia defense ranks 11 in the country in total defense, allowing 258.7 yards per game and only allowing 3 touchdowns total. In week two, the Bulldogs completely humiliated the South Carolina Gamecocks at home in a dominant 41-17 victory. The Bulldogs looked better in every phase of the game, completely overwhelming a team the SEC media has crowned the second-best team in the East.
The question is, can Mizzou win against Georgia?
Sure, there is always a chance, but it is slim. If we look back at the history of Missouri football, there are a few major upsets of top 10 opponents sprinkled throughout. Nebraska in 2003 and Oklahoma in 2010. Both of these games were in Columbia. These teams were led by dynamic QBs in Brad Smith and Blaine Gabbert that could move the ball and make big plays. Drew Lock fits this mold as an athletic, dominant QB that commands an offense that can move the ball. However, after Purdue, I completely lack faith in the defense to make necessary stops that are key to upsets. Even if Mizzou gets into a shootout with the Bulldogs, do we really think the secondary will make a big play? Barry Odom’s defense will be the key for this game and it is up to Ryan Walters and Brick Haley to figure out how to get the most out their defense and come up with a game plan that allows the Tigers to stay within a possession of the Bulldogs if they want to score the major upset.
Unfortunately, for the first time this year, it is most likely Mizzou will be overwhelmed by a football powerhouse and handed a convincing loss. The line opened at Georgia -15.5 and I am not sure they will even cover. The important thing will be to ensure a potential loss against Georgia does not spiral into a losing streak with South Carolina and Alabama coming up next.