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No. 1-ranked Georgia reigned supreme again, dominating Missouri in a 43-6 win at Sanford Stadium.
The Bulldogs (9-0, 7-0 SEC) shut the Tigers (4-5, 1-4 SEC) up from first snap to last, not allowing a single touchdown. A garbage time goal line stand in the waning seconds of the contest emphasized another ferocious performance by the stop squad.
Missouri was held to a mere 273 total yards of offense in the loss.
The SEC East champions were led offensively by quarterback Stetson Bennett, who started over now-healthy JT Daniels. Bennett finished 13-of-19 passing for 255 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Daniels did relieve Bennett in the third quarter for his first game action in six weeks, finishing 7-of-11 passing for 82 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception.
Running back James Cook led Georgia on the ground with 41 yards rushing a score on 9 attempts. As a team, the Bulldogs finished with 168 yards rushing.
Georgia will travel to Neyland Stadium next weekend for its matchup with Tennessee.
Georgia 26, Missouri 3, 0:18: James Cook 1-yard run (Podlesny kick). Drive: 9 plays, 74, yards, 2:42.
Georgia 19, Missouri 3, 5:05: Jack Podlesny 20-yard field goal. Drive: 8 plays, 62 yards, 3:05.
Georgia 16, Missouri 3, 12:27: Zamir White 1-yard run (Podlesny kick). Drive: 5 plays, 62 yards, 2:29.
Georgia 9, Missouri 3, 14:12: Safety, blocked punt out of back of end zone.
Georgia 7, Missouri 3, 0:42:Arian Smith 35-yard pass from Stetson Bennett (Podlesny kick). Drive: 11 plays, 75 yards, 5:08.
Missouri 3, Georgia 0, 5:50: Harrison Mevis 36-yard field goal. Drive: 7 plays, 31 yards. Key play: 27-yard punt return to UGA 49.
ATHENS — Kirk Herbstreit is asking the same question that the Georgia offensive football staff is asking coach Kirby Smart every week when it comes to the quarterback position.
“Do you keep going with Stetson Bennett, who’s kinda that feisty, overachiever, chip on his shoulder, brings a little quickness, mobility (guy),” Herbstreit said on his podcast with ESPN podcast host Matt Barrie.
“Or, do you go back to the guy that was groomed for this position his whole life and might be a little bit more polished, and maybe gives you more of a higher ceiling?”
Smart has stayed vague on the Georgia quarterback position all week leading into today’s noon game against Missouri (TV: ESPN) at Sanford Stadium, not announcing a starter in a contest the Bulldogs are favored to win by 40 points.
“You’re not going to sit here and tell me that JT Daniels isn’t the more talented quarterback — we know this about JT Daniels,” Barrie said.
But, Barrie added, “the way that Georgia has built themselves this year, which is defense, defense, defense, they’ve got a quarterback in Stetson Bennett that’s good enough to get it done.”
Barrie said he appreciated how Smart and the Bulldogs are fine with having a defense-first identity in an era of offensive football.
“I can’t remember the last time, especially in this era of college football where it’s offense, offense, where there’s a team that will show up and get turned on by how they play defense,” Barrie said. “And they are fine with it. They are absolutely fine with it, they know that’s who they are.”
Herbstreit shared a conversation he had with UGA offensive coordinator Todd Monken, who was originally brought in to build an explosive, high-scoring offense.
“I think JT Daniels a flat liner emotionally, he’ll make a throw and whether it’s a touchdown or an incompletion or an interception, and he’s kinda the same guy,” Herbstreit said. “Now, he’s a student of the game. And Monken told me this year his pre-snap ability to look into the eyes of a defense … is elite.
“He’s still trying to master the system and where to go with the ball, if they move pre-snap to post. But as far as that aspect of knowing where to go with the ball, having answers, he said he’s at an elite level.”
But Herbstreit, like Barrie, likes the idea of Georgia playing a scrappy, former walk-on with something to prove.
“He plays kind of a way, he has a chip on his shoulder,” Herbstreit said. “Everyone’s told him he sucks. Everyone’s told him, ‘Look at you. What? You’re not the quarterback at Georgia.’ He takes all that personally. I think he’s doing a better job of protecting the ball.
“I keep going back to that wiggle. He does just enough wiggle and just enough ‘screw you’ kind of approach that the combination of those two things provides the intangibles that you need, that fit with everything else Georgia has going for them.”
The Bulldogs rank No. 1 in scoring defense, No. 2 in total defense, No. 2 in pass defense and No. 2 in rushing defense.
Offensively, UGA is 51st in total offense (9th SEC), 38th in rushing (6th SEC), 73rd in passing (9th SEC) and 14th in scoring (3rd SEC).