No. 1 Georgia, No. 14 Missouri to place SEC East and CFP hopes on the line
Thu, Nov 2, 2023
NCAAF News (AP)
ATHENS, Ga. (AP) - The Southeastern Conference standings and AP Top 25 poll cast a spotlight on what will be at stake Saturday when No. 1 Georgia puts its 25-game winning streak on the line against No. 14 Missouri.
The season's first College Football Playoff ranking only added heat to the spotlight.
Georgia (8-0, 5-0 SEC, No. 2 CFP) holds the top spot in The AP Top 25 for the 20th consecutive week, the longest streak in SEC history, but it sits behind Ohio State in the first CFP ranking. A win over Missouri (7-1, 3-1, No. 12 CFP) would help the Bulldogs' strength-of-schedule case to return to the playoff.
Missouri comes to Athens with its highest CFP ranking in school history. A win over Georgia would send the Tigers higher in the CFP ranking while also giving Missouri the upper hand in the race to advance to the SEC championship game in Atlanta.
It is the first of three consecutive SEC East matchups against Top 25 teams for Georgia, which plays No. 11 Mississippi next week, followed by a visit to No. 19 Tennessee.
Georgia gained momentum with last week's 43-20 victory over Florida despite playing without star tight end Brock Bowers, who is expected to miss a month following ankle surgery.
The Bulldogs made an impression on Missouri coach Eliah Drinkwitz as Carson Beck threw two touchdown passes, Daijun Edwards ran for two scores and the offense compiled 486 yards in the runaway win over Florida. It was the 24th consecutive SEC win for coach Kirby Smart's two-time defending national champion Bulldogs.
"I think Coach Smart and his staff have done probably the best job they've done since they've been there to be in the situation that they're in currently," Drinkwitz said.
Beck and Missouri's Brady Cook rank second and third, respectively, among the SEC's leaders in passing yards.
TIGERS BOAST BALANCE
Missouri has scored 30 or more points in six straight games.
Cook's top target is receiver Luther Burden III while tailback Cody Schrader ranks second in the SEC with 807 rushing yards and is tied for the lead with nine touchdowns on the ground.
Smart said Cook "is very experienced, which is the number one quality you look for in a quarterback is how many games has he played in, what experience has he had, has he played on the road in our conference. He's done all those things, and he's done them really well."
Added Smart: "He's playing at a high level, and he's doing it with some weapons offensively."
BECK PLAYING LIKE STAFFORD, MURRAY
Beck completed 19 of 28 passes for 315 yards and the two touchdowns and did not throw an interception against Florida. He has completed 73% of his passes for the season, a school-record pace that ranks seventh in the nation.
Stetson Bennett set the Georgia record by completing 68.28% of his passes last season, but Beck reminds Drinkwitz of other Bulldogs quarterbacks.
"I mean, if you didn't know any better, you would think (offensive coordinator Mike Bobo) was playing with Matthew Stafford or Aaron Murray," Drinkwitz said, referring to two of the top passers in school history.
Stafford played at Georgia from 2006-08 and was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 NFL draft by Detroit. Murray set SEC career records for passing yards and touchdowns from 2010-13.
TIGERS' CFP HISTORY
Missouri landed in the CFP ranking for the first time since it was No. 25 in week 14 of the 2020 season. This is the Tigers' highest ranking and earliest appearance. It was No. 16 in the final 2014 CFP vote for its previous highest ranking.
2022 SCARE FOR BULLDOGS
The Bulldogs had to rally from a 10-point deficit to win at Missouri 26-22 last season, their biggest regular-season scare. Center Sedrick Van Pran says Georgia players respect Missouri.
"It's understanding your opponent, understanding what they do and having the level of respect for them that they deserve," Van Pran said. "They've been a tremendous team this year and they will continue to be a tremendous team. ... You have to accept the challenge and you have to go out there and execute to the highest level as well."
Georgia leads the series 11-1. The Tigers beat the Bulldogs 41-26 in Athens in 2013 on their way to winning the SEC East.
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AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/college-footballCHARLES ODUM I cover Atlanta pro sports and college sports in Georgia. twitter mailto "