One team’s chances of winning the BCS National Championship could potentially get slashed on national television Saturday when the Missouri Tigers (5-0, 2-0 away) pay a visit to those injury-depleted Georgia Bulldogs (4-1, 3-0 home) at Sanford Stadium in Athens, GA at 12:00 Noon ET in a game televised nationally on ESPN.
The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Missouri as a nice underdog for this contest with the current line at +8 with odds of -106.
A Georgia team at full strength certainly belongs in the national title conversation, but unfortunately an already beat up Bulldogs’ team lost even more ammunition during a 34-31 overtime comeback win at Tennessee last week, and they are now most likely without their top two running backs (which may have been the best tandem in the country in Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall) and two of their top three wide receivers for this contest.
Meanwhile, with relatively little fanfare, it is Missouri that is the SEC team entering this game undefeated and the Tigers entered the AP Poll this week at number 25. In fact, the yardage figures for both of these teams have been very similar on both sides of the ball thus far, so the fact that Missouri is the much healthier team could lead to a possible upset!
Granted, it is extremely difficult for road teams to win in Athens, where it was believed that Georgia cleared its path to a showdown with Alabama in the SEC Championship Game by winning what was supposed to be it biggest home test of the year in a thrilling 44-41 victory over the LSU Tigers two weeks ago, but now suddenly they may face a somewhat unexpected test here with so many play-makers on the sideline.
Sure the Bulldogs still have Aaron Murray to lead an offense averaging 530.0 total yards per game, and they are facing a Missouri defense allowing 410.4 yards per contest. However, the Tigers are still only allowing 3.6 yards per rush and 6.6 yards per pass attempt, and Murray may not be as effective as usual with wide receiver Justin Scott-Wesley lost for the season to a torn ACL last week, the identical fate suffered by the running back Marshall.
The Tigers certainly have the firepower on offense to match Georgia as Missouri is now averaging 46.6 points and 543.8 total yards per game, leading the school to its fifth 5-0 start during the 13-year tenure of Coach Gary Pinkel. Most recently, Missouri went on the road and blew out the Vanderbilt Commodores 51-28 as a small 2½-point favorite last week.
Missouri is very balanced averaging 258.8 rushing yards and 285.0 passing yards per game, but we feel it is the arm of quarterback James Franklin that gives the Tigers the chance at an upset vs. a Georgia defense allowing 403.8 total yards per game, because while the Bulldogs are allowing a solid 3.8 yards per rush, they have been vulnerable vs. the pass surrendering 8.1 yards per attempt.
Franklin has completed 67.7 percent of his passes this year while throwing for a shade over 1400 yards and averaging 8.4 yards per pass attempt, and he has an excellent ratio of 13 touchdown passes vs. three interceptions. Also, the fact that Missouri has three running backs averaging better than 5.0 yards per rush and Franklin has 5.2 yards per carry himself forces Georgia to respect the run, which could allow Franklin to have even more success passing.
Whether or not that will be good enough for the upset may be debatable, but regardless, Missouri looks like a nice investment ATS catching more than a touchdown on Saturday.
College Football Pick: Missouri +8 (-106)