As it turns out, Georgia tripping all over itself in the latest edition of The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party was as costly as it gets for the Bulldogs.
The UGA faithful were rightly optimistic as Arkansas absolutely controlled Missouri in the first half, jumping out to a 14-6 lead that seemed bigger than what it actually was. What it actually wasn’t, however, was a lead big enough as Mizzou came back in the second half to both win the game 21-14 and stake its claim to a second straight SEC East title.
Mizzou still trailed by that same first-half deficit of 14-6 heading into the fourth quarter. A pair of touchdowns and a two-point conversion, however — Maty Mauk‘s four-yard touchdown pass with 12:41 left, Marcus Murphy‘s 12-yard touchdown run with 4:38 remaining — sent the Tigers to Atlanta.
That Mauk scoring toss, incidentally, was the first touchdown allowed by the Razorbacks defense since the Nov. 1 game against Mississippi State.
UA did have one last chance to tie the game late in the game. However, Alex Collins‘ fumble was recovered by the Tigers with just over two minutes left and essentially ended the game.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that, despite the losing effort, you won’t see a more gutsy performance football-wise than what Brandon Allen laid on the field, especially in the second half. UA’s starting quarterback was questionable heading into the game due to injury, and was visibly hobbled late in it. He remained in the game, however, and should be applauded for the heart and guts he showed.
What should be questioned, however, is the decision of Bret Bielema and/or his offensive coordinator to throw on all but one down — a carry that ended in the fumble, oddly enough — of a final drive that began with over four minutes remaining and with his quarterback banged up.
Regardless, Mizzou’s win sends the Tigers to their second consecutive SEC championship game appearance in just their third year in the conference. Thanks to Georgia’s inexplicable loss to Florida, UGA needed a Mizzou loss to send it back to the league title game for the third time in four years.
Just who Mizzou will play next Saturday in the Georgia Dome will be decided tomorrow.
In the SEC West, Alabama and Mississippi State are both 6-1, but the former holds the head-to-head tiebreaker over the latter. Thus, if Alabama beats Auburn in the Iron Bowl, they clinch the West and will square off with Mizzou. Also, if Alabama loses to Auburn and Mississippi State loses to Ole Miss, UA clinches the West. The only way MSU can win the West is if they beat Ole Miss and Alabama loses to Auburn.