Three takeaways from No. 12 Missouri Tigers’ SEC loss at No. 2 Georgia Bulldogs

The University of Missouri football team hung with Georgia for the first half of Saturday’s SEC East showdown at Sanford Stadium but couldn’t keep up after the break.

The back-to-back national champion Bulldogs roared to a 30-21 win.

The Tigers gave Georgia another scare a year after taking them the distance in Columbia. But UGA showed why it has now won 26 straight SEC games.

Here’s how the division-decider unfolded in Athens:

Can’t keep those Dawgs down

After a tame first half, the Bulldogs took the field in the third quarter with a bone to grind.

Kendall Milton was the first to the edge on UGA’s first second-half drive, and, for once, there was no stopping him. Mizzou had limited tailbacks Milton and Daijun Edwards to 41 harmless yards in the first half. The pair finished with 121.

UGA quarterback Carson Beck, who took a couple of sacks and was mostly inefficient against a stout Mizzou defense and pass rush in the first half, got his weapons going. The quarterback found Oscar Delp in the middle of the end zone to give UGA its first two-score lead right at the end of the third quarter.

Ladd McConkey was a key cog, rollingup 95 yards. Former Tiger Dominic Lovett scored and had 33 yards and a touchdown against his former team. Beck finished with 254 yards and two touchdowns.

And the Georgia defense that has been so good for so long was near flawless from the third quarter on.

Tykee Smith left a mark on MU quarterback Brady Cook, knocking him to the ground on third down on the Tigers’ first drive of the third quarter. That forced MU to settle for a field goal after a promising drive.

Defensive lineman Nazir Stackhouse picked off Cook in the fourth quarter, which helped the Bulldogs make it a two-score contest late in the game.

Mizzou started fast at UGA

Things were going pretty well early at Sanford Stadium. So well that the Tigers were able to strut a little.

Luther Burden III flexed his might, and Cook even peered over to the Georgia sideline, arms outstretched with upturned palms, the corners of his mouth turned down in a mock frown.

If there were any questions about the Missouri offense — whether MU could hang with the best — they were answered early in this one.

After a drive sustained by Cody Schrader, Cook and the run game, Mizzou took the top off the UGA secondary at its first opportunity — and it worked. Burden hauled in a 39-yard touchdown.

This, after MU held UGA to a field goal on its opening drive.

Cook chucked 50-50 balls to his array of talented receivers, and those targets came through often enough that MU reached halftime tied at 10.

Schrader shimmied and shook off contact more effectively than he has all season. The SEC’s leading rusher entering this game, he finished with 112 yards and a gutsy fourth-quarter touchdown run.

And Harrison Mevis, who was perfect on two field-goal attempts, broke Missouri’s all-time scoring record during the game, reaching 365 career points.

Where does Missouri stand?

An SEC Championship Game berth is out of the question for Mizzou now.

Georgia (9-0, 6-0 SEC) seized firm control of the SEC East race. Missouri (7-2, 3-2), with two SEC losses, cannot catch the Bulldogs, who now hold the tiebreaker.

The Bulldogs haven’t wrapped up an appearance in Atlanta, as they must still play Tennessee, but they have one foot in the door.

The Tigers, meanwhile, will play host to Tennessee and Florida at home and Arkansas on the road in the final three weeks of the regular season.

The Star has partnered with the Columbia Daily Tribune for coverage of Missouri Tigers athletics.