ATHENS, Ga. (AP) – Jake Fromm threw two touchdown passes to George Pickens and No. 6 Georgia posted its third shutout, dominating a Missouri offense missing two of its biggest playmakers in a 27-0 victory Saturday night.
Georgia (8-1, 5-1 Southeastern Conference, No. 6 College Football Playoff) moved closer to its third straight berth in the SEC championship game. The Bulldogs can clinch the SEC East by beating No. 12 Auburn next week.
Missouri (5-4, 2-3) fell to 0-4 in road games with its third straight loss. Quarterback Kelly Bryant and leading receiver Johnathon Johnson did not play.
Fromm capped Georgia’s opening drive with a 25-yard scoring pass to Pickens. The freshman also made a leaping grab for an 18-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter.
The Bulldogs bolstered their claim as the league’s top defense. Georgia leads the SEC in total defense and scoring defense.
Between Pickens’ touchdown catches, the Bulldogs relied on Rodrigo Blankenship’s four field goals.
Thanks to the dominant defense, little offense was needed. The Bulldogs held the Tigers to 198 yards and 11 first downs, including only five through three quarters.
Bryant’s status had been in doubt due to a hamstring injury suffered in a loss at Kentucky two weeks ago. He participated in pregame warmups and then watched as backup Taylor Powell and Connor Bazelak led the offense.
Powell started and played the full game before Bazelak, a freshman, led the Tigers to their only red-zone appearance late in the game.
Bazelak, playing in only his second game, led the Tigers to the Georgia 1. The Bulldogs’ defense made a stand, stopping Dawson Downing for a loss of three yards. Bazelak’s passes on third and fourth down were incomplete.
The team did not announce a reason Johnson did not play.
Georgia also lost its top receiver when Lawrence Cager hurt his shoulder making a 30-yard catch late in the first half. Cager had six catches for 93 yards before the injury.
Georgia center Trey Hill was helped off the field with a left ankle injury in the first quarter. Right guard Cade Mays moved to center before he also suffered an apparent right leg injury early in the fourth quarter. Jamaree Salyer took over as the Bulldogs’ third center of the night.
The Bulldogs lost right tackle Isaiah Wilson to an undisclosed injury in the fourth quarter.
Fromm and Pickens connected on a 68-yard scoring pass in the fourth quarter that was wiped out by an illegal formation penalty.
Missouri: Without Bryant and Johnson, the Tigers couldn’t generate consistent offense. Powell completed 10 of 22 passes for 84 yards with an interception. Larry Rountree III led Missouri with only 24 yards rushing on nine carries. Bazelak completed 8 of 12 passes for 64 yards.
Georgia: Following an emotional win over Florida, the Bulldogs showed good poise by avoiding a letdown. Facing the SEC’s top pass defense, Fromm was not as efficient as usual. He completed only 13 of 29 passes for 173 yards with no interceptions and two touchdowns. D’Andre Swift had 12 carries for 83 yards, including a 47-yarder.
Following No. 5 Penn State’s loss to No. 13 Minnesota and No. 2 Alabama’s loss to No. 1 LSU, Georgia may move up at least one spot in the next AP Top 25.
Missouri: The Tigers face another top 10 SEC rival when they play No. 10 Florida next Saturday.
Georgia: The Bulldogs will play their sixth straight SEC game when they visit No. 12 Auburn next Saturday. Georgia has won the last two games in the series.