QB Daniels returns as No. 1 Georgia dominates Missouri, 43-6

Joshua L. Jones / USA TODAY NETWORK
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ATHENS, Ga. – With Missouri gearing its defense to stop the run, No. 1 Georgia relied on big plays in a passing game that was boosted by the return of quarterback JT Daniels.

Stetson Bennett passed for 255 yards and two touchdowns before giving way to Daniels, the former starter, leading the Bulldogs to a 43-6 win over Missouri on Saturday.

The game opened new questions for Georgia at quarterback while affirming the Bulldogs’ season-long defensive dominance. Missouri was held to 273 total yards in Georgia’s seventh game of the season allowing no more than 10 points.

“I think … their game plan was not to let us run the ball,” Bennett said. “They were trying to stop our run game and when they do that we have to try to be explosive.”

The Bulldogs completed four passes of 31 yards or longer and seven for at least 15 yards. Wide receivers Jermaine Burton, who had a 47-yarder, and Arian Smith, who had a 35-yard scoring catch from Bennett, have returned from injuries to boost the unit’s depth.

As usual, Georgia’s defense led the way. The Bulldogs began the day leading the nation with 6.6 points allowed per game. Jamon Dumas-Johnson and Travon Walker had sacks.

Georgia (9-0, 7-0 Southeastern Conference) scored 40 straight points after Missouri’s early 3-0 lead. Still, coach Kirby Smith wasn’t satisfied, calling the overall performance “subpar” and noting the modest rushing total of 168 yards.

“We were trying to stop the run,” Missouri coach Eliah Drinkwitz said. “… When you do that you’re susceptible to the passing yards.”

Daniels opened the season as Georgia’s starter before missing more than a month with a lat injury. He came off the sideline midway through the third quarter. His 7-yard scoring pass to Ladd McConkey gave Georgia a 40-3 lead.

“We’re blessed to have two quarterbacks who can go out there and both play at a high level,” McConkey said.

Daniels’ second possession ended with an interception by Missouri defensive back Jaylor Carlies.

Missouri (4-5, 1-4) also could have ongoing questions at quarterback.

Tigers starter Connor Bazelak, who left last week’s win over Vanderbilt with what Drinkwitz called a “soft tissue” injury, was with the team but did not play.

Freshman quarterback Tyler Macon passed for 74 yards and ran for 42 in his first start. He shared time with Brady Cook, who threw for 78 yards.

“We were just trying to see if one of them could really spark us and sustain us,” Drinkwitz said, adding “both of them did some really good things.”

Harrison Mevis kicked a 36-yard field goal in the first quarter to give Missouri a 3-0 lead, leaving him 12 for 12 this season before his third-quarter attempt from 48 yards hit the left upright and was no good.

THE TAKEAWAY

Missouri: Tyler Badie, the SEC’s leading rusher, was held to 41 yards. Macon gave the Tigers a new look with his dual-threat skills. He had a 20-yard run in the first half and showed potential for more success as a runner. The Tigers drew a penalty while recovering an onside kick to open the second half, taking away a possible momentum-changing play when Georgia led 26-3.

Georgia: Linebacker Adam Anderson, the team’s sacks leader, was suspended for the game while he is under investigation by Athens-Clarke County Police for an alleged rape. The Bulldogs lost another key starter during the week when left tackle Jamaree Salyer suffered a left foot injury in a practice. The Bulldogs’ depth, perhaps the team’s biggest strength, again paid off to keep the team on track for its championship hopes. Broderick Jones filled in at left tackle and the Bulldogs did not allow a sack.

POLL IMPICATIONS

Georgia is a lock to retain its No. 1 spot in the AP Top 25 and is assured of again claiming the top spot in the season’s second College Football Playoff rankings.

LATE DEFENSIVE STAND

Macon’s 28-yard pass to Tauskie Dove set up a first down at the Georgia 3 in the final minute. With Smart leaving backups on the field, the Georgia defense held on three plays from the 1.

RICHT HONORED

Former Georgia coach Mark Richt was honored at halftime. The Bulldogs won 2002 and 2005 SEC championships, and played in three other SEC title games, in Richt’s 15 seasons. He posted a 145-51 record from 2002-16.

Richt announced this summer he has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

UP NEXT

Missouri plays the first of back-to-back home SEC games when it faces South Carolina on Saturday.

Georgia closes its SEC schedule at Tennessee next Saturday. The Bulldogs have won the last four in the series, including a 44-21 home win last season when both teams were ranked.

Minnesota football players’ discrimination lawsuit dismissed

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
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MINNEAPOLIS — A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by nine former University of Minnesota football players who were accused of sexual assault in 2016 in a case that roiled the school’s football program.

The lawsuit against the school claimed that the players faced emotional distress and financial damage after being falsely accused of being sex offenders. The players, who were identified in the lawsuit as John Does, sought unspecified damages for willful and malicious discrimination.

A woman alleged up to a dozen football players raped her or watched and cheered at an off-campus party in 2016. None of the players were ever charged.

The university found that 10 football players committed sexual misconduct. Five of them were expelled or suspended for violating student conduct codes, and the others were cleared on appeal.

In their lawsuit, the players alleged that the woman initiated the sexual encounters with players and an underage recruit.

U.S. District Court Judge Donovan Frank dismissed the lawsuit last week, saying the former players did not prove any of their claims, including allegations of bias by university investigators or pressure from Athletic Director Mark Coyle and former President Eric Kaler, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported.

David Madgett, an attorney for the players, said Tuesday that they are considering an appeal but have to determine if it makes sense financially and in terms of letting the former players get on with their lives. He said it was disappointing that the outcome was determined by the judge’s version of events and not decided by a jury.

“It’s disappointing to see disputes decided in this way,” Madgett said. “That’s the way things are decided more and more these days. … It’s disappointing you don’t get your day in court.”

When the allegations became public in 2016, players threatened to boycott the team’s trip to the Holiday Bowl. But after a graphic report of the investigation was released, the players agreed to play in the game.

University of Minnesota spokesman Jake Ricker said the school appreciated the judge’s decision affirming the actions taken in the case. He said the university would continue its work focusing on sexual misconduct awareness, prevention and response.

Frank dismissed the lawsuit in 2019, but an appeals court reinstated part of it in 2021 and returned it to Frank.

The players, all of whom are Black, also initially claimed racial discrimination, but that claim was previously dismissed.

The only remaining claim alleged Title IX gender discrimination. The former players noted that they never faced criminal charges, but Frank’s ruling said that “is certainly not evidence of a judicial adjudication or that plaintiffs ‘were proven innocent.'”

The men also claimed that an investigator for the university’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action used “manipulative tactics” with them in interviews and that their accuser helped draft the report. The players also alleged that “prior failed investigations motivated” the the school to punish them.

Frank said all the claims were unsupported by the evidence and “no reasonable jury could find that the University disciplined plaintiffs on the basis of sex.”

Michigan State player who swung helmet gets probation

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — A Michigan State football player who swung his helmet at a Michigan player in a stadium tunnel expressed regret Tuesday and said he’s “just looking forward to wuppin’ some maize and blue” on the field.

Khary Crump, a defensive back, was sentenced to probation. He was one of seven Michigan State players charged in a skirmish that followed a loss at Michigan Stadium on Oct. 29.

Crump was the only Spartan facing a felony, but that charge was dismissed in an agreement to plead guilty to misdemeanors. His record will be scrubbed clean if he stays out of trouble while on probation.

“Unfortunately, an exchange of words (took place), I felt attacked and unfortunately I did what I did,” Crump said of the tunnel altercation involving Michigan’s Gemon Green. “I’m not proud of that. I’m looking forward to moving forward.”

Crump was suspended by coach Mel Tucker. In addition, the Big Ten has suspended him for eight games in 2023.

“I had difficulties trying to stomach my actions … on that fateful day, but it happened. I can’t take it back,” Crump told MLive.com after the court hearing. “Honestly, I’m just looking forward to wuppin’ some maize and blue in the future — on the football field, of course.”

At least four other players charged with misdemeanors Will Likely have their cases dismissed in exchange for community service and other conditions. The cases against two others are pending.