Tribune Mizzou athletics reporter Eric Blum spoke with Marc Weiszer of the Athens Banner-Herald ahead of Missouri's Southeastern Conference game at No. 6 Georgia on Saturday night.

Weiszer, who has covered Bulldog athletics since 2003, offered his thoughts about the upcoming matchup, season-long expectations for Georgia and much more.

The conversation has been slightly edited for clarity and length.

Blum: In your 17 years on the Georgia beat, what’s your main takeaway covering the football program?

Weiszer: Football is very important here. The fan base likes to win. They don’t take well to losing in double overtime at home to South Carolina. The bar has been raised by (head coach) Kirby Smart. Maybe one loss a year might be acceptable in the regular season. That still leaves you, like Georgia is now, with a chance to run the table, get to Atlanta and get into the College Football Playoff. But they’ve recruited at such a high level that the expectation now is you've got to get to Atlanta and get into the CFP and they want to break through and win that championship.

Blum: What are your impressions of Georgia this year? Do the Bulldogs deserve to be No. 6 in the country right now?

Weiszer: Georgia has two top-15 wins this season. Has Georgia played as well this season as the fans and even the team expected to? No. The Tennessee win was tighter than expected until they blew it open. The Notre Dame win was a comeback from behind. The Bulldogs' best game outside of Florida was against Arkansas State, where everything kind of clicked. I think Georgia is hoping that its best football is still ahead of it.

Blum: If there’s a route for Missouri to win at Georgia after two straight SEC losses, what is it?

Weiszer: Probably something similar to what happened against South Carolina where Georgia had four turnovers, and there have been instances on special teams that it muffs a kickoff and it pins itself deep in its own territory. You hate to say it, but a key injury to Georgia could complicate things. Missouri has given Georgia some interesting games over the years, but I don’t expect them, especially what I’ve seen from the Tigers over the last couple weeks, to keep it that close. So it’s going to have to be turnovers and Missouri’s secondary clamps down on Georgia’s pass game, like it did against South Carolina. Missouri would also have to slow down D’Andre Swift, which is a big ask for a lot of folks.

Blum: We hear a lot about Jake Fromm and Swift. How do the Bulldogs balance the pass and the run?

Weiszer: If Georgia can run all over you and wear down teams, it’s fine with that. The Bulldogs won 21-0 against Kentucky in sloppy conditions. Georgia kind of abandoned the idea of throwing the ball after Fromm had trouble gripping it. They lost everyone that was a big part of the receiving corps from last season, including Mecole Hardman of Kansas City and Riley Ridley of Chicago.

Blum: What makes Georgia stand out defensively? Missouri has faltered offensively the past two games. Can the Bulldogs take advantage like Vanderbilt and Kentucky did?

Weiszer: That's definitely the one thing that Georgia can hang its hat on. The defense has been very good except for a few moments against Tennessee and South Carolina. The Bulldogs still haven’t given up a rushing touchdown yet this season. I think teams are rushing for about 73 yards a game against them. There’s not a superstar like a Roquan Smith that has necessarily emerged yet. But right now, it’s been a team effort.

Blum: Do you think the 17-point spread is fair, and will Missouri cover? What’s your final score prediction?

Weiszer: After the Florida win, I guessed it would be around 20 points. Vegas seems to know what it’s doing and I think Georgia’s fine if it gets a 17-point victory. If it wins 21-6, I don’t think it would cry about it necessarily. The Bulldogs have scored in the low 20s for the last few games. My prediction would be 31-10 Georgia. That would be safe.