ST. LOUIS - Given all the extenuating factors, whether it was Georgia's suspensions, or Missouri's amped-up home debut, the simple goal for the visitors on Saturday night was to get out with a win, even it was by the skin of Russ' teeth.
The Bulldogs won by 21.
Now, those who watched the game know it wasn't really a blowout. Not until the end, when Jarvis Jones finally imposed his will on the game for good. This was a game where the stats did not do Jones justice, even though he had an interception, a sack and eight tackles. His impact was more than that, as he almost single-handedly took Missouri out of its offense.
Then once Aaron Murray, Marlon Brown and company joined the game, Georgia could roll.
Afterwards in the postgame scrum, national writers were asking about The Big Picture, and Georgia showing the new boys what it's like in the SEC, and that kind of thing.
Mark Richt wasn't having it.
"No we're not trying to send a message," he said. "We're just trying to win an SEC game, win games in the East and hopefully be in position to get back to Atlanta when the time comes. But there's a long way to go, I know."
This win went a long way towards making that Atlanta return trip possible. Georgia will be a favorite in its next three games, all at home, leading up to the showdown in the other Columbia. That Georgia-South Carolina is starting to look like a game that CBS may pick up, and if both teams stay unbeaten, which at this point is likely, it will certainly be a matchup between top 10 teams - perhaps even top five.
Here are a few other leftover notes and thoughts as I sit among dozens of bleary-eyed but happy Georgia fans at a boarding gate:
John Jenkins left the game late with what appeared to be a leg or ankle injury. But the nose tackle was in good spirits after the game, according to Richt, who wasn't too worried about his burly nose tackle.
"Oh I think he's gonna be fine," Richt said. "It didn't seem too bad. He was in good spirits after the game and he was walking on his own. So I think he's fine."
Richt didn't spend much time dealing with questions about the defensive players who were left home. But he did say the missing players was a worry heading into Missouri.
"We didn't like it," Richt said. "We knew we would be better off with four other starters. And Malcolm Mitchell we weren't sure how he would hold up with his ankle that he rolled last Thursday, so it could've been a fifth starter. And then Jarvis pulls a muscle during the week, and I'm really worried. The guys rose to the occasion. The guys that stepped in and played, played well. And the team, as a defense, did a good job of holding down an offense we just don't see very often."
Freshman John Theus was able to play despite a sprained ankle, but he ended up having a pretty tough night. Theus committed three false start penalties and was beaten for at least one sack.
Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo pointed out that freshman tailback Keith Marshall also had a false start, and thinks there was a bit of rookie road nerves.
"I think our right tackle, our freshan, and our freshmen backs were the ones with the most false starts. They were doing a lot of stemming at the snaps and moving and shifting guys, and our guys just flinched. It's just thing they've gotta experience. We were able to overcome it and get the W."
Final quick thought
A lot of people rolled their eyes at the whole "old man football" thing, saying it was overblown and wishing it would go away. But Georgia players clearly used it as motivation, along with Sheldon Richardson's comments that Georgia's game against Buffalo seemed like typical Big Ten football.
"This ain't no Big Ten!" Georgia freshman cornerback Sheldon Dawson yelled during pregame warmups.
And then there was the Bulldog cheering section, which kept up the "old man football" chant for quite some time as the game neared an end. You had to wonder what Richardson, Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel and Tiger players thought as they heard that. And you know they did.
Missouri does seem like a class program, and Richardson's comments in no way seemed an indication of widespread sentiment in the locker room. They came off as the musings of a loose cannon, rather than someone - a la Shawn Williams for Georgia - who says what many of his teammates are secretly thinking.
I don't think Georgia played any harder because of the "old man football" comments. But it did give the Bulldogs a face and a name to put with Missouri in the lead-up to the game. And it provided a sidelight to a new rivalry between teams that hardly know each other.
Now they do know each other a bit. I suspect when next year rolls around, we'll hear a bit more about old man football. A new term is born, and to that, we thank you, Mr. Richardson.