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Georgia-Missouri preview

Georgia gave Missouri a harsh introduction to the SEC last season but will have to overcome a rash of injuries in its rematch with the newly ranked Tigers.

After earning a pair of nerve-wracking victories, the seventh-ranked Bulldogs will try to end No. 25 Missouri's unbeaten start Saturday in Athens.

With Missouri having gone 48-19 over its final five seasons in the Big 12, former Tigers defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson - a future first-round draft pick of the New York Jets - perhaps showed a bit of overconfidence by saying that Georgia played "old man football" before the Tigers' SEC opener last September.

Georgia used that as motivation to pull away for a 41-20 road win. The Tigers were competitive with the Bulldogs for much of that game and led 20-17 with 2:39 remaining in the third quarter before giving up 24 unanswered points.

The Bulldogs (4-1, 3-0) will be missing some key players for their next game against Missouri (5-0, 1-0). Georgia won't have second-leading rusher Keith Marshall after he suffered a season-ending knee injury in last week's 34-31 overtime win against Tennessee.

Last week: Bulldogs survive Rocky Top scare | Photos

Todd Gurley - third in the SEC with 112.5 rushing yards per game - had to miss that game because of a sprained left ankle and is doubtful for this week.

"Is he going to play this game? He could," coach Mark Richt said. "We're not counting him out, but we have to prepare as if he won't play."

Two Georgia's top receivers, Justin Scott-Wesley and Michael Bennett, also hurt their knees in the victory in Knoxville, and Scott-Wesley is out for the year. The Bulldogs lost one of their top wideouts from the past two seasons, Malcolm Mitchell, in a season-opening loss at then-No. 8 Clemson on Aug. 31.

"I think we're fine. We're ready to go to battle again. Football is a physical game with injuries, and other teams have injuries," Richt said. "Some guys are very excited about the opportunity to make more contributions."

Richt's team caught a fortunate break while overcoming Gurley's absence. Tennessee's Alton "Pig" Howard appeared to score a 7-yard touchdown in overtime, but after a review, officials ruled he let go of the ball while leaping into the end zone, giving the Bulldogs possession.

That allowed Marshall Morgan the opportunity to convert a 42-yard field goal for the win. Georgia got to the extra period only after Aaron Murray's 2-yard pass to Rantavious Wooten with five seconds left in regulation.

A week earlier, Murray completed a 25-yard touchdown to Scott-Wesley with 1:47 left to give his team a 44-41 win over then-No. 6 LSU. Murray, the conference leader with 306.8 passing yards per game, has thrown at least three TD passes in four consecutive weeks.

Murray connected on three touchdowns in last season's win at Missouri, including the go-ahead one with 51 seconds left in the third quarter. He might need another high-scoring effort to outpace a Missouri team averaging 46.6 points, good for eighth in FBS.

The Tigers got the scoring started early in their conference opener last Saturday, a 51-28 victory at Vanderbilt. Missouri never looked back after building a 20-0 lead in the first quarter, and James Franklin matched a career high with four touchdown passes.

With 13 TD throws, Franklin has already topped his 10 from an injury-plagued 2012 and helped the Tigers match their win total from that disappointing campaign, which ended a streak of seven straight bowl appearances.

Missouri, though, has also faced some unheralded competition - their opponents are a combined 15-13 - during its first five games. The Tigers were outscored 187-76 in going 0-5 against Top 25 opponents last year - all five were ranked in the Top 10 - and will open a gauntlet against three nationally ranked squads Saturday.

Georgia is playing its fourth ranked opponent of the season.

"There is nothing better than playing against great competition, and that is what you are going to see on Saturday in Georgia," defensive lineman Kony Ealy said.

Ealy is part of a Tigers defensive unit that's second in the SEC with 15 sacks. Michael Sam has recorded a combined six in the past two weeks, and Ealy has one of his team's 11 interceptions, tied for the most in the conference.

Missouri, which started 7-0 in 2010, will seek its first win in three matchups with Georgia and try to extend a streak of 35 games with a forced turnover.

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  • Thousands of people crowded into Moscow's Pushkin Square on Sunday for an unsanctioned protest against the Russian government, the biggest gathering in a wave of nationwide protests that were the most extensive show of defiance in years. Alexei Navalny, the anti-corruption campaigner who is leading the opposition to President Vladimir Putin, was arrested while walking from a nearby subway station to the demonstration at Moscow's iconic Pushkin Square. Navalny and his Foundation for Fighting Corruption had called for the protests, which attracted hundreds or thousands in most sizeable Russian cities, from the Far East port of Vladivostok to the European heartland including St. Petersburg. The protests were the largest coordinated outpourings of dissatisfaction in Russia since the massive 2011-12 demonstrations that followed a fraud-tainted parliamentary election. Police estimated the Moscow crowd at about 7,000, but it could have been larger. The one-hectare (2.5-acre) Pushkin Square was densely crowded as were sidewalks on the adjacent Tverskaya Street. State news agency Tass cited Moscow police as saying about 200 people were arrested. Russia's beleaguered opposition is often seen as primarily a phenomenon of a Westernized urban elite, but Sunday's protests included gatherings in places far from cosmopolitan centers, such as Siberia's Chita and Barnaul. 'Navalny has united people who think the same; that people don't agree with the authorities is obvious from what is going on in the country today,' Anna Ivanova, 19, said at the Moscow demonstration. 'I am a bit scared.' Scuffles with police erupted sporadically and the arrested demonstrators included a gray-haired man whom police dragged along the pavement. Police cleared the square after about three hours and began herding demonstrators down side streets. 'It's scary, but if everyone is afraid, no one would come out onto the streets,' Yana Aksyonova, 19, said. The protests Sunday focused on reports by Navalny's group claiming that Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has amassed a collection of mansions, yachts and vineyards. The alleged luxuries include a house for raising ducks, so many placards in Sunday's protests featured mocking images of yellow duck toys. 'People are unhappy with the fact that there's been no investigation' of the corruption allegations, said Moscow protester Ivan Gronstein. In the Pacific port city of Vladivostok, police forcefully detained some demonstrators near the city's railway terminal, in one case falling down a small grassy slope as they wrestled with a detainee. News reports and social media reported demonstrations in large cities throughout the country, including Novosibirsk, Tomsk and Krasnoyarsk. At least 25 people were reported arrested in Vladivostok and 12 in Khabarovsk. Some demonstrators showed up with their faces painted green, a reference to a recent attack on Navalny in which an assailant threw a green antiseptic liquid onto his face.
  • Knoxville Zoo officials are investigating why 33 reptiles, including three endangered species, died Wednesday.  Herpetologists came to work that morning to find a majority of the 52 animals housed in one of the reptile buildings dead. They immediately evacuated the snakes and lizards, giving them oxygen and checking their heartbeats with an ultrasound device. “This is a devastating and catastrophic loss to our zoo,” Lisa New, president at the zoo, told the Knoxville News Sentinel Saturday. “These animals were important ambassadors who helped so many people understand the role snakes and lizards play in the balance of nature.” >> Read more trending news Veterinarians from the zoo as well as from the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine are investigating the cause of death. “We also lost breeding programs for several endangered and threatened species,” she added. “It is especially difficult for our herpetologists who have dedicated their careers to caring for and advocating for these animals.” Three critically endangered species died; the Louisiana pine snake, the Catalina Island rattlesnake and the Aruba Island rattlesnake. The zoo’s forest cobra and albino Eastern diamondback rattlesnake also died. “We don't know exactly what occurred to cause this terrible event, but we do know it was isolated to a single building,” the zoo said in a post on Facebook. “We are continuing to investigate all the physical systems and conducting necropsies to see if we can gain any insight.”
  • The pilot of a single-engine plane that crashed into a Marietta house has been identified, officials say. Robert George Westlake, 78, of Atlanta, was killed Friday evening, when a Cessna Citation I aircraft went down near a home in the 100 block of Vistawood Drive in Marietta, Cobb County police spokesman Sgt. Dana Pierce said. No one else was on board. This was the third time in less than six weeks that federal officials investigated a deadly plane crash in or near metro Atlanta. The 1976 plane was en route to Fulton County Airport from Cincinnati, Ohio, Pierce said. Westlake radioed that he was having mechanical troubles moments before the crash, Pierce said. RELATED: Pilot killed after plane crashes near Cobb County house Flames from the crash spread to the home, setting it on fire, Channel 2 Action News reported. The residents, Norm and Barbara Keller, were at church at the time of the crash. No injuries were reported from the fire. 'From what it looks like at this point, it came over from the top of the house and landed in the front yard,' Danell Boyd of the Cobb County fire department told Channel 2. The crash site is near Kennesaw State University’s Fifth Third Bank Stadium and Town Center at Cobb. Smoke was visible from the stadium. Witnesses said the plane nose-dived to the ground, Channel 2 reported.  'I heard a swoosh and then a clap and an explosion and I pretty much knew before I looked outside that it was a plane crash,' said Joe Thomas, a resident in the area. The neighborhood will be blocked off while National Transportation Safety Board investigators look into the crash. On Feb. 16, a plane crash at the Barrow County airport killed two people on board. On March 4, the pilot was killed when a plane went down near the Cherokee County airport.
  • A private central Florida elephant preserve offers a unique, hands-on experience to visitors. The Elephant Ranch allows tourists to get up close and personal with the majestic animals. >> Read more trending news The Two Tails Ranch located near Gainesville lets people feed, bathe and even ride the eight elephants living at the ranch. The nonprofit group All About Elephants, Inc. owns and runs the ranch with an objective of teaching people about pachyderms. It was founded in 2008 “to start educational programs for private sectors and professionals to learn about elephants.” The organizations said it has helped more than 250 elephants over the years. “Some stayed temporarily while their own exhibits were being remodeled or built. Others stayed for retirement, medical needs, behavior problems or even emergencies after hurricanes destroyed their zoos,” the company said on its website. The ranch focuses on elephants, but it houses other exotic animals, as well, including a pair of zebras, African spurthighed tortoises, red foot tortoises, an ostrich, emu and a camel. Shelby Lin Erdman contributed to this report.