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Georgia quarterback Hutson Mason

ATHENS, Ga. - Georgia will play its second road game of the season Saturday afternoon when the No. 13 Bulldogs visit No. 23 Missouri.

"I like away games," senior inside linebacker Amarlo Herrera said. "You can feel the atmosphere, and you get that vibe from everybody who's around you. It's not all happy with bubbles and all that.

"You've got to have that dark side in you. You've got to want to be the villain."

The Bulldogs will have to serve as Darth Vader, Lex Luthor, Hans Gruber and the Wicked Witch of the West for more than a month, because life on the road will be all they know.

Georgia's 44-17 win over Vanderbilt last Saturday was its fourth 2014 appearance in Sanford Stadium, but the Bulldogs will not play another game on campus until facing Auburn on Nov. 15. The itinerary until then consists of games at Missouri and Arkansas, an open date Oct. 25, the annual showdown with Florida in Jacksonville and a trip to Kentucky.

"When we looked at our schedule at the beginning of the year, we kind of realized this was going to be challenging in terms of going on the road and playing in some tough environments," senior quarterback Hutson Mason said, "but that's what you've got to do in this conference. You've got to be able to win on the road.

"It kind of seems weird that when we do come back, the season will be over. We only have three home games left, which is hard to even fathom."

Georgia, whose challenge in the upcoming weeks may have become much tougher with Thursday's announcement that star tailback Todd Gurley has been suspended indefinitely, will host Charleston Southern and Georgia Tech to conclude its regular season.

The Bulldogs also had the same six-week gap between home games in 2008, when they defeated Vanderbilt on Oct. 18 and didn't host again until losing to the state-rival Yellow Jackets on Nov. 29. The journey that year took Georgia to LSU, Florida, Kentucky and Auburn, with the open date between Auburn and Tech.

"I don't think much about it," coach Mark Richt said. "I'm kind of like, 'Tell me what the schedule is, and let's go play.' Everybody has some kind of challenge with their scheduling, I think, no matter what.

"The only thing that I really think is important for us is to try to get open dates prior to an SEC Eastern Division opponent. That is the thing that's probably most crucial."

Georgia's first open date this year occurred before South Carolina, and the second one comes before Florida.

Richt quickly established himself as a road warrior with the Bulldogs, leading his teams to a 21-2 mark in true road games from his debut season in 2001 until midway through the 2006 season. The only two setbacks were in 2003 at LSU, which won that season's national championship, and 2004 at Auburn, which won the Southeastern Conference and finished 13-0.

The Bulldogs are 43-14 overall in road games under Richt but have won just two of their last six, which includes last month's 38-35 loss to South Carolina.

"It's very simple on the road," Richt said. "It's you, your team and a focus of going into a town and taking care of business and coming home. There are not a lot of extra things that go along with it.

"It might even bring the team closer together, because we're all that we've got in these away games."

The Bulldogs trailed South Carolina 24-13 at halftime last month and blew an opportunity to take the lead in the fourth quarter when they failed to score after beginning a possession at the Gamecocks' 4-yard line. It was the first hostile atmosphere Mason had encountered, and the defense was surprisingly torched for 447 yards, but the Bulldogs are expecting to be better in this weekend's trip.

Of course, that was before the Gurley announcement.

"As far as my experience, I kind of feel like my feet are already wet," Mason said. "I'm not really as nervous in terms of trying to figure out what to expect."

Said defensive end Josh Dawson: "That loss helped us as a team and as a defense. We've definitely grown from that."

The Bulldogs should know a lot more about themselves the next time they suit up in Sanford Stadium, as well as their plans for Thanksgiving meals.

"I love playing at home a lot more than away," senior receiver Michael Bennett said, "and it will be nice ending the season with three straight home games. That's just how it rolls.

"It's going to be a long time before we're back here."

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.

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