published Monday, October 15th, 2012

Florida is key to UGA's SEC fate

  • photo
    LSU freshman tailback Jeremy Hill and his Tigers teammates did Georgia a favor Saturday night by downing previously undefeated South Carolina 23-21 in Baton Rouge.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

The to-do list for the Georgia Bulldogs these next two weeks is obvious.

Pull for the Florida Gators. Defeat the Florida Gators.

Georgia's most logical route to a second consecutive Southeastern Conference East Division title involves Florida downing South Carolina in Gainesville on Saturday and the Bulldogs topping Florida in Jacksonville on Oct. 27. If such a scenario occurred and the Bulldogs, Gators and Gamecocks won the rest of their other league games, then Georgia and Florida would finish atop the East with 7-1 conference records and the Bulldogs would own the head-to-head tiebreaker.

The Bulldogs also have SEC games remaining against Kentucky, Ole Miss and Auburn, a trio that is a combined 1-10 in league play.

"Right now, I think the best thing for Georgia is to focus on getting better and focus on Kentucky," Bulldogs coach Mark Richt said Sunday. "It's kind of a boring answer, as always, but it's really what we've got to do."

While the Bulldogs relaxed this past weekend following the 35-7 humbling they endured Oct. 6 at South Carolina, the Gamecocks were suffering their first defeat in a 23-21 loss at LSU. South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier admitted Sunday that the score was misleading after the Tigers posted a 258-34 advantage in rushing yardage and had nearly 37 minutes of possession time.

"I was extremely disappointed in the effort," Spurrier said. "We got smashed last night, and they acted like they were afraid of LSU. It's hard to figure out why we never got mentally into the game and had a go at them."

Florida defeated LSU 14-6 on Oct. 6 at the Swamp and followed that with a 31-17 triumph Saturday night at Vanderbilt. The Gators are 5-0 in league play, with South Carolina 4-1 and Georgia 3-1, and Spurrier gave an early nod Sunday to Florida's Will Muschamp as SEC coach of the year.

The Gamecocks had lost 14 consecutive meetings to the Gators until Spurrier knocked off his alma mater on his first try in 2005. Florida then won four straight, but South Carolina has prevailed each of the past two seasons.

"We've got to beat Florida if we're going to win the Eastern Division or have a chance at the Eastern Division," Spurrier said. "Florida is pretty much in the driver's seat, but they've still got to beat us and Georgia, so it's wide open pretty much. Three teams are still in it, and a lot can happen in the next two or three weeks.

"Hopefully we can regroup and put a team on the field at Florida that plays with a little more fire and a little more effort."

The Florida-South Carolina game will kick off at 3:30 on CBS. The Georgia-Kentucky game has a 7 p.m. start on Fox Sports Net.

Odds and ends

Georgia's Jarvis Jones did not practice last week after spraining his ankle at South Carolina, but Richt expects the junior outside linebacker to play Saturday. ... The Georgia-Florida game is kicking off at 3:30 on CBS every year under the league's 15-year contract with its television partners.

about David Paschall...

David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...

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