South Carolina football coach Steve Spurrier has seen Georgia and Florida up close this month.
His Gamecocks routed the Bulldogs 35-7 on Oct. 6 but endured a 44-11 drubbing this past Saturday against the Gators. So does Georgia have any chance against Florida this week in Jacksonville?
"I'm pulling for Florida, but I think it will be a close game if you ask my opinion," Spurrier said Sunday afternoon. "Every game stands on its own merit, and away you go. A lot can happen in football."
A lot certainly happened this past Saturday, as Florida became the first NCAA Division I team in the BCS era to score more than 40 points without producing 200 yards of total offense. The Gators blew the game open with three fumble recoveries and an interception, and a win over Georgia would give them their first SEC East title since 2009.
The Bulldogs were picked before the season to win the division, but they solidified their role as underdogs in Jacksonville in Saturday's 29-24 edging of Kentucky. The Wildcats had lost their first four SEC games by 114 combined points, including a 38-0 blanking at Florida.
"It doesn't matter," Bulldogs offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. "You don't apologize for winning ballgames, period. The bottom line is we got a 'W,' and we did what it took to win the ballgame."
Georgia head coach Mark Richt said Sunday night that he hopes junior outside linebacker Jarvis Jones (ankle) can practice as early as today or Tuesday but that senior defensive end Abry Jones (ankle) is likely out this week.
The Bulldogs have won just four of their last 22 meetings against Florida, but one of the triumphs occurred last year when they rallied from a 17-3 deficit to a 24-20 victory. Georgia hasn't defeated the Gators in consecutive seasons since 1988-89, and this appeared to be the best chance with Florida rebuilding and the Bulldogs returning the nucleus of last year's 10-win team.
The Gators have not needed long to rebuild, however, racing out to a 7-0 record and a No. 3 ranking in the Associated Press poll, while the 6-1 and No. 12 Bulldogs have regressed since their 48-3 walloping of Vanderbilt on Sept. 22.
"We're not worried about it," Bulldogs quarterback Aaron Murray said. "At the end of the day, it all depends on how we play Saturday. We know we have to play an unbelievable game offensively, defensively and on special teams if we want to have a chance to win this game."
Said receiver Tavarres King: "It is what it is. We still feel like we can beat anyone on our schedule."
Spurrier will be supporting his alma mater even though a Georgia win would keep his Gamecocks mathematically alive. The Gamecocks could win the East by defeating Tennessee and Arkansas, having Georgia beat Florida and then lose to Ole Miss or Auburn, and by having the Gators lose to Georgia and Missouri.
Such a scenario would leave Florida, Georgia and South Carolina deadlocked with 6-2 league records, but the Gators would be eliminated because they would have two losses within the division. South Carolina then would hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over Georgia.
"I don't see all that happening," Spurrier said.
Murray's 427-yard, four-touchdown performance vaulted him to seventh nationally in pass efficiency, a list headed by Alabama's AJ McCarron. ... Georgia's game Nov. 3 against Ole Miss in Athens is expected to have a lunchtime kick, since CBS has 3:30 and 8 p.m. games that day and exclusive rights in those windows. ... Kentucky's 1-7 record this season has left the program with a 579-579-44 all-time mark.
Contact David Paschall at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6524.