Missouri loss provides motivation for Georgia's Richt

Missouri loss provides motivation for Georgia's Richt

October 28th, 2013 by David Paschall in Sports - College

Georgia coach Mark Richt has a wealth of offensive weapons.

Georgia coach Mark Richt has a wealth of...

Georgia's football coaches, players and fans were cheering Saturday night for Steve Spurrier and his South Carolina Gamecocks, who pulled a 27-24, double-overtime upset at previously undefeated Missouri.

Spurrier will not be returning the favor this week.

In a Southeastern Conference East Division race that seems to change by the snap, four teams are bunched as the calendar flips to November. South Carolina aided Florida and Georgia by knocking off the Tigers, but Spurrier would like for the Gators to dump the Bulldogs this week in Jacksonville since Georgia defeated South Carolina earlier this year.

"I root for Florida about all the time anyway, unless we need them to lose for us to gain something, of course," Spurrier said Sunday. "South Carolina is obviously my team now, but I think I've pulled for Florida about every time they've played Georgia, that's for sure. Florida's still in the hunt, too. Everybody's still in the hunt.

"A lot of stuff can happen between now and the end of the conference season."

Missouri still has a slight edge in the East race with a 3-1 league record, while South Carolina is 4-2 and Florida and Georgia are each 3-2. This week's Florida-Georgia game will kick off after South Carolina hosts Mississippi State and before Missouri hosts Tennessee, so a lot of scoreboard watching can be expected.

Georgia coach Mark Richt admitted Sunday that he started viewing Saturday night's game but that it was "painful early," so he quit watching. Missouri won its first three SEC games by at least 15 points, and the Tigers led the Gamecocks 17-0 entering the fourth quarter.

"I picked it back up when it was 17-7, and from that point on it was pretty painful as well," Richt said. "The very end came out good."

The SEC East scenarios are plentiful.

Missouri obviously can claim the division by going 7-1, but the Tigers also could prevail at 6-2 provided their second league loss came against either Ole Miss or Texas A&M out of the West. They would win any two-way tie with either Florida or Georgia since the they defeated the Gators and Bulldogs, and they would win a three-way deadlock at 6-2 with Georgia and South Carolina since they would have a better record within the East.

South Carolina would win a two-way tie with Missouri if each finished 6-2, while the Bulldogs and Gators would need the Tigers to lose two more league games to have a chance.

The Gamecocks have played at Arkansas, at Tennessee and at Missouri the past three weeks, and their remaining four games against Mississippi State, Florida, Coastal Carolina and Clemson are at Williams-Brice Stadium. South Carolina has an open date between Mississippi State and Florida.

"We talked about it very briefly before the game that if we don't beat these guys, we're out of the division race," Spurrier said, "but if we do, we're just one game back. They've got to play four, and we've only got two to play, so we knew we would have a fighting chance if we were fortunate enough to beat them."

Georgia hosts Appalachian State after facing Florida, and the Bulldogs close their league schedule with a trip to Auburn and by hosting Kentucky.

"I think there is plenty of motivation going into this game," Richt said, "and knowing that we're still trying to win the East and getting some help certainly provided motivation for me, so I would imagine it would provide motivation for the players as well. I guess I should say more motivation."

Odds and ends

The Bulldogs opened Sunday as 2.5-point favorites over the Gators. ... Richt did not have much of an injury update other than to say freshman safety Tray Matthews (hamstring) may be in better shape today than he originally thought and that junior receiver ChrisConley (ankle) is doubtful. ... Richt also said that he hoped the knee injury that freshman inside linebacker Reggie Carter suffered last week is not season-ending.

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