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Georgia outside linebacker D'Andre Walker (15) and his teammates will seek to return to their winning ways this week against Florida after falling to LSU and quarterback Joe Burrow 36-16 on Oct. 13.

The last time the Georgia Bulldogs left a playing field, they were in the immediate stages of processing a 36-16 loss to LSU inside Tiger Stadium on Oct. 13.

It was a setback that was accompanied by an optimistic message from third-year coach Kirby Smart.

"Everything we want is in front of us," Smart said. "If we let LSU beating us physically beat us twice, then we haven't done our job. The key for us is to move forward. We still have a good football team, and we still have an opportunity to do everything we want to do.

"Every opportunity we had before is still in front of us. The margin of error is just smaller."

What's in front of Georgia this week is the annual showdown against Florida in Jacksonville. The No. 7 Bulldogs and the No. 9 Gators are each 6-1 overall and 4-1 in Southeastern Conference play, but they are not alone atop this year's Eastern Division race entering the final weekend of October.

With Saturday night's 14-7 win over visiting Vanderbilt, Kentucky improved to 6-1 overall and 4-1 in league play, setting the stage for a potentially intriguing stretch run. The Wildcats are ranked 12th.

Georgia's task is simple, at least on paper. Should the Bulldogs win in Jacksonville and defeat Kentucky in Lexington on Nov. 3, they would win the East crown regardless of what happens in their Nov. 10 game against Auburn.

Yet nothing seems quite as simple for the Bulldogs after they were outgained 475-322 in total yards at LSU. Smart was not happy with the offense's inconsistency and believed the defensive front wasn't nearly physical enough.

Part of Georgia's troubles at LSU included protecting quarterback Jake Fromm, who was sacked four times.

"A lot of pass protection is based on situations, whether it's play-action or on third down when it's an obvious passing situation," Smart said last week. "There is a lot of variance, and we've got some guys who have done well, and we've got some guys who have struggled at times. We've had a couple of freshmen out there who have struggled at times.

"There are some really good pass rushers in this league, and it's a challenge, because the defensive linemen a lot of times are ahead of the offensive linemen."

The Bulldogs opened Sunday as seven-point favorites over the Gators.

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

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