ATHENS, Ga. — The Georgia Bulldogs have been popular viewing for college football fans in 2019.
Their 23-17 victory over Notre Dame on Sept. 21 was watched by 9.29 million people, according to CBS numbers, making it the most-watched contest of the season. There were 6.98 million folks who witnessed the Bulldogs topping Florida 24-17 last Saturday on CBS, with the network claiming it was the highest-rated Georgia-Florida game in 32 years.
The Bulldogs have played in two of the five most-watched games this season, but those numbers will be adjusted after Saturday afternoon's 3:30 showdown between LSU and Alabama inside Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Georgia hosts Missouri at 7 p.m. Saturday on ESPN, so Bulldogs players will have the opportunity to keep tabs on the Southeastern Conference's biggest Western Division clash one week after winning the most important game in the SEC East race.
"Basically what we do is that we have meetings here and there on Saturday, and we'll have some walk-throughs, but other than that, you just have down time," senior tight end Charlie Woerner said. "You don't want to continually think about 7 p.m., and you don't want to continually think about Missouri. You want to relax and take your mind off stuff, and when we're in our rooms at the hotel we've got TVs.
"You can watch movies or you can watch other games. It depends on whatever you want to do."
It's impossible for the Bulldogs to watch LSU-Alabama in its entirety. In fact, the Tigers and the Crimson Tide likely still will be playing when Missouri-Georgia kicks off.
Still, players planned to at least take a glance at what is transpiring over in Tuscaloosa.
"I don't like watching that much TV," junior safety Richard LeCounte III said. "I would rather sit and chill with my teammates and just enjoy the company, but I definitely look at the scores. I will definitely keep up with the score of Alabama-LSU, but I'm not going to be focused too much on that game."
Said senior inside linebacker Tae Crowder: "You see games come on and you'll definitely watch them for a little bit, but you always want to be paying attention to what you've got coming up next."
Georgia coach Kirby Smart doesn't track what his players are watching in the team hotel, and he certainly doesn't want them distracted. The Bulldogs have won their two most publicized games of the season but were stunned in between by a double-overtime home loss to South Carolina.
"I'm not the TV police," Smart said. "We don't monitor that, but we have walk-throughs to try and prepare mentally."
The good news for Smart and his staff is that it's easier for players before night games to get sucked into a noon contest on television compared to a midafternoon start.
"When a 3:30 game is on television, you're kind of getting into the back end of your day," Woerner said. "You're doing the pregame meal and stuff, but you can still watch a little of the game here and there."
Bryant now likely
Missouri quarterback Kelly Bryant, a graduate transfer from Clemson, injured a hamstring during the loss to Kentucky on Oct. 26. Bryant told reporters Tuesday that his hamstring was at 75% and did not know whether he would play this Saturday, but Tigers coach Barry Odom sounded much more optimistic Wednesday.
"Kelly took a majority of the snaps with the ones," Odom said of Wednesday morning's practice. "(Backup quarterback) Taylor (Powell) is working in like he has in every other week. We always make sure as we get into game week that our No. 2 quarterback, whoever that is, takes some meaningful time with the ones.
"I think Kelly is on track to play and I think he will play well, and Taylor understands that he is going to prepare just like he has every other week."