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University of Georgia photo / Former Georgia football coach Mark Richt, who guided the Bulldogs to a 145-51 record and a pair of SEC titles from 2001-15, will be honored at halftime of Saturday's game inside Sanford Stadium between the No. 1 Bulldogs and Missouri.

We've seen enough of Georgia and Missouri at this point of the 2021 college football season to know that Saturday's game at Sanford Stadium is a "name the score" mismatch.

Which is why the biggest cheer will take place at halftime.

Mark Richt, who guided the Bulldogs to a 145-51 record from 2001-15 and won five Southeastern Conference Eastern Division titles and two overall league championships, will be recognized in Athens for the first time since he was fired after the 2015 regular season. He went on to coach the Miami Hurricanes, his alma mater, from 2016-18 before turning to a career as an analyst for the ACC Network.

Richt, 61, revealed in July that he is suffering from Parkinson's disease, and the best part of Saturday's honoring is that there won't be a trace of awkwardness that often has stemmed from a coach losing a job that he once adored.

"I think the cohesiveness is just about having class, and both the University of Georgia and Coach Richt have that," current Georgia coach Kirby Smart said Wednesday. "There is just a tremendous respect for each other, and a lot of those decisions that are made pass over time. The history and tradition that he helped build here are tremendous.

"Any chance you get to honor someone who affected this university the way he has, I think you do that."

Georgia's first SEC title under Richt in 2002 ended a 20-year drought for the program, and its second in 2005 occurred with Smart as his running backs coach. It's the only time in Smart's career that began in 2000 as Valdosta State's secondary coach in which he worked on the offensive side of the ball.

"He showed a lot of confidence in me as a coach, and I learned a lot from him," Smart said. "I learned a lot about being the right kind of person and how to run an organization the right way. He's meant a lot to my career. Even though I was only with him for one year, I've always followed him from afar, because he was at my alma mater and I respected the job he did.

"He's meant so much to so many. When you talk to the players — I've seen so many alumni and players who come back to events and just rave about their relationship, guys like Terrence Edwards and Ben Watson and these great players who just respect Coach Richt and the things he did for this university, and I certainly feel the same way."

Richt posted an 85-40 mark in SEC regular-season games, with those 85 triumphs topped only by Bear Bryant, Nick Saban, Steve Spurrier, Johnny Vaught, Vince Dooley, Shug Jordan and Phillip Fulmer in league history. In his 15 years, the Bulldogs produced 84 NFL draft picks, including 13 first-round selections.

"I couldn't be prouder to be honoring him," Smart said. "He's reached out to me so many times where he and Katharyn have said, 'Hey, we're praying for you and your family.' This was back when I was at Alabama, and it meant a lot."

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AP photo by Vasha Hunt / Alabama's Jameson Williams (1) runs after making a catch as Jaylen McCollough (22) and other Tennessee defenders pursue the Crimson Tide receiver on Oct. 23 in Tuscaloosa. Both teams had an open date last week and will return to competition Saturday, with Alabama hosting LSU and the Vols visiting Kentucky.

Pasquali's Pix

Missouri at Georgia: The Bulldogs have allowed 53 points all season. The Tigers allowed 55 points to Tennessee within the first three quarters. Bulldogs 52, Tigers 7.

Florida at South Carolina: The "We've outgained every opponent" slogan seems to be losing steam for the 4-4 Gators. Gators 33, Gamecocks 10.

Georgia Tech at Miami: Geoff Collins and Manny Diaz are a combined 42-45 as college head coaches. Hurricanes 31, Yellow Jackets 24.

UTC at Wofford: The Terriers are a stunning 2-12 in their past 14 games dating to a loss to Kennesaw State in the 2019 FCS playoffs. Mocs 33, Terriers 16.

Auburn at Texas A&M: With Alabama stumbling in College Station last month, Auburn is the only SEC program that has visited Kyle Field and has yet to lose. Aggies 27, Tigers 24.

Mississippi State at Arkansas: Five of the top 17 teams in this week's College Football Playoff rankings reside in the SEC West, and the Razorbacks aren't among them. Razorbacks 30, Bulldogs 23.

LSU at Alabama: Has there ever been so little fanfare for a matchup of the past two national champions? Well, other than the 2012 Iron Bowl. Crimson Tide 45, Tigers 10.

Tennessee at Kentucky: Tennessee's 299 points through eight games are the most for the Volunteers since Peyton Manning was their sophomore quarterback. Vols 38, Wildcats 27.

Other picks:

Ole Miss 45, Liberty 26

Ohio State 38, Nebraska 19

Wake Forest 31, North Carolina 28

Pittsburgh 49, Duke 22

SMU 26, Memphis 25

Cincinnati 42, Tulsa 21

BYU 70, Idaho State 3

Michigan State 33, Purdue 24

Notre Dame 37, Navy 10

Baylor 34, TCU 27

Penn State 35, Maryland 30

Western Kentucky 28, MTSU 9

Wisconsin 21, Rutgers 16

N.C. State 20, Florida State 17

Oregon 36, Washington 31

Michigan 48, Indiana 23

Clemson 17, Louisville 14

Last week:

Winners — 17

Mullens — 8

Pasquali is 165-60 overall (73.3%) this season.

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524. Follow him on Twitter @DavidSPaschall.

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