ATHENS, Ga. -- When Missouri kicker Andrew Baggett missed a 24-yard field goal in overtime, the East was shaken up again and Georgia climbed back into the race.
“I felt like we had just won a game,” senior wide receiver Rhett McGowan said regarding Missouri’s loss. “It gives us hope. We still need a little help, but it was exciting.”
The East Division is still in play for both teams, the Bulldogs or the Gators could win out and make trip to Atlanta if Missouri loses again. Georgia head coach Mark Richt said Missouri’s loss added some additional spark to Saturday’s game.
“Our guys are excited about playing Florida. If you can't get excited about playing Florida in that venue, you shouldn't be a Bulldog, period,” said Richt. “When you see that a team ahead of you drops one game, it gives you hope that there's still a shot. I think we still have three or four more SEC games, and anything can happen. Obviously we have to do our part, and I know Florida's thinking the very same thing.”
On Saturday, both teams will meet at the annual “Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party” in Jacksonville, Fla. The Bulldogs are looking to stay in the race for the East with a win over their rival, Florida.
Usually, this is a series where national championship bids are possible and conference titles are in play. Just last year, Georgia gave Florida its only loss of the season, which allowed Georgia to travel to Atlanta for the SEC Championship.
Looking forward a year, no one would have guessed that these teams would both be 4-3, injury-ridden and unranked. Richt opened Tuesday’s press conference realizing how similar the two teams are this season.
“Both teams are a lot alike this year,” said Richt. “Both teams are 4-3 and both of us have two losses in league play. Both of us lost a game out of conference and then lost the last two games. Both teams have had a lot of injury issues and both are fighting to try to stay in the race for the East.”
Florida is bringing a top-10 defense into Jacksonville to take on the Bulldogs. Yet, the Gators are still facing major injuries including their starting quarterback, Jeff Driskel and defensive tackle Dominique Easley. Georgia is still missing tailback Keith Marshall, wide receiver Justin Scott-Wesley and Chris Conley is doubtful to play. Junior wide receiver Michael Bennett will return to Georgia’s offensive unit this week along with sophomore tailback Todd Gurley.
“He’s a game-changer,” said wide receiver Rhett McGowan about having Todd Gurley back, “It opens up ways for Murray and us to make plays in the secondary, so it’s huge to have him back.”
Saturday’s game is more than just a race for the East. It represents a time that the senior class can become the first senior class in a long time to post a winning record against Florida. The last senior class that could hold that crown was the 1990 senior class. At worst, the Dawgs will end with a .500 record against the Gators.
“It’s a special week,” said senior safety Connor Norman, “This is always a fun game and it’s fun to play a great team like Florida in the atmosphere down there.”
Georgia is set to kick off against Florida at 3:30 p.m. ET.