SEC Notebook: Florida looking to lock up East with victory over rival

Florida could clear its path to Atlanta with win over Georgia
Kim Klement/Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

No. 11 Florida could take a big step towards securing an SEC East Division title with a victory over hated rival Georgia on Saturday. 

As it currently stands, Florida holds a one-game advantage over Georgia in both the win and loss column. Should Georgia win this contest, the Bulldogs would hold the tiebreaker — and would win the division (assuming Mark Richt’s team can go unscathed the rest of the way in conference play). 

Billed as "The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party," the atmosphere in Jacksonville should be euphoric in nature. Playing the role of a spoiler, the Bulldogs will attempt to climb back into the division race. 

Georgia’s best chance in this contest will be to rattle Florida’s sophomore signal-caller Treon Harris. The Bulldogs do possess outstanding talent (Leonard Floyd, Jordan Jenkins) in terms of rushing the passer. They could pose some problems for Florida’s offensive line, which has struggled to maintain consistency in both pass protection and run blocking.

On the other side of the coin, Florida’s athletic and active defense will test Georgia signal-caller Greyson Lambert. Look for running back Sony Michel to get a good chunk of touches in this contest. He had 26 carries in Georgia’s last game against Missouri, and is by far the most dynamic option available within the Bulldogs’ stable of skill players. 

Aside from the extensive rivalry between the programs, the narrative truly sits in regards to the conference race. Florida can capitalize on a hot start and continue its reemergence as a power in the East. A resounding victory over Georgia will only further that claim.

Although not necessarily on the proverbial hot seat, Richt is facing some scrutiny. Georgia hasn’t won an SEC East Division title since 2012. It also hasn’t won a conference crown since 2005. When taking into account the support from the university, and the talent base from which to recruit from, it’s somewhat surprising that Georgia hasn’t achieved more success on a macro level. 

A victory in this game could help to assuage some concerns from the fan base. Should Florida become victorious, it has a very nice path to the conference title game in Atlanta. 

Which Texas A&M team will we see versus South Carolina?

After starting the season 5-0, Kevin Sumlin’s team has dropped two-straight games. The loss to Alabama wasn’t a total surprise. However, the 23-3 defeat at Ole Miss raised some serious questions. 

For one, the lack of energy and excitement was clear from the get-go. Ole Miss was superior in every aspect of the game.

Secondly, it was another struggle for quarterback Kyle Allen. The Arizona native has thrown four interceptions in his last two games. Against the Rebels, he went 12-of-34 for 88 yards. This equates to a completion percentage of 35.3. It’s shockingly bad. 

Sumlin is also receiving some heat over possible dissension in the locker room. The turmoil is centered around the quarterback position, namely in regards to freshman Kyler Murray. With Allen’s struggles of late, it wouldn’t be a shock to see Murray get more of a look going forward.

South Carolina enters as a complete afterthought. As such, this sets up as a trap game for the Aggies.

There aren’t tons of people thinking the Gamecocks can go into College Station and come out with a victory. However, interim head coach Shawn Elliot may be able to capitalize on this rumored turmoil within the Texas A&M program.

South Carolina is coming off of a bye week, but also a victory over Vanderbilt in its last game. It’s also a program not bereft of talent, as it features stud receiver Pharoh Cooper and talented linebacker Skai Moore. The Gamecocks also will likely want to atone for last year’s embarrassing 52-28 loss Texas A&M handed them at home. 

When factoring in all of these aspects, Sumlin’s team may be on upset-alert this upcoming Saturday.