Bulldogs face tough task in No. 3 Gators

Georgia will finish the month of October just how it began the month — with a high-profile game against an unbeaten opponent.

The Bulldogs confidence level may have dropped a few notches in the last few weeks after Georgia was rocked by South Carolina 35-7 and had a less-than-rock solid showing at Kentucky on Saturday night in a 29-24 victory.

Can Georgia suddenly turn it on in a week’s time Saturday against No. 2 ranked BCS team Florida, which is coming off a 44-11 crushing of the Gamecocks Saturday?

“We’re going to have to,” Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray said. “They’re a very talented team. Very well deserving of that No. 2 spot in the country. We’re going to have to play the best ball we’ve played all season offensively, defensively and special teams. We just have to have a great week of preparation and get ready to go for a full 60 minute battle.”

Georgia (6-1, 4-1 SEC) will be in strong position to win the SEC East title if it can beat the Gators in back-to-back years for the first time since winning three straight from 1987-89. The Bulldogs would get to Atlanta for the league championship game then by closing out with a home win against Ole Miss and a victory at Auburn.

“We all know what’s ahead, I don’t even need to say anything about it,” Georgia coach Mark Richt told his players in the locker room after Saturday’s game in footage aired on his weekly coach’s show. “I want you all to get as much rest as you can get, get your minds right, get your hearts right. It’s going to be a war in Jacksonville. … Just get ready. Coaches will be getting ready. I want y’all to get ready. You leaders, I want you to think about what this game means. You’ve been talking about it all offseason since January. ‘Our team, our time, no regrets.’ Well, here we are. We’re at the moment of truth.”

Florida (7-0, 6-0) will clinch the division title by beating Georgia in the 3:30 p.m. CBS game at EverBank Field. Most sports books favor Florida by six, according to VegasInsider.com

“I’m pulling for Florida, but I think it will be a close game if you ask my opinion,” said South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier, who played and coached at Florida. “Every game’s different. Every game stands on its own merit and away you go. A lot can happen in football.”

Georgia moved up a spot to No. 10 in the BCS standings Sunday. The Bulldogs also went up a spot to No. 12 in the Associated Press poll and to No. 11 in the USA Today coaches’ and Harris polls.

“Florida is what’s keeping us from either going to the SEC championship or Miami (for the BCS title game) or not,” outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins said. “Florida’s the deciding factor for us. We have to beat Florida or all is for lost.”

Said receiver Malcolm Mitchell: “We’ve just got to focus and lock in and play hard.”

The Gators entered last year’s game on a three-game losing streak en route to a 6-6 regular season in coach Will Muschamp’s first season.

The Gators are leaning heavily on defense (fourth in the nation in points allowed at 12.1) and special teams.

“We’re a team that’s playing defense pretty decent at times and pretty consistent,” Muschamp said after Saturday’s game. “Offensively we’re doing what we have to do to take advantage of the other team and give us an opportunity to win the game and we’ve played really well on special teams.”

Georgia stood at No. 5 in the nation heading into the game at South Carolina, its last showcase game, but slid in the polls after.

“We want to play better that’s for sure,” Richt said Sunday night. “It’s a big game for both teams. I think both teams are going to want to win badly. We’ve just got to prepare well and play well.”

 

Notes: Georgia looks like it will get back star outside linebacker Jarvis Jones Saturday, but won’t have defensive end Abry Jones against Florida.

Jarvis Jones didn’t play against Kentucky due to a sprained ankle.

“He’s definitely been making progress,” Richt said. “I think there’s a very good chance he’ll play, but if he’s not healthy to go then we’re not going to do it. I think there’s a good chance he will.”

Abry Jones left the Kentucky game early in the first quarter with an ankle injury: “It’s the same ankle (sprained earlier this season), but a different injury, a different type of injury. Right now, he’s out and we’re going to learn a little bit more (today) when he sees some doctors. At this minute I would say there’s a good chance he’ll be out.”

Richt said Ray Drew, Cornelius Washington or John Jenkins could step into Jones’ end spot. “It will probably be a little bit of all of those things,” he said.

…Richt said that Collin Barber, who needed to be helped off the field after a running into the punter penalty, “will be fine,” Richt said. …The BCS computer average for Georgia was No. 13. Florida was No. 1.

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by Marc Weiszer

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