JACKSONVILLE, Fla.—Greetings from the World’s Largest (Windy?) Outdoor Cocktail Party.
Today’s Georgia-Florida game will go a long way toward deciding the SEC East race.
And, yes, gusty winds might factor in some.
Sandy was downgraded to a tropical storm overnight and then re-strengthened to a hurricane.
It won’t make landfall in the Jacksonville area, but winds in Jacksonville are expected to reach between 20 and 30 miles per hour during the game with temperatures in the mid-70s, according to the Weather Channel. There is only a 10 percent chance of rain.
Florida can clinch the SEC East today.
Georgia can put itself in strong position to win the East with a victory.
“Our goal the entire season has been to get back to Atlanta and then go to Miami. In order for us to do that, we have to make sure we take the task head on and then win the next game,” junior guard Chris Brunette said. “We had a bump on the road and we wish we didn’t do that, but we’re back in the same position that we were in before.”
The Gators are favored by 6 ½ points. Georgia is coming off an uninspiring five-point win against Kentuckythat followed a 35-7 loss at South Carolina.
“Everything gets magnified in games like this,” coach Mark Richt said. “We had some experience with it at South Carolina and didn’t handle it well. Hopefully we’ll handle it better this time around.”
–Some pregame items:
–Backup offensive lineman Watts Dantzler isn’t on Georgia’s 70-player dress list today. Not sure if he’s injured.
Others not on the travel list: fullback Quayvon Hicks (concussion) and linebacker Brandon Burrows (concussion). Tailback Brandon Harton and defensive end Sterling Bailey also didn’t make the trip with the team.
–Saw a couple of former Georgia defensive linemen together mingling with the fans pregame on my drive to the stadium: Geno Atkins, now with the Cincinnati Bengals, and Rod Battle.
–Nose guard John Jenkins knows Georgia’s run defense hasn’t been what the Bulldogs expected. Even Kentucky topped 200 yards on the ground last week.
“We’ve got to find our swag,” Jenkins said. “It’s just one of those things when you can find your swag you can tell when things are clicking and when things are not clicking. …We’re capable. We have enough talent to do so and be dominant, but we’ve just got to be dominant.”
–Florida coach Will Muschamp is all in as a Gator even if he is a former Georgia safety.
“All the same to me—nameless, faceless opponents,” he told USA Today about playing Georgia.
–CBS’ Gary Danielson on Georgia’s defense: “Their defensive unit is the most disappointing unit in the SEC. The defense is underachieving. I bet they are shocked at how they’re playing, especially with the number of returning players after last year’s run to the SEC championship.”
–Outside linebacker Jarvis Jones, who had four sacks against the Gators last year, is on the cover of the game program. He looks good to go in pregame warmups. He was backpedaling and catching passes with assistant strength and conditioning coach Justin Lovett in warmups.
–The wind is whipping off the bottom of Mark Richt’s pants as he surveys his team as they stretch pregame.
Please follow me in-game at Twitter.com/marcweiszer