Georgia prepares for must-win showdown in Jacksonville amid chaos

Georgia remains calm amid chaos as the team enters a must-win matchup against Florida on Saturday.

After losing to LSU 36-16 on Oct. 13, followed by an open week, the Bulldogs are eager to return to play. Georgia’s loss to LSU pushed the Bulldogs down five spots in the Associated Press Poll, falling to No. 7. Florida sits at No. 9, pitting the Bulldogs against another top-10 opponent in the SEC. However, this time is a do-or-die situation for Georgia as it fights to return as the SEC East champion for the second consecutive season.

“Everybody knows what’s at stake, everybody knows what we’re playing for, and everybody knows where we want to go,” Georgia running back Elijah Holyfield said. “If everybody is on the same page, I think we’ll be fine.”

ESPN’s “College GameDay” and “SEC Nation” also know what is at stake in this SEC East showdown as both crews travel to Jacksonville ahead of the game. This is the fourth appearance of “College GameDay” from the Georgia-Florida game. The Gators claimed victories in the first three appearances on the program, winning in 1999, 2002, and 2005.

With all the chaos and commotion surrounding the game (3:30 p.m., CBS; News 95.5 and AM-750 WSB), offensive lineman Andrew Thomas finds it important to tune out the outside chaos by ignoring social-media hype.

“I try not to look on my phone as much, because obviously it is out there,” Thomas said. “You try to stay locked in on what’s going on inside the building.”

Inside the building, Georgia used its open week to recover from its first loss of the season while also preparing for another conference opponent. Georgia coach Kirby Smart believes his players recovered quickly after the loss, stating his players appear resilient and eager to play again.

“It's the leaders of the program and the organization and the coaches that have to get over it,” Smart said. “We're the ones that deal with a loss sometimes harder than the players.”

Now, the focus turns toward Florida, which defeated LSU 27-19 on Oct. 6. The Gators claimed victories over two ranked opponents this season, defeating then-ranked No. 5 LSU and No. 23 Mississippi State. Florida’s only loss this season came Sept. 8 against Kentucky, which Georgia faces after its meeting with Florida.

“They've gotten better –– you can see how much better they've gotten with each game,” Smart said. “They play with more confidence, and they're playing really good right now. So we're prepared for a big battle down in Jacksonville.”

Saturday’s game marks the sixth time both teams enter the meeting ranked in the top 10 of the AP poll and the first since 2008. Florida returned to Gainesville victorious the past three times in the previous five top-10 meetings. The most recent meeting when each was ranked came in 2012, when the No. 12 Bulldogs upset the No. 3 Gators 17-9.

“I think the most important thing for these guys is to focus on playing well, not the pageantry, not the surroundings, all that,” Smart said. “It doesn't matter. You gotta get back to playing well.”


No. 7 Georgia and No. 9 Florida meet Saturday in Jacksonville. Here are the five previous games when the teams played with each ranked in the top 10 of the Associated Press poll.


2008+No. 5 Florida 49, No. 8 Georgia 10

1999+No. 5 Florida 30, No. 10 Georgia 14

1984+No. 10 Florida 27, No. 8 Georgia 0

1983+No. 4 Georgia 10, No. 9 Florida 9

1976+No. 7 Georgia 41, No. 10 Florida 27

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