Georgia tailback Elijah Holyfield soars into the end zone past Florida defenders C.J. Henderson and Chauncey Gardner Jr. to take a 42-0 lead during the fourth quarter in the Georgia-Florida game in Jacksonville in 2017. Georgia beat Florida 42-7. Curtis Compton/

Georgia’s matchups with Florida, South Carolina named most important SEC games

Georgia’s games against Florida and South Carolina were named two of the conference’s most important matchups this upcoming season by ESPN’s Alex Scarborough.

Scarborough wrote the South Carolina matchup— the Bulldogs first conference game this season on Sept. 8— will test if the Bulldogs can bounce back as SEC East Champions against one of the stronger teams in the East.

“On the road, early in the season, with a bunch of starters needing to be replaced, Kirby Smart's squad could be in for a challenge,” Scarborough said. “South Carolina is a bit of a dark horse in the division with one of the better offensive cores with Jake Bentley at quarterback and Bryan Edwards and Deebo Samuel at receiver.”

Scarborough also included Georgia’s matchup against Florida on Oct. 27 among the SEC’s most important games because it will determine if the Bulldogs have a clear shot to win the East among so many programs that are rebuilding. 

The Gators hired former quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator Dan Mullen as head coach in November and could be rebuilding, much like other programs in the East, Scarborough estimated.

“Given their immediate success under Kirby Smart, given his staff's penchant for recruiting, given the quarterback they have starting and the quarterback they have waiting in the wings, it's fair to wonder whether Georgia will have its run of the division for a while,” Scarborough said. “Tennessee is rebuilding and Kentucky, Missouri and Vanderbilt don't appear to be on the verge of a trip to Atlanta. The question we’re left with is how quickly Florida can get back on its feet under Mullen. That’s why the game in Jacksonville is so important; it will either slow down Georgia’s momentum or signal that the path is clear for a long run atop the East.”

The SEC’s three other most important games according to Scarborough are Florida at Mississippi State on Sept. 29, Auburn at Alabama on Nov. 24 and LSU at Texas A&M on Nov. 24

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