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Georgia Can Salvage Season With Win Over Florida

John Adams/Icon Sportswire

To loosely quote Kanye West’s line from the Watch The Throne album is to perfectly analyze what’s happened to Georgia as of late. It was all good just four weeks ago.

The Bulldogs were living up to their preseason hype as the favorite to win the SEC East with a 4-0 record. Nick Chubb continued his streak of 100-plus yards in a single game that spanned back to October 2014 and looked like a candidate for a Heisman Trophy.

Georgia outscored its first four opponents by a margin of 182-54 and looked poised to make an SEC Championship Game appearance. Then, the last few weeks happened.

First it was a blowout loss to Alabama. And yes, it was Alabama, so losing wasn’t much of a surprise. But the 38-10 final score was far less obvious. Not only did it ruin Georgia’s perfect record, but perhaps humbled the team.

The Bulldogs didn’t bounce back the following week,  but rather, blew a 17-3 second quarter lead before falling 38-31 at Tennessee. It was a win that saved the Vols’ season and a loss that nearly ruined Georgia’s.

But an even bigger loss came in the fourth quarter when Chubb suffered a knee injury that led to season-ending surgery. Although  — a fellow 5-star back who actually ranked higher than Chubb in the 2014 recruiting class — has played well, Georgia’s offense hasn’t been the same without its best player.

One week later, the Bulldogs squeaked out a 9-6 win against Missouri, the same team that handed Vanderbilt its only SEC win since 2013 one week later.

It’s been a rough few weeks for Georgia, a team that is about to play its biggest game of 2015 on Saturday.

The Bulldogs will face Florida for their annual matchup in Jacksonville. The Gators — who few expected to contend in Jim McElwain’s first season as head coach — have surpassed Georgia in the SEC East division standings. Realistically, this game’s winner will punch a ticket to the SEC Championship Game in December. Florida enters with a 4-1 conference record — including wins against Kentucky and Tennessee, who rank third and fourth respectively. Georgia is 3-2 against SEC opponents but should be favored in all its remaining games.

Neither team should lose a conference game moving forward. The Bulldogs’ only chance for an SEC East division title is to beat Florida on Saturday.

September 19, 2015: Mark Richt Georgia Bulldogs Head Coach talks to the team before the game between the South Carolina Gamecocks and the Georgia Bulldogs. The Georgia Bulldogs (52) defeated the South Carolina Gamecocks (20) at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Ga. Jeffrey Vest/Icon Sportswire

September 19, 2015: Mark Richt Georgia Bulldogs Head Coach talks to the team before the game between the South Carolina Gamecocks and the Georgia Bulldogs. The Georgia Bulldogs (52) defeated the South Carolina Gamecocks (20) at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Ga. Jeffrey Vest/Icon Sportswire

While Georgia’s roster has taken a hit in Chubb’s absence, the Gators also have several key players missing. Quarterback Will Grier is serving a one-year suspension and wide receiver Antonio Callaway is questionable after injuring his foot in practice.

The Gators — like Georgia — have also benefited from a lackluster SEC East schedule. Aside from Tennessee, no Florida win has been close and has been the product of beating subpar competition. Even the Ole Miss upset seems like a blowout win against an overhyped opponent.

Saturday’s game will be the SEC matchup of the week for good reason. Both teams share similarities with a focus on a strong rushing attack and good defensive play.

The matchup features two of the SEC East’s top ranked teams and will likely decide who represents the division in the SEC Championship Game.

So despite the struggles so far, Georgia still has a chance to salvage its season with a victory and reclaim its spot atop the division standings.

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