The SEC East is still wide open ... technically. But Georgia’s convincing win over Florida could be a sign that the status quo remains unchanged.
Georgia has won the East each of the past two seasons, and the Bulldogs entered the season as favorites to three-peat.
After a shocking loss at home to South Carolina nearly a month ago, Georgia looks to be back on track. It wasn’t a blowout, but in the battle of top-10 teams, Georgia clearly looked superior, winning 24-17 in Jacksonville.
Missouri’s next two games are against Georgia and Florida, games which will determine if any remaining hopes for a positive season for the Tigers are justified.
Mathematically, Missouri still controls its own destiny, even coming off two straight losses to Vanderbilt and Kentucky. If the Tigers can somehow win out, they would find themselves in first place in the SEC East, thanks to tiebreakers that they would hold.
The only problem? Georgia and Florida are really good.
Missouri will head into Athens on Saturday to face a Bulldogs team that is now ranked No. 6 in the country. Georgia is currently a 17-point favorite. The following week, the Tigers head home to face Florida, which is now ranked No. 10, and Missouri will likely be an underdog then, too.
This past Saturday’s game in Jacksonville shows just how tall of a task Missouri currently faces. Here’s what happened.
Jake Fromm, Georgia’s quarterback, looked like his best self, throwing for 279 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. It was a more modest performance for Georgia star running back D’Andre Swift, who ran for 86 yards.
Georgia’s defense looked particularly good Saturday, holding the Gators to just 21 rushing yards. Florida only had three points entering the fourth quarter but scored two touchdowns in the final period, including one with three minutes to go to cut it to a 7-point game.
If Fromm plays like he did against Florida when he plays Missouri this weekend, it’s hard to imagine the Tigers hanging with Georgia. To its credit, Missouri’s pass defense has played well this season, but it is yet to face a quarterback as skilled as Fromm. Swift is also one of the nation’s best backs and will also give the Tigers something to think about. And Missouri’s offense, which has now scuttled two weeks in a row, will almost certainly have a hard time with the Bulldogs’ defense.
With Florida, one would have to imagine Missouri’s chances at a victory are a bit better. Not only is the game in Columbia, but Florida’s starting quarterback, Feleipe Franks, is out for the year. However, backup Kyle Trask has been good all year, and that was no different against Georgia. Trask threw for 257 yards and two touchdowns, and like Fromm, did not turn the ball over.
The Gators’ main attraction is their defense, which was stellar at times Saturday. After Georgia kicked a field goal on its first drive, the Bulldogs were kept off the board until just under five minutes to go in the half. Because of its defense, Florida kept within reach of a team that has national title aspirations.
It looked like the sky was falling for Georgia after its loss to South Carolina, but after its win on Saturday, the Bulldogs have a legitimate chance to make the College Football Playoff if they run the table. And Florida has already exceeded expectations without Franks, with its only two losses coming against No. 1 LSU and Georgia. Saturday’s loss, however, severely damaged the Gators’ chances at a division title, since Georgia now holds the tiebreaker.
So while the opportunity is technically there for Missouri to win the division, it certainly doesn’t seem likely with those two teams in the way.
But that’s why they play the games, isn’t it?