It's hard to pull yourself out of bed as a Georgia fan this week. Waking up to a gorgeous day suddenly gets smashed when the memory of the LSU game comes to mind.
As a fan, I can attest that Georgia left a bitter taste in my mouth and I went a few hours without cracking a smile after the game. Taking emotion out of the loss brings a whole new perspective, though, as I realized that Georgia is really not in any worse position than they were before the game.
Now I know for the downtrodden UGA fans out there, this is probably the last thing you want to read as you curse the ref who flagged A.J Green for excessive celebration. It's easy to get caught up in the emotions that come from the fourth quarter roller coaster ride LSU and Georgia gave us yesterday. To see the bigger picture of what this game meant to both teams, we have to look at the SEC as a whole.
Georgia was not expected to compete in the SEC East this year, and they knew heading into 2009 that Florida was their biggest challenge. The Gators are already penciled in for the National Championship game in Pasadena and nobody was expecting much out of the Dawgs. After a few flashes of talent, Georgia is beginning to get attention from the national media.
In order for Georgia to win the East they needed to beat out the Gators either by winning their head-to-head game in Jacksonville or by Florida picking up two losses in SEC play. No person in their right mind can expect that Florida will lose two of their SEC matchups. They have one of the easiest schedules with no Mississippi or Alabama on the schedule and only one true road test, LSU.
With that option gone, Georgia has known all year that they need a win in Jacksonville if they are going to have any shot in the East. While that matchup is an entirely different article, let's say that theoretically the Dawgs can somehow find a way to take care of business and Florida loses.
In this scenario, Georgia simply has to win the rest of their SEC schedule in order to take the East and play for the SEC Championship in Atlanta. This is the only place that the LSU loss hurts them. Now that they already have one loss in the conference, they need four important wins at both Tennessee and Vanderbilt, and late-season home victories against Auburn and Kentucky.
Georgia needs to be careful because the letdown factor from this week could spill over into a poor outing in Knoxville. While Georgia's talent is superior to Tennessee, they need to stay focused on the big picture and forget the loss to LSU.
The Dawgs still control their own destiny in the SEC East and have a great chance to win in every game, with the exception of the Cocktail Party. If Georgia can rebound against Tennessee this week and Vanderbilt next week, they put themselves in a great position. A bye week heading into the Florida game could be the difference maker and with a little luck, Georgia could win the East.
Now I know that's a lot of factors, but keep in mind the Mark Richt's team has a history of finishing strong. With the exception of the Florida game, the last two years Georgia has not lost an SEC game after the first week of October. If that statistic holds true, then the entire season will boil down to one heated game on Halloween afternoon.
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