Forecasters expect Hurricane Sandy to pass north Florida and south Georgia well offshore Saturday, but the storm is likely to dump some rain and kick up winds for the Georgia-Florida football game in Jacksonville.
The game will decide bragging rights – as usual – but also which of the two teams will play for the Southeastern Conference title.
In the SEC East, Florida is in the driver’s seat. If the favored Gators win in Jacksonville, they’ll represent the division in the conference championship.
Georgia’s hopes remain alive, but they have to beat Florida and win their two remaining conference games against lackluster Ole Miss and struggling Auburn.
“[Georgia is] going to have to play their best game of the season, without question," said David Ching, Georgia beat writer for ESPN.com's DawgNation. "Florida’s very good at running the ball, and their quarterback, Jeff Driskel, is a good runner. Georgia will have to play a disciplined game on defense and defend the run better than they have this season.”
Ching said Georgia also needs a few big plays early in the game to give them confidence against a very physical Gators team.
In Jacksonville, the RV city across from Everbank Field has been growing all week. Ben Strickland from Aiken, S.C., already was camped out Wednesday. Like many Georgia fans, he’s worried about the Bulldogs’ defense.
“Georgia has not been playing really good defense. That’s our problem,” Strickland said. “Now, we’ve got some stirring up going on in our defense with some of our players. I think it’s going to fire us up, and it’s going to have to. Florida’s a strong team on both sides of the ball.”
Strickland is talking about comments from Georgia safety Shawn Williams earlier this week where he said the whole defense was playing “too soft.”
Contributors: WJCT's Kevin Meerschaert contributed to this report.