I’ve noticed this week that a surprising amount of the national media thinks Florida wins today. And it is a little weird to see the lower ranked team as an underdog on a neutral field.
A slight variation on that theme is that Georgia, because of preseason expectations, faces much more pressure to win today than do the Gators.
But if the stakes are similar, the pressure points are not.
Florida’s success in Dan Mullen’s second season has fueled optimism in a wary fan base that has years of reason for caution. There’s no real sense Florida has arrived as a power – or even, necessarily, that it would arrive with a win Saturday – but things seem headed in the right direction. A win would be great. And yet, in the overall picture of a program’s progress, a loss would not be debilitating.
By contrast, 2019 was supposed to be the year Georgia emerged fully as a national power, as the SEC’s preeminent power. The rival that Smart and the Bulldogs are trying to supplant is not on the schedule, at least not during the regular season.
All that may or may not be true — I’m not buying that a loss for Florida is something Mullen will easily shrug off — but it sure as hell ought to make for Georgia being as focused for a game as it’s been all season.