In a flash, the Florida-Georgia game has suddenly become a massive deal once again
The Gators and Bulldogs meet in Jacksonville both ranked as top-15 teams for the first time since 2012
Last we checked, Georgia had lost its football manhood, while Florida had begun to find its way. Suddenly, the party full of cocktails known as Florida-Georgia (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET on CBS) looks like a shaker-full of margaritas.
In other words, it's a toss-up.
Well, maybe not in the Las Vegas line (Georgia is a touchdown favorite) but increasingly the court of public opinion.
We are at the end of two long weeks since each team played. Georgia is vulnerable based on the LSU thrashing. Florida is the upstart ready to put the Dawgs' championship dreams to sleep.
How did it ever get this way? Before the season, No. 7 Georgia was practically bequeathed the SEC East and a postseason rematch with Alabama, this time in the conference championship game.
Dan Mullen's bar was considerably lower.Mullen has done more than that. The No. 9 Gators are the only squad to figure out the phenomenon known as LSU. That accomplishment alone should give Florida a fighting chance. Those same Tigers handed Georgia a 20-point loss reminiscent of its 23-point Auburn loss last November.
The transitive property of the football universe, then, suggests Florida > Georgia.
If only it was that easy. Lately, it looks like the Dawgs are trying like hell to meet the Gators in the middle. While Florida is ascending, Georgia has been knocked down a peg or two.
In short, the Dawgs have to win this game. This game, the SEC East and a College Football Playoff spot were the expectations before the season. Everything might be off the table with a loss.
Florida would be delighted if it won this game. This season represents progress, a major step forward after years of mediocrity -- or worse. Georgia's season is at stake.
There's a reason ESPN's "College GameDay" is in Jacksonville, Florida, for the first time in 13 years.
LSU pushed UGA around. The physicality that has defined Georgia football for decades was lost for an afternoon. The Dawgs have to prove to themselves they can not only bounce back but fight back. LSU had scoring drives of nine, 12 and 15 plays; the Tigers ran 81 plays in that game.
"They know what's at stake in this game," Georgia coach Kirby Smart said.
His quarterback, Jake Fromm, became unraveled against LSU behind an offensive line that featured two freshmen because of the injuries. Speaking of that unraveling, it might be a good idea to get freshman Justin Fields involved against Florida.
The Gators would still be on an upward path, even with a loss. There is definition on defense where Florida is No. 1 in SEC against the pass. Feleipe Franks has thrown the most touchdown passes by a Florida quarterback (15) since Tim Tebow in 2009, all through seven games. This after throwing nine touchdowns to eight interceptions in the entire 2017 season.
It's important to understand this Florida-Georgia game is not even for the SEC East superiority. Kentucky still controls its own destiny in the division. The Wildcats will be playing Missouri about the same time Saturday afternoon as the Gators and Dawgs. Georgia then meets Kentucky next week.
That the division is still a toss-up this late in the season might be this fortnight's biggest surprise.
CBS Sports HQ Daily Newsletter
Get the best highlights and stories - yeah, just the good stuff handpicked by our team to start your day.
Thanks for signing up!
Keep an eye on your inbox for the latest sports news.
There was an error processing your subscription.
Compete for Prizes & Play Against Friends with College Pick'em
The Gators and Hurricanes will open the season under the lights in Orlando in Week 0
Eason began his career as the Bulldogs' starter before an injury cost him his job
SportsLine's projection model has simulated Florida vs. Miami 10,000 times.
A look at the atmosphere Buckeye fans take in when going to a game at Ohio Stadium
The 11 players paid cash to a tutor to complete coursework for them, the NCAA found
Not every transfer works out, but these five have a shot