ATHENS — Lane Kiffin and Kirby Smart were at opposite ends of a rope one of the last times they went head to head.

“We did tug-of-war during the players’ fourth-quarter drills,” Kiffin revealed on the SEC Coaches Teleconference, sharing a story from the coaches’ time together working at Alabama.

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“I beat him, but he won’t like that story if you ask him.”

Kiffin will be pulling hard for a win again on Saturday, when No. 9-ranked Ole Miss plays a No. 2-ranked Georgia team at 7 p.m. at Sanford Stadium.

“I kind of feel like nobody gives us a shot, which is a good thing sometimes,” Kiffin said. “I relate it to playing with house money, what do you got to lose” No one expects you to win.”

The Rebels are on the fringe of the CFP picture while the Bulldogs can clinch a spot in the SEC Championship Game with a win.

An Ole Miss upset win coupled with a Tennessee win at Missouri, however, would mean the Bulldogs would have to beat the Vols in Neyland Stadium on Nov. 18 to play in the SEC title game.

A Tennessee reporter wondered if beating Georgia to help the Vols, who Kiffin coached in 2009, would “mean anything” to the Ole Miss coach.

“No, sorry,” Kiffin said. “We’ve got huge motivation to do something that nobody has done there in five years, nobody has won at Georgia, so, if we pull that off and the helps Tennessee, then I’m happy for Tennessee.”

At the same time, Kiffin indicated, he would be happy to see Smart continue to have success.

“I just really appreciate Kirby,” Kiffin said. “I really consider him a friend that really helped me at a challenging time in my life when I moved to Tuscaloosa not being a head coach anymore, family not moving, and I really appreciate his friendship and help during that time.”

Smart revealed earlier this week that, beyond their friendship, he and Kiffin continue to network.

“A lot of respect for him as a coach,” Smart said. “He was a head coach at a really young age. He taught me a lot of things about what he believes in being a head coach and doing it your way.

“He’s certainly had a unique experience in terms of the places he’s been able to work as a head coach, and he draws on that. There are times we share ideas or GPS numbers or whatever, but there’s nothing outside of just a really good friendship and respect.”

Kiffin agreed, explaining how it has also made sense for him and Smart to work together.

“That would probably surprise people,” Kiffin said. “Part of that was him and me not playing every year, I’ve been here (at Ole Miss) three years without playing him, and at FAU three years before that.

“I just think Kirby is really smart, and I really enjoy talking to really smart, intelligent coaches that you can bounce things off of, or how do they do things, or how do they deal with the players, or injuries.

“He’s one of my first calls a lot of times when I’m looking for advice.”