Florida star Kyle Pitts out: Arkansas’ win would enliven Georgia hopes
ATHENS — All Georgia can do tonight is watch — or not watch — when Arkansas plays at Florida on Saturday night in a game with potential championship implications.
The Bulldogs can still win the SEC East Division by winning out and seeing Florida lose two more games this season.
Georgia plays host to Mississippi State at 7:30 p.m. next Saturday, with remaining games at South Carolina (Nov. 21, time TBA), at home with Vanderbilt (Nov. 28, time TBA) and at Missouri on a date yet to be determined.
SEC commissioner Greg Sankey has approved the athletic directors’ measures to use Dec. 19 as a date for make-up games.
Arkansas plays the Gators in The Swamp at 7 p.m. (TV: ESPN) on Saturday night.
Florida’s remaining games (with ESPN FPI win probability) are:
• Home vs. Arkansas (90.3 percent win probability)
• At Vanderbilt (97.8 percent)
• Home vs. Kentucky (86.6 percent)
• At Tennessee (87.9 percent)
• Home vs. LSU (81.7 percent)
Florida is a 17-point favorite over Arkansas, per VegasInsider.com.
That said, it’s worth nothing the Razorbacks have a few things going in their favor that give them a puncher’s chance at pulling the upset.
1. Kyle Pitts is out
The seemingly unstoppable 6-foot-6, 245-pound tight end and match up nightmare will not play against Arkansas, according to SI.com.
Georgia fans will remember Lewis Cine turned out the lights on Pitts when Mullen sent his most valuable player over the middle, exposing him to the ferocious hit.
Cine led with his shoulder in what Kirby Smart called the “target area” between the waist and shoulder pad, but Pitts dropped his head to brace for the collision leading to a helmet-to-helmet hit that led to Cine being called for targeting and a concussion for both players.
The Florida offense was considerably less effective without Pitts in the game, the Bulldogs holding the Gators to just six points in the second half after adjusting to a scheme that no longer had to focus on Pitts.
Georgia fans once tormented Franks, but tonight they will root for him for more reasons than one as he leads Arkansas to battle at The Swamp.
Franks transferred from Florida after the 2019 season, having seen Kyle Trask fill his shoes, and the proverbial writing on the wall.
I love all those guys on the staff and the players,” Franks said this week, per a Florida Rivals.com report from Zach Aboverdi. “I still communicate with those guys. It’ll be a fun game. I’m looking forward to it.”
How sweet of a win would this be for Franks? It’s an opportunity for the 6-foot-6, 238-pound Franks to show that Mullen did indeed pick the right quarterback when he had Franks ahead of Trask on the depth chart prior to his season-ending injury last season.
3. The Barry Odom factor
Barry Odom was 2-2 as Missouri’s head coach against Florida, and he’ll be leading Arkansas on Saturday night with Sam Pittman out on account of COVID-19 protocol.
Coach Kirby Smart is a big fan of Odom’s, praising him at each turn for the defense past Missouri teams and this season’s Arkansas team has put on the field.
The Razorbacks slowed down Ole Miss high-profile offensive attack earlier this season in a 33-21 win, shutting out Lane Kiffin’s team in the first half and derailing Matt Corral’s early Heisman Trophy hopes with six interceptions.