ATHENS — Much like the game on Saturday, the SEC East divisional race was very much still undecided as the Bulldogs clung to a fourth-quarter lead over the Missouri Tigers.

But thanks to Nazir Stackhouse’s key interception, Georgia not only won the game, but also paved a much easier path to Atlanta for the 2023 SEC Championship Game.

“Biggest play of the game,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. “It was slow motion. We told him after the game he had to get his piano off his back. He said he took out and he just knew he was going to score, and he didn’t realize how far he had to run. He was out of breath about halfway.”

Following the 30-21 win for Georgia on Saturday, the Bulldogs are now 6-0 in SEC play. Every other SEC East team has at least two losses and the teams at the top of the division still have to play each other. Missouri and Tennessee, who are second and third in the division, play on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET.

A Missouri win would actually hand Georgia the SEC East title, as the Bulldogs already have the head-to-head win over the Tigers. The earliest Georgia could clinch would be by the end of that game.

Georgia does not need to fret if Missouri falls. The Bulldogs can also clinch this week by beating No. 10 Ole Miss. That won’t be an easy task as the Rebels are 8-1 on the season and very much still a factor in the SEC West race as well.

“Lot of respect for what Lane’s done and built there,” Smart said. “He’s a tremendous offensive mind. He’s gone out and they’re playing good defense now too. It’ll be a hell of a matchup because they’ve got a really good football team.”

Saturday’s game theoretically could be an SEC championship game preview. For that to be the case though, Ole Miss would need to win. Georgia could afford to lose to Ole Miss on Saturday and still clinch the league by beating Tennessee in Knoxville, Tenn., on Nov. 18 but let’s not entertain that scenario for the time being.

The Bulldogs are a 12-point favorite over Ole Miss and while Georgia is dealing with some injury concerns — Brock Bowers has missed the last two games while Jamon Dumas-Johnson suffered a forearm fracture — Saturday showed Georgia has more than enough talent to still pull out wins over quality competition. The game is set for a 7 p.m. ET start on ESPN.

As for the SEC West, that divisional race also became rather straightforward after Alabama bested LSU 42-28. The Crimson Tide can clinch its division on Saturday by beating Kentucky. In the event Alabama does lose, it could still lock up a berth in the SEC championship game by an Ole Miss loss.

In all likelihood, we appear headed for another Georgia-Alabama SEC championship game. Since the divisional format was introduced back in 1992, these teams have met three previous times in the SEC championship game. Alabama has won all three of those games, most recently in the 2021 edition of the game. Georgia was unbeaten heading into that game, while Alabama had a loss.

Georgia has a chance to win the SEC East for an 11th time. Since the inception of the SEC championship game, only Alabama and Florida have appeared in the game more frequently.

While the game will still exist next year, the divisional format will not. It will be the two teams with the best conference records that play in Atlanta.

As we are now 75 percent of the way through the college football season, Georgia is very much the top team in the SEC. It is the only team in the conference to have not lost a game to this point. But as the past two Georgia football teams have shown, finishing the season is far more important and difficult than what transpires over the early part of the season.