ATHENS — Georgia football opened as a two-touchdown favorite over Texas A&M, the Bulldogs final SEC hurdle to clear this season.
The No. 4-ranked Bulldogs (9-1, 6-1 SEC) clinched the SEC East Division with a 21-14 win at Auburn on Saturday, but Georgia can’t afford another loss if it hopes to make the College Football Playoff field of four.
The Aggies are 7-3 overall and 4-2 in league play after a convincing 30-6 win over South Carolina last Saturday.
Coach Jimbo Fisher’s team has won four straight dating back to a 47-28 loss to then-No. 1 Alabama on Oct. 12.
That was the same Saturday the Bulldogs got humbled at home by the Gamecocks, 20-17 in overtime.
Coach Kirby Smart said little about UGA clinching the SEC East Division following the win at Auburn because he wants the focus to be squarely on the upset-minded Aggies.
The Bulldogs have won four straight, but they’re a beat-up football team with two starting offensive linemen injured along with the top receiver.
Lineman Cade Mays and Ben Cleveland both missed snaps and Lawrence Cager was unable to play after the first quarter with the shoulder separation that has plagued him throughout the season.
“There’s significance in coming here and beating a ranked team in their place in an unbelievable environment,” Smart said after handing Gus Malzahn the first loss he’s had in his career as a head coach coming off a bye week (11-1).
“There’s a lot of significance to that and the East, but we’re worried about Texas A&M.”
South Carolina coach Will Muschamp, who seemingly had all the answers for the Georgia offense, said his team couldn’t stop the Aggies’ run game.
“We knew Jimbo was going to try and run the football,” Muschamp said. “And we were trying to stunt to create to make some plays, and you end up giving up some plays.”
Texas A&M out-rushed South Carolina 319-45, an indication of the Aggies’ power in the trenches.
Carolina’s offense, like Georgia’s, is also having issues creating explosive plays.
There are enough similarities that plenty of Bulldogs’ fans will be on the edge of their seats come the 3:30 p.m. kickoff next Saturday at Sanford Stadium.
Georgia appears to be catching Texas A&M at the wrong time.
Fisher is regarded as one of the best minds in football, as he has a national championship under his belt and his team playing its best football of the season.
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