FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Georgia players arrived in South Florida focused on winning, even with outside noise from critics and media, most who have never played the game.

“We don’t pay attention to the people saying the game doesn’t matter, we just block that out,” UGA All-American safety Malaki Starks said.

“Especially with what’s at stake. We have opportunities to have the winningest class at the University of Georgia with 50 wins, and we want to send the seniors out the right way.”

The Bulldogs (12-1) play undefeated ACC champ Florida State (13-0) at 4 p.m. on Saturday in the 90th annual Orange Bowl.

Georgia will likely be missing projected first-round picks Brock Bowers and Amarius Mims along with several players in the transfer portal, while Florida State will also have some notable absences.

The fact both teams will be at less than full strength has led some media types and fans to suggest the game doesn’t hold value.

“We hear that, we just shake our heads and keep going,” Georgia sophomore Mykel Williams said. “We know what it means to us.”

The Bulldogs’ players who were made available on Wednesday were asked to explain to outsiders why this Orange Bowl game matters so much to them, providing some insight into the mindset of a championship program:

Defensive coordinator Glenn Schuman

“Winning matters. You train year around for an opportunity to play in games. I told the guys the other day, on Christmas Day I played my son in Hungry Hungry Hippos, it matters that I won. So when you get a chance to play a game, if you’re a competitor, you want to win.

“I don’t think guys come to Georgia unless they love to play football, and these guys love to play football. So when you get a chance to play football, you play football. It’s intentional how you go about your business because you want to play well. And your tape is your resume, and they know when they play this game that tape lives forever.”

Malaki Starks

“The game of football isn’t just a game to me — football is my life. It’s what changed my life, and I give it my all every time. As a competitor, it doesn’t matter who’s playing. It doesn’t matter if we’re in the parking lot. If there’s a ball, and there’s a whistle, we’re playing ball, and I’m there to win. I think every game is important because you never know when it’s going to be your last game.

Chaz Chambliss

“We’ve been working since January of last year, you know? And we work so hard for every single play we get. The amount of plays we have in a game is minuscule to how many reps we had in practice in spring ball, the summer and fall camp.

It just comes down to pride for us. You work so hard at your craft, and for someone to say all that work doesn’t mean anything in a football game, that doesn’t sit right with us.”

Mykel Williams

“Every game is important just because of the simple fact that you are a competitor. You never want to lose. With the way we prepare here, the next game is the Super Bowl, that’s just how it is.

“You play for Georgia knowing there’s a standard of play that we must expect from ourselves and each other.”

Jalon Walker

“We have a standard here and when we have the opportunity to play football, we don’t take it lightly. Fans don’t understand, it’s just not a game that doesn’t matter to us. The CFP did what they had to do, but being able to play Georgia football in the orange bowl is a great opportunity. A lot of teams don’t’ get the opportunity to do so, we could be playing somewhere else or doing somewhere else, but having the opportunity to play at Georgia against FSU it’s a great opportunity for us to have.

“There’s blood, sweat and tears in this program, and we stack up our days and attack it. We don’t take it for granted. We do what we have to do.”

Kamari Lassiter

“It matters because it’s our next game on the schedule and I feel like we owe it to the seniors class to send them out the right way.

“These guys have put a lot into this university and a lot into these last four to five years, so I feel like we need to send these guys out the right way.”