The three-day bonanza that is SEC Media Days begins in Hoover, Ala., on Wednesday, ending the summer drought of football news. In the 10 days leading up to the event, the Ledger-Enquirer will count down the top 10 SEC games to watch in 2010.
Date: Oct. 30
Where: Jacksonville Municipal Stadium, Jacksonville, Fla.
Last meeting: Tim Tebow accounted for four touchdowns and A.J. Jones had two interceptions in the Gators’ 41-17 win. Tebow scored his 50th career rushing touchdown during the second quarter, twisting the knife a little by breaking former Georgia star Herschel Walker’s SEC record.
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Recent history: Florida has won 17 of the last 20 meetings, but the rivalry is still intense. In 2007, Georgia broke out in a team-wide celebration on the field after an early touchdown, drawing several penalty flags and the Gators’ ire. In 2008, Florida coach Urban Meyer got even, calling two timeouts in the final minute in order to savor a 49-10 victory. It’s safe to say there’s no love lost.
What’s at stake: While there are several potential contenders in the West behind Alabama, the East has fewer candidates. Steve Spurrier can’t seem to put everything together at South Carolina. Tennessee is in a rebuilding mode. Kentucky is mediocre at best. And Vanderbilt is Vanderbilt. That leaves Georgia as the most likely team to knock Florida off its pedestal atop the East. The Bulldogs will need to win this game to do so.
Subplots: Georgia’s Mark Richt, the dean of SEC coaches, is starting to feel the heat in Athens after 10 years. His 1-4 record against Meyer, who has won as many SEC championships in half the time, with two national titles as a trump card, isn’t helping turn down the temperature. Another loss to the Bulldogs’ biggest division rival could increase calls for his ouster. Florida doesn’t have an easy road leading up to the game, with early October matchups at Alabama and versus LSU. It could be trying to play catch-up in the standings if Georgia starts out hot. Both teams will be breaking in new quarterbacks, with John Brantley guiding the Gators and Aaron Murray the Bulldogs. The series has had an offensive flavor of late, with the winning team scoring at least 40 points in each of the last three meetings. With two new quarterbacks, that might be a tough number to reach this season.
— Andy Bitter