Oh, the daydreamers. Those who sit and think about the future and what it could hold.
There are plenty of them, and some thought it could be Georgia players as the national title rematch looms on Dec. 1 in the SEC Championship game. But, no, that’s not really the case at all.
Georgia safety J.R. Reed began with his stick-to-the-script response about how the Bulldogs are focused on Saturday’s game against Auburn (7 p.m., ESPN). Then, he was interrupted with a question about “imagining” playing top-ranked Alabama and its potent offense again.
It made for quite the exchange.
“You daydream about Alabama?” Reed asked the reporter.
“I don’t have to play them,” the reporter responded.
Reed said, finishing his thought: “I don’t daydream about Alabama at all.”
One thing is clear: Georgia is focused solely on Auburn, which slotted into No. 24 in Tuesday’s College Football Playoff release. It marks the fourth consecutive game against ranked teams for the Bulldogs, but ending a streak of three-straight matchups against Top 10 opponents.
Georgia won the SEC East after walloping Kentucky Saturday, and it was a commendable feat to win the division for consecutive seasons. That was Georgia’s first goal, but not the only one.
Georgia wants its name to be among the last four to be named as playoff teams. Yes, in order to do that, it probably has to beat Alabama and become SEC champion. But it also has to avoid any slip-ups in its final three games of the season — Auburn, UMass and Georgia Tech — in front of its home crowd at Sanford Stadium.
“Winning the East really doesn’t mean that much,” Reed said. “It’s now onto the next team, the team after that and what’s next. We have to be where our feet are.”
Auburn enters Saturday’s game with a three-loss record and entered the season with the expectation of competing with Alabama for the division title. That didn’t end up being the case, but this a rivalry and marks the third time the two SEC foes have played throughout the calendar year.
Georgia avenged the 40-17 regular-season loss to Auburn in 2017 with a 21-point conference championship victory in Atlanta. Some players have differing opinions on whether that still plays a factor.
“We have enough motivation with what we have going this year,” running back Elijah Holyfield said. “We have a chance to play for many more things down the road and we are just looking forward to playing the game Saturday against a good team, executing and playing our best.”
Added defensive end Jonathan Ledbetter: “I feel like losses like [Auburn] always stay with you and that you always have that resonating in your mind. It’s a nasty taste in your mouth that never really goes away. Our win was really sweet, but we still remember that loss.”
Georgia head coach Kirby Smart holds respect for Auburn in different aspects, whether it be the unique offensive style which involves plenty of misdirection or the experienced defensive line led by Derrick Brown and Deshaun Davis.
With those challenges in mind, one thing is for sure. Alabama doesn’t matter — yet.
“We want to get back to where we were last year,” Ledbetter said. “To do that, we have to win the rest of our games.”