Disparity on display in SEC East standings

ATHENS – In the top-heavy SEC East, the bottom has fallen out.

The division’s top three teams — Florida, South Carolina and Georgia — are a combined 12-2 in league games. The bottom four teams — Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Kentucky and Missouri — are a combined 1-14 in the league.

The division’s disparities are displayed in Saturday’s Georgia-Kentucky matchup. The rested Bulldogs (5-1, 3-1 SEC) are a four-touchdown favorite on the road against the injury-ravaged Wildcats (1-6, 0-4).

The Wildcats are on a five-game losing streak. They trailed Arkansas 42-0 at halftime last week. Their top two quarterbacks are injured. Their coach’s job is in jeopardy. They’re facing a fourth game in five weeks against a ranked opponent.

And they’re playing a sport that has no room for compassion.

“We’ve got our own problems, you know,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said. “We’ve got enough problems of our own.”

Georgia’s problems stem from its 35-7 loss to South Carolina, a loss that reinforced the gap between the division’s upper and lower echelons. (The Bulldogs had rolled past Missouri, Vanderbilt and Tennessee before stumbling on South Carolina.) But Georgia’s problems pale in comparison to the plights of Kentucky and several other SEC teams.

The SEC gets much acclaim for its top teams — teams that have won the past six national championships and occupy the top two spots in this week’s BCS standings. But the league’s claim of top-to-bottom strength is thrown into question when four teams are winless in league play — one in the West (Auburn, two seasons removed from a national title) and three in the East (Kentucky, Tennessee and Missouri).

Georgia vows to take nothing for granted against Kentucky, which, according to three computer rankings, has faced the nation’s toughest schedule.

UGA players note that Kentucky led South Carolina 17-7 at halftime three weeks ago (before losing 38-17) and gave the Dogs a tough game last year (losing 19-10). They don’t mention that the Cats have been outscored 152-38 in SEC play this season, lost to Western Kentucky and last won Sept. 8 (vs. Kent State).

“In the SEC … you really do have to have a good game, no matter who you are (playing), the best team or the worst team in the conference,” Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray said. “Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri — those are still very talented teams. If you don’t come with your ‘A’ game … any team has a chance to beat anyone.”

Florida coach Will Muschamp said that in his experience as a player, defensive coordinator and head coach in the SEC, “week in and week out there are no gimmes. That’s what I would say separates our conference from a lot of conferences.”

Yet the top three teams in the SEC East are 9-0 this season against the division’s other four.

Kentucky was picked to finish last in the East in a preseason media survey, and that was before injuries wrecked the team.

“That’s just football. We understand that. Our motto has been ‘next guy up,’” Kentucky coach Joker Phillips said. “A lot of times, the next guy has been a true freshman.”

Starting quarterback Maxwell Smith is out for the season with a torn ankle ligament suffered early in the South Carolina game. Another quarterback, freshman Patrick Towles, suffered a high ankle sprain the next week and hasn’t played since. Freshman Jalen Whitlow, seen as possibly a wide receiver when the Cats signed him, is expected to start at quarterback for a third consecutive game.

“You go through two or three quarterbacks — it’s got to be tough,” Richt said. “I can’t imagine what that would be like.”

Kentucky also lost two tailbacks and two safeties to season-ending injuries. Four other defensive backs have been injured, resulting in three freshmen starting in the secondary last week.

Asked if he has gotten to the point of wondering what else could go wrong, Phillips laughed. “We got to that point about a month ago.”

Richt was asked if part of him feels for Kentucky. The question sounded familiar to the Georgia coach, who was asked something similar a year ago when his team started 0-2 after going 6-7 the previous season.

“My answer was, ‘I don’t expect anybody to feel sorry for me. I expect everybody to hook it up and play the very best they can. I expect everybody to watch film and get the best plan possible and try to exploit whatever you think can be exploited,’” Richt said. “I’m sure that’s how all the coaches around the league feel.”

– Tim Tucker

Staff writer Chip Towers contributed to this article.

MORE ON GEORGIA FOOTBALL

156 comments Add your comment

Mtn Dawg

October 19th, 2012
7:28 am

The Ballad of Poor Joe Cox

October 19th, 2012
7:33 am

man i love the dawgs

Same story...different year

October 19th, 2012
7:34 am

I have no doubt we will make KY look like a great SEC team- we always have a knack of making poor teams and players look great when they play us. Buffalo drove the field on us 3 times- KY will likly do the same. We also have a knack about making QBs look like Heisman Candidates. Look at Eric from UT a few years back………UGA 31 KY 24

Raul

October 19th, 2012
7:34 am

Florida 45, Georgia 17

No Mercy

October 19th, 2012
7:37 am

Nothing more than a tune up game, wish it was against FL Atlantic or Vandy or scout team, somebody to give 1st and 2nd team a better look, KY is a disgrace. Hopefully Spurrier will wear Florida down some before reality strikes us hard next week. Go Dogs, stay healthy this week!

Jeff

October 19th, 2012
7:39 am

I dont care what anyone says- this team and coaches are clearly looking ahead to UF….KY will give us fits because we are NEVER ready to play a team like we should play them. UGA SHOULD win this with no problems, but as history has taught us, it will be closer than it should be and would not be a bit surprised if KY pulls off an upset. UGA 24 KY 21

JB

October 19th, 2012
7:44 am

We win by about 40 or so. UF beats SCe. We hopefully squeak by the crocs, next week, and Spurrier has an epic meltdown.

HBTD!!!

Jeff

October 19th, 2012
7:44 am

Floriduh: 38 “No Regrets”: 10…………..no way Richt can win two in Jacksonville especially against a team in the top 10. Yet another disappointing season comes to a close in jacksonville. We likely finish 10-2…losing to the best 2 teams on the schedule and feeling all giddy that we beat 10 teams most of whom will have at best a 500 record, though most will have losing record. Another contract extension???? why not, we won 10 and how can we be mad at winning 10 games??????

Buzzzzzzz

October 19th, 2012
7:44 am

Results from the 2011-2012 season for the Big 3 men’s sports:

Football: UGA 1, GT 0

Basketball: GT 1, UGA 0

Baseball: GT 2, UGA 1
——————————-
Total: GT 3, UGA 2

In other words…

GEORGIA TECH RUNS THIS STATE!

Vampire Bill

October 19th, 2012
7:55 am

Dawgs win but cat score wayyy to many points.

Jeff

October 19th, 2012
7:59 am

Buzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz……Football UGA10 Jackettes:1 (includes a 51-7 spanking) nuff said nerd!

Browndog

October 19th, 2012
8:05 am

Don’t believe game will be close at all. UGA will run the ball all day cause they will have to run against the Gators.

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Lance

October 19th, 2012
8:14 am

Buzzzz – are your Flagboy?

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old dog

October 19th, 2012
8:42 am

Kentucky..ho-hum. But, next up is Florida. Muschamp has passed us in two years…….they got hosses up front, our weakness.
“Attention top high school linemen: Pleeeeeeeze give UGA a look! We will never step up until some REAL O-LINEMEN come on board!!!”

Octoberdawg

October 19th, 2012
8:47 am

I hate it for Joker. I think he’s a really good ball coach. Trying to coach football at a school that really doesn’t care much about football is always a challenge. Toss in some unlucky injuries and it’s a nightmare. I’m sure he will be fired at years end and Kentucky will bring in the next victim.

Dawgs roll this weekend….52-10.

joe jenkins

October 19th, 2012
8:48 am

kent could very well get the upset…we all know how richt does’t like to put final nail in the coffin on coaches on the hot seat

Pulpwood Smith

October 19th, 2012
8:59 am

Enjoy the last 10 win season we’ll see for a while. Hopefully next year will be Richt’s last after the beat downs we will get with tougher schedule. Maybe McGarity will grow a set by then.

Mobile Dawg

October 19th, 2012
9:03 am

Maybe we get to see the top dawg, Richard Samuel some?

RiffRaff

October 19th, 2012
9:12 am

Wonder what Georgia team shows up a week from Saturday……

Goat Man

October 19th, 2012
9:17 am

It’s a night game at Kentucky, that alone should put caution at the head of the table. I’ve been watching UGA games since the mid ’50’s and if you think this will be easy up there you’d better pour yourself a strong drink. Looks boring on paper but Kentucky recruited a lot of Georgians and any team that has nothing to lose is dangerous. I predict that this is going to be harder than it looks.

garydawg

October 19th, 2012
9:23 am

Mobile Dawg, maybe we’re saving Richard Samuel for the Florida game, where he won it for us last season. Can’t wait for some good college football this weekend: USC at FL, K State at WV.

SimpleDawg

October 19th, 2012
9:31 am

Playing Kentucky at night, at home, has always been difficult for the Dawgs……

But, this year’s game will be a rout of epic proportions……

Dawgs need to hone the running game and will wear out Gurley, Marshall, and Malcome running all night long….. Murray throws no more than 20 passes.

I love biscuits and gravy

October 19th, 2012
9:42 am

Here is what I see happening and sadly it has been wrote on the wall for a while.

1. UGA wins this weekend

2. We lose big to Florida next weekend (I do not want this but I feel it is going to happen)

3. That Monday Richt is being told he is not going to be brought back next year and can finish the year out.

4. Outback bowl against Michigan State.

Buckeye

October 19th, 2012
9:45 am

Sick and Tired

October 19th, 2012
9:46 am

The Dawgs will come out and look good beating a injured Kentucky team. Then the stupid Richt/Bobo supporters will come back on the boards talking trash about how great we are and how we are going to beat Florida to go to the SEC championship game. Totally forgetting/forgiving the embarrassing beat down on a national level to South Carolina and the pathetic 2-14 record against ranked teams since 2008. Keeping the horrible coaching staff around for the next embarrassing blow out. Awesome! Can’t wait!

funny...

October 19th, 2012
9:47 am

Buzz, what is the football record over the last 11 years? How about 20, 30, 100?

Also, expect Murray to have a banner day against a crap defense.

He’s breaking records against the dregs of college football and losing to the elite.

Aaron Murray is awful, worse than Tereshinski, worse than Cox.

Murray is the Richt of college QB’s

DawginLex

October 19th, 2012
9:50 am

Kentucky can’t stop the run. If we are smart, we will use this as a chance to get our OL and RB some confidence.

Whitlow and Newton are both running QB’s, which should help in gam eplanning for Driskell. Problem is, we have had problems stopping the running QB.

If it goes like it should, we should cover. If we show up uninspired and going through the motions, it will be a 14 point win which will be embarrassing.

I’d love to shut them out. Our defense needs to get some confidence too

UGA Insider

October 19th, 2012
10:01 am

I saw on Sports Center last night that the computer rankings all averaged UF #1 in the country. Bama was 3. Looks like UF has surpassed us again with yet another different coach. Congrats to the Gators! If Adams ever gets his mits off our program we will be back, but until then we will always be average.

old dog

October 19th, 2012
10:03 am

Muschamp leaped over us so fast….they wanted his head, remember? Lets see what happens this week with their S.C. meeting, then us next week. If he pulls them both off, then we will KNOW that coaching is a factor! And yeah, Spurrier went to a program with NO HISTORY AND NO VIABLE RECRUITING and over time (less time than us) turned it into a powerhouse. We already had the recruiting and resources and are a middle-of-the-pack team. Let us not think that Florida and S.C have not passed us; they have.

Dawg Tired

October 19th, 2012
10:29 am

If we even come close to struggleling against KY, we obviously have serious discipline problems. Of course, those who call themselves the “real Dawg fans” will continue to defend both the coaches and the players. It would seem that the real “real Dawg fans” just might be those who refuse to accept mediocrity and want, even demand, that we be at lest as good as USCe and Florida. Unfortunately, that does not appear to be the case. Sadly, it does not even appear to be the goal.

DawginLex

October 19th, 2012
10:37 am

Aaron Murray is awful, worse than Tereshinski, worse than Cox.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Dumbest statement ever made on these blogs.

Tereshinski was a fraternity QB. Cox was a interception machine. Murray behind LSU OL? LSU is undefeated and #2 in the country now.

You really are funny. In an idiotic sort of way

JRW7

October 19th, 2012
10:47 am

DAWGS are so unpredictable as to the intensity in which they play each game, seems to come from the top down. DAWGS beat KY, Gators beat SC, then the big game, DAWGS vs Gators. DAWGS lose, CMR can’t win the big games anymore. Wait for next year, same old stuff.

Joey

October 19th, 2012
10:51 am

old dog, I think the difference in the UF and UGA programs lie in the qualities of the coaching staffs. Since Spurrier, and right on through Muschamp, UF hires assistant coaches that wind up as successful head coaches.

Stoops, Mullen, Strong, and I’m sure I’m missing some. And you know it won’t be long til Brent Pease gets a big-time job.

Contrast that with the fact that apparently, in that same time frame, no assistant at UGA has even gotten offers, at least of a promotion. Hell, Richt’s DC of 5 years can only get DB jobs at other programs. Grantham, who seemed to be headed to bigger things, is losing stock with every poor showing this season, and when half or more of his D get drafted next April, he will look even more inept. Bobo’s offense looked good for 5 games, but inevitably got shut down (as always) when facing a good defense.

LakeDawg

October 19th, 2012
10:58 am

The Dawgs will beat KU comfortably, but for those still holding out hope for the UF game, they will be troubled by UGA’s D giving up a lot of yards and too many points.

Joey

October 19th, 2012
11:05 am

“Wait for next year, same old stuff.”
***************************
JRW7, that is something you won’t hear about ‘13. There are at least 5 teams on next year’s schedule that will be highly ranked, and well, given the total lack of success vs ranked teams, the real possibility of losing them all.

If we can’t get to a BCS bowl this season, with having playing only 2 ranked teams, next season will end Shreveport again.

NoGaGator

October 19th, 2012
11:06 am

Just enjoying the ride and Foley’s “reach”in hiring Muschamp being validated!

Big Dawg Too

October 19th, 2012
11:09 am

The SEC East Disparity results from recruiting………….it is obvious that Florida,Georgia and South Carolina have done much better jobs recruiting Blue Chip Players and also coaching up non-bluechips to be very effective on the field!

Big Dawg Too

October 19th, 2012
11:13 am

I guess Missouri and Kentucky can say they have better Basketball teams than anyone else in the SEC…………it’s a pity their Basketball coaches don’t recruit for their Football teams!

See You Later from this Gator

October 19th, 2012
11:16 am

It is clear that Florida has the Best Football team in the SEC East………you all will see after the next two weekends!

DirtyDawg

October 19th, 2012
11:18 am

As much as it hurt to have to live with that SC debacle for an extra week, we’ll see if the coaches and players took it seriously enough to actually do something about it. I don’t believe our O-line is as bad as we looked in Columbia – at least I surely hope it’s not – and with better execution, and most of all toughness, they’ll get the job done from here on out. And speaking of getting tougher, the defensive line better start living up to the expectations – along with the rest of the D – as well. I don’t think we’re out of it by a long shot…first Kentucky then ‘them’.

GTBob

October 19th, 2012
11:22 am

This is pretty much a model for how the SEC works. A few good teams at the top and a bunch of bad teams below them. This is the proven recipe for convincing everyone that you are a great conference though.

Eddie Haskel

October 19th, 2012
11:29 am

As I see it the Dawgs have 2 choices- Ditch the Florida game (smart move) or get embarrased by Bama in SEC title game.

NoGaGator

October 19th, 2012
11:38 am

Big Dawg Too

October 19th, 2012
11:13 am

I guess Missouri and Kentucky can say they have better Basketball teams than anyone else in the SEC…………it’s a pity their Basketball coaches don’t recruit for their Football teams!
______________________________________________________________________

You also need to add UF to that on the basketball part (as in most other sports). Both Donovan and Muschamp are doing quite well, thank you.

Been There

October 19th, 2012
11:47 am

UGA has carried Richt four years longer than we should have. In additionb to weak coaching and a weak schedule, we now have a weak AD. I’m always a Dawg, but I am not a Richt regime supporter and haven’t been for four years. It’s time for new blood and someone with a burn to win. With the money our program generates, we can afford the best in the land so let’s GATA!!

MS. Bully

October 19th, 2012
11:48 am

The SEC West still rules College Football!! Mississippi State is 6-0 and counting!! Hail State!!
Bring on Alabama!!

Cdpridg

October 19th, 2012
11:51 am

Bob…i was mistaken earlier…with the rise of Carolina it is now the Big7 instead of 6. Arky not withstanding. You gave them too much credit and now look a fool….but whats new

Cdpridg

October 19th, 2012
11:52 am

Bully…slight improvement but still nothing