Posted: 3:30 am Sunday, October 16th, 2011

Georgia can knock Gators out of SEC Eastern Division race in next game 

By Jason Lieser

The next time Florida takes the field, it will be playing to preserve its hope of winning the SEC Eastern Division.

Is it still realistic?

“Yeah, of course,” DT Jaye Howard said the Gators lost 17-6 to No. 24 Auburn on Saturday.

“All we can do is just take care of Florida. Make ourselves better and learn from our mistakes and go out and compete every Saturday.”

With three conference games left, the Gators are two games behind South Carolina and Georgia.

Vanderbilt is 1-3. Kentucky and Tennessee are 0-3. They are not technically eliminated, but let’s write them off because they’re headed that way.

So that leaves South Carolina and Georgia at 4-1, followed by Florida at 2-3. Georgia and the Gators are off until Oct. 29, when they meet in Jacksonville (3:30 p.m., CBS). If the Bulldogs win, they are assured of finishing no worse than 5-3, and Florida is assured of finishing no better than 4-4.

The same holds true for the Gators’ Nov. 12 trip to South Carolina. Even if Florida wins the next two games (vs. Georgia and Vanderbilt), a loss at South Carolina automatically eliminates the Gators.

If South Carolina and Georgia both lose to Florida, but win their other two remaining conference games, the Gators are out. South Carolina and Georgia would finish 6-2, while Florida would be 5-3 at best.

Here are the remaining SEC games for all three:

South Carolina: Oct. 29 at Tennessee, Nov. 5 at Arkansas, Nov. 12 vs. Florida.
Georgia: Oct. 29 vs. Florida, Nov. 12 vs. Auburn, Nov. 19 vs. Kentucky.
Florida: Oct. 29 vs. Georgia, Nov. 5 vs. Vanderbilt, Nov. 12 at South Carolina.

Even if the Gators win the rest of their SEC schedule, they still need help to win the East.

Here are all of the Florida-centric scenarios:

If Florida wins all three games to finish 5-3, it will need one of the following:
1. South Carolina (4-4) loses to Tennessee and Arkansas; Georgia (4-4) loses to Auburn and Kentucky. Florida wins outright with a one-game lead over the other two.

2. South Carolina (5-3) loses to Tennessee or Arkansas; Georgia (5-3) loses to Auburn or Kentucky. Florida and the other two teams finish 5-3, but the Gators have the tie-breaker by virtue of head-to-head wins over the other two.

If Florida beats Georgia, loses to Vanderbilt, then beats South Carolina to finish 4-4, it will need this:
South Carolina (4-4) loses to Tennessee and Arkansas; Georgia (4-4) loses to Auburn and Kentucky. All three teams would be 4-4. Georgia would be eliminated by losing to both of the others, trimming the tie to Florida and South Carolina. The Gators would win due to a head-to-head win over the Gamecocks.