GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Getting to Atlanta for the Southeastern Conference championship game is the goal for every team in the Southeastern Conference.
Florida has accomplished it more often than anyone else.
Maybe that’s why the third-ranked Gators are taking such a ho-hum approach to Saturday’s all-important game against No. 12 Georgia. A more likely scenario, though, is that it’s early, and players and coaches are saving all the hype and hoopla for the weekend.
"Nothing’s changed for us," coach Will Muschamp said Monday. "We’re not working any longer, harder. Practice, it’s all the same. We don’t approach things differently based on the situation because next week’s important, too."
Not quite like this one, though.
The Gators (7-0, 6-0 SEC) can clinch a spot in the conference title game with a victory against rival Georgia (7-1, 5-1). The Bulldogs, meanwhile, need to beat Florida and probably win remaining games against Mississippi and Auburn to get to Atlanta.
"It’s good for us," Gators linebacker Jon Bostic said. "That’s one of our goals from the beginning of the year. We certainly want to get to Atlanta, but we’ve got to take it one game at a time. It’s another SEC game we want to win."
Florida has represented the Eastern Division 10 times since the inception of the title game in 1992. The Gators also have more wins (7)
But few outsiders expected Muschamp’s team to contend for the division in his second season. Not after last year’s 7-6 record that included the coach calling his players soft. Not with a sophomore quarterback. Not with a new offensive coordinator.
The Gators, though, have surprised just about everyone.
They came from behind to win at Texas A&M and Tennessee. They were more physical than LSU and South Carolina. They have been most impressive with halftime adjustments, second-half stamina and special teams play.
Not only is the SEC East at stake, but Florida lost to Georgia last year. And those late-season losses seem to be propelling the Gators this season.
They admitted as much after beating LSU on Oct. 6 and drubbing South Carolina on Saturday, saying they wanted to avenge setbacks from last year’s disappointing season.