ATHENS, Ga. – For one night, the Georgia Bulldogs are going to be hard-core Tennessee fans.
Senior receiver Michael Bennett said Tuesday he may paint a big T and run through it. Junior defensive end Sterling Bailey is even planning to sing Rocky Top, the Vols’ fight song that usually draws groans from Georgia fans.
Even Georgia coach Mark Richt joked he might wear orange for the first time since he played for Miami to watch Saturday night’s Missouri-Tennessee game. The No. 9 Bulldogs play Charleston Southern in an early game on Saturday.
If the Vols beat Missouri, Georgia would clinch a spot in the Southeastern Conference championship game. The Bulldogs also would make the SEC title game if Missouri loses to Arkansas next week.
Asked Sunday how he planned to watch the Missouri-Tennessee game, Richt said, “I would hopefully be settled in on my lounge chair and cheering for the Vols. Whether or not I wear orange is still up in the air.”
On Tuesday, Richt provided the added detail that he plans to be wearing his pajamas. He said he does not have orange pajamas and wasn’t sure if he even wore orange when his son, Jon, played for Clemson.
“I might have one day worn something orange, but it was in private,” he said. “The last time I wore orange was at the U of M back in ’82.”
Georgia (8-2, 6-2 SEC), which closes its regular season against Georgia Tech next week, capped its SEC schedule with last week’s 34-7 win over Auburn. The Bulldogs beat Missouri 34-0 on Oct. 11 and would win a tie-breaker with the Tigers (8-2, 5-1).
Georgia was left looking for help in the SEC East race after losing to Florida on Nov. 1.
“We don’t like depending on someone else, as far as destiny, but sometimes that’s just the way things go,” Bailey said. “In the past couple years, we’ve been in this same situation. It’s tough.”
Georgia players seem more than ready to push aside their long rivalry with Tennessee and become fans of the Vols for one night.
“I’ll probably just turn on the TV and be singing ‘Good ol’ Rocky Top,’” Bailey said. “I don’t know all the words but hopefully before then I’ll learn them.”
Bennett said he planned to watch the game with quarterback Hutson Mason.
“It’s kind of cool to be a fan of some other team, kind of like a regular college football fan, so it’ll be fun,” Bennett said.
“I’ll probably just paint my T somewhere and run through it. Me and Hutson will be definitely cheering them on.”
Bennett would only go so far. The senior drew the line when asked if he would sing “Rocky Top.”
“I don’t know about that,” he said. “I really hate that song.”
Georgia will complete its season without junior tailback Todd Gurley. Georgia announced Sunday Gurley will have season-ending surgery for a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. The loss of Gurley leaves freshman Nick Chubb, the team’s leading rusher, to continue in the role as starter he assumed when Gurley served a four-game suspension.
Notes: Georgia announced it lost two backup players to injuries in the Auburn game. Sophomore LB Ryne Rankin was to have surgery on Tuesday to repair a left wrist fracture. He won’t play against Charleston Southern and is expected to return for the Georgia Tech game in a cast. Rankin has six tackles in three games. Also, senior WR Michael Erdman will miss the remainder of the season with a dislocated left wrist. Erdman, who had one catch for four yards, had surgery on Tuesday.