ATHENS - Next week, barring injury, Georgia will face one of its former quarterbacks, Zach Mettenberger. Two months from now, again barring injury or coaches' decision, the Bulldogs are due to face Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall, another former Bulldog.
This week the two quarterbacks, who were each dismissed by Georgia, face each other.
"It didn't dawn on me until you said it," Georgia head coach Mark Richt said on Wednesday's SEC coaches teleconference. "I knew we were gonna play both of those teams, I had thought of it in terms of that. It'll definitely be interesting to see what happens. It'll be very interesting to watch because I know both those guys. ... I like both of them very much, I want the very best for both of them, and I'm glad they landed in the right spot."
No. 6 LSU is a 17-point favorite over unranked Auburn, according to Vegasinsider.com. Both teams are unbeaten.
"Both quarterbacks went the junior college route, both quarterbacks have talent," LSU head coach Les Miles said. "I think it will be a quality matchup."
Marshall was recruited to Georgia as a cornerback, with some possibility later in his career of being in a Wildcat-type package at quarterback. Interestingly, Richt said that Georgia began recruiting Marshall as a quarterback, but it was Marshall who decided he wanted to play cornerback.
"As time went on through the recruiting process he decided that it would be better for him to play corner," Richt said. "We were more than fine to have him play defensive back, corner. We knew he could be a quarterback, we saw the skills he had."
Marshall mainly played on special teams as a freshman, and made a tackle on a kickoff against Auburn. He got some snaps at cornerback in blowouts.
But the team had plans for him, and it's not inconceivable that if Marshall had not been dismissed, he would be starting at the second cornerback spot right now, opposite Damian Swann. (In addition Chris Sanders, who was dismissed with Marshall, might have been the starter at strong safety right now.)
Marshall is off to a good start, highlighted by his last-minute game-winning drive to beat Mississippi State last Saturday. Marshall has passed for 585 yards and four touchdowns over three games, with two interceptions, and has also rushed for 102 yards.
Richt said he was watching as Marshall began the final drive against Mississippi State.
"Even before the drive started, I said I had a pretty good feeling this guy is gonna start making some history at Auburn," Richt said.
Mettenberger is in his second year as LSU's starter. He struggled at times last year, but this year has done much better, albeit against a weaker schedule: He has 797 passing yards and nine touchdowns, and has not been picked off yet.
Mettenberger and Aaron Murray were part of the same recruiting class. Murray won the job after the 2010 spring practice, and then Mettenberger was dismissed from the team in early April.
"There's no doubt the competition helped Aaron," Richt said.