Aerospace Cubicle Engineer (ACE)
Welcome to the 98th incarnation of the heated rivalry between the Florida Gators and the Georgia Bulldogs--the "World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party", the "Florida-Georgia Game", or the "War for the Oar". The Gators limp into TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, Florida at 4-3 (2-3 SEC) as 14 point underdogs to the #1 Georgia Bulldogs who are 7-0 (5-0 SEC). Kickoff will be at 3:30 PM ET, and the game will be televised on CBS. In odd-numbered years such as this one the Gators are are the home and the fans will be seated in the west side of the stadium. Dan Mullen enters this game with a career record of 104-64 over 12 years. Kirby Smart is 52-14 over 6 years. The Gators are 44-52-2 all-time against the Dawgs in a series that goes back to 1915 (if you follow the Florida version of the story). The last time the Georgia Bulldogs were on a national championship path like this one was arguably in 1980 when the undefeated #2 Bulldogs barely escaped the original Gator Bowl in Jacksonville with a 26-21 victory over the #20 Florida Gators--on the "Run Lindsay Run" play. This year's Gators will need to open up some semblance of a passing attack in order to have a chance against the staunch run defense of the Bulldogs and retain the Okefenokee Oar. Even if the Gators manage to beat Georgia and ruin their undefeated season, the Dawgs are still in control of the SEC East.
Florida Gators overview
The Gator season is pretty much derailed, and the Gator Nation is frustrated at both Dan Mullen's baffling decision-making and Todd Grantham's horrible defensive calls. High school recruits can sense something wrong and are de-committing left and right. The Gator coaching staff seems oblivious to the reality of their situation. Florida is #38 in total defense, and #9 in total offense (#53 passing, #4 rushing).
Here is a look at the season so far:
|September 4||Florida Atlantic at #13 Florida||35-14|
|September 11||South Florida vs #13 Florida (Raymond James Stadium)||42-20|
|September 18||#1 Alabama at #11 Florida||29-31|
|September 25||Tennessee at #11 Florida||38-14|
|October 2||Kentucky vs #10 Florida||13-20|
|October 9||Vanderbilt at #20 Florida||42-0|
|October 16||LSU vs #20 Florida||42-49|
|October 30||#1 Georgia at Florida (TIAA Bank Field)|
Georgia Bulldogs overview
The Dawgs are in complete control of the SEC East. The Gators are the only ranked or formerly ranked team left on their schedule that can challenge them in the regular season. Georgia is #1 in total defense, and #42 in total offense (#62 passing, #39).
Here is a look at the season so far:
|September 4||#3 Clemson vs #5 Georgia||10-3|
|September 11||UAB at #2 Georgia||56-7|
|September 18||South Carolina at #2 Georgia||40-13|
|September 25||Vanderbilt vs #2 Georgia||62-0|
|October 2||#8 Arkansas at #2 Georgia||37-0|
|October 9||#18 Auburn vs #2 Georgia||34-10|
|October 16||#11 Kentucky vs #1 Georgia||30-13|
|October 30||Florida vs #1 Georgia (TIAA Bank Field)|
How Florida Can Win
The Gators absolutely need to gain 200 yards in the air and limit interceptions in order to win this game. The Georgia run defense is a brick wall that can only be chiseled at by opening up the passing attack. Florida limited mistakes against Alabama and showed it could compete with a top-10 team, but that game seems so far away after losses to unranked Kentucky and unranked LSU. The Gators can really help their cause by holding onto the damn ball and wrapping up the ball carrier. If the not-so-secret weapon, Anthony Richardson, can limit mistakes while still yielding explosive plays, then the Gators have a chance. If the passing game gets going and opens up running lanes, then the Gators have a chance. If the Gators practice fundamental tackling skills, then the Gators have a chance. If all of those happen in this game, then the Gators can pull off an upset.
How Georgia Will Likely Win
Georgia plays disciplined on both sides of the line of scrimmage. Neither quarterback is flashy, but when healthy JT Daniels has more of an upside than Stetson Bennett. The Georgia defense is going to stop the Florida offense more often than not. The Florida offense will shoot itself in the foot just one too many times.
I want to call for a 23-21 upset for the Gators, but this will more likely be a 36-21 victory for the Dawgs.