The Florida Gators (3-3) are set to take on their arch rival the Georgia Bulldogs (7-0) for their annual contest in Jacksonville, FL, known to many as “The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.”
Florida owns the Bulldogs in recent years. Since 1990 the Gators have won 21 out of 27 meetings, and have won three straight.
For many the tailgating is more fun than the game. Between RV City, the fraternity parties in Lot J, and the countless other tailgates, there’s sure to be fun had by all. But we’re not here to talk about the tailgates – we’re here for the football.
Georgia enters the rivalry game ranked #3 in the country. At 7-0 Georgia is on the fast track to the SEC Championship. They’ve handled all their opponents with style, save their week two one point victory of Norte Dame in South Bend (a win that’s looking better and better every week). Their QB play is above average with Jake Fromm running the show, but where the Dawgs truly excel is in the running game. They have four RBs that average over 6 yards per carry. Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, who both opted to stay in college instead of entering the NFL draft last offseason, lead the way. They’ve combined for 175 carries, 1,180 rushing yards, and 14 rushing TDs. The pair is as good as they come in college football.
Georgia’s defense is just as impressive. Giving up only 252 yards of offense per game the Bulldog defense ranks third in the entire country. They’ve given up only 10 TDs on the season and come in playing as well as anyone in college football.
On the other side of this contest the Gators are struggling mightily. Decimated by suspensions and injury the Gators have dropped two straight in the SEC and while they stand at 3-3 they could just as easily be 1-5 but for a couple of miraculous fourth quarters against Tennessee and Kentucky.
Their offense is struggling to do much of anything with consistency, but the rushing attack has shown promise. Freshman Malik Davis appears to be a star in the making while Lamical Perine is a solid second option. The Gators have young playmakers, but many of them are struggling with injuries. Offensive weapon Kadarius Toney and wide receiver Tyrie Cleveland are both practicing this week and should be able to help spark the Florida offense, but the Gators will need QB Feleipe Franks to step up if they hope to have a shot in this one. The Gators will need some chunk plays to escape Jacksonville with a victory.
The history of this series would seem to suggest that the records should be thrown out the window, but with the Gators being so depleted and relying on a freshman QB that seems to lack confidence, it’s a long shot that the Gators can make a game of this one. Georgia is one of the best teams in college football this year and should handle the Gators. The Dawgs might have to overcome the mental side of this one more than the physical. Florida has held the mental edge over Georgia for some time and recent history shows the Bulldogs struggle against the Gators. Still, Georgia is a far superior team and will likely handle business against their worn down rivals from the south.
PREDICITON: Florida 17, Georgia, 34
PS – I didn’t want to talk too much about the Jim McElwain death threat situation. There isn’t enough real information for me to feel comfortable speculating. What I will say is that I would be shocked if it hasn’t, in some way, become a distraction inside the locker room.