Jacksonville, Fla.– The Florida Gators are 6-1 at the end of October. Yes, it’s true. It has been a while since we’ve been able to say that. Georgia is 5-2 and the underdog in this game, which has also been a while since that has happened.
Georgia has lost 2 of it’s last 3 games and their season is teetering on the brink of implosion. Florida still has the upperhand in the race to Atlanta and will all but seal it up with a victory at Everbank Field. Georgia certainly needs this game more than Florida does, but it does not take away the importance of this game to the Gators. If Florida loses to Georgia, the Gators’ fate lies in other teams hands. McElwain has brought back the emphasis on rivalry games to The Swamp and has had 2 weeks to prepare this team for maybe their toughest remaining game in the regular season.
The Gators need to get their running backs involved early and often against an inconsistent Georgia defense. Georgia’s defense surrendered a huge comeback victory to Josh Dobbs and Co. in Knoxville a few weeks ago and gave up 519 yards of total offense to the Vols. Josh Dobbs is a mobile QB like Treon Harris and the Dawgs seemed to struggle defending his running ability as he rushed for 118 yards and the team rushed for 207 yards against Georgia. Nussmeier needs to get Treon Harris more involved in the running game. Florida’s rushing offense has been anemic to say the least. The Gators rushed for 55 total yards against LSU in Baton Rouge which is unacceptable and will put the Gators in the loss column if that happens again. The Gators NEED to run the ball effectively. If Florida starts running it with ease (as they did last year against Georgia), the passing game will open up for Treon to get some big plays to home run threats like Antonio Callaway and Demarcus Robinson. C’yontai Lewis’ return this weekend gives the Gators another weapon for Harris to use at his disposal. Pretty simple strategy offensively for the Gators on Saturday: Run the ball, win the game.
Florida’s prized possession this season has been the defense. This defense is easily Top 5 in the country and when it plays to the level it’s capable of, not many teams can score on it. LSU had early success on the Gators in the passing game which disappointed many. But as McElwain has said, the Gators played tight early on. The defense surrendered 2 passing touchdowns to the Tigers’ offense. The secondary tightened up in the second half and gave the Gators offense an opportunity to win the game. Georgia has lost it’s best weapon to a season ending knee injury but that shouldn’t matter. Georgia has several other weapons on offense that could make the Gators defense have a long afternoon. Sophomore Sony Michel is special and the Gators defensive line needs to take this young man seriously. It looks like career backup Faton Bauta will get the start for Georgia. Bauta has been the 3rd string QB for Georgia but offers a dual threat that the Dawgs haven’t had in years. Mark Richt is desperate for this win and that should scare Gator fans. Florida’s only hope for a trip to Atlanta is on the back of it’s defense. Bauta has had only limited time on the field and the Gators defense needs to exploit that. Georgia’s offensive line is really good and whoever wins that battle between the Gators defensive line and Georgia’s offensive line will win this game.
Prediction: This is a rivalry game and these two teams are almost evenly matched in talent and skill. Mark Richt is trying to salvage a season with a victory in Jacksonville. But Georgia is too desperate at the quarterback position and seems to be grasping at straws to create a spark. I think this game comes down to coaching. And I think Jim McElwain is a better coach than Mark Richt. So I’m going with Coach Mac and the Gators.
Florida 24 Georgia 17