Gameday Preview: What you need to know about Florida-UGA
A rivalry game with stakes attached to it. Those are always fun.
Both Florida and Georgia can take a giant step toward winning the SEC East with a win on Saturday. If recent history is any indication, the Bulldogs might have the advantage. Georgia has won three of its past four meetings against Florida.
Here’s some stuff to get you ready for game day.
No. 11 Florida (6-1, 4-1 SEC) vs. Georgia (5-2, 3-2 SEC) in Jacksonville, Saturday at 3:30 p.m. (CBS)
Weather: 80 degrees, 0 percent chance of rain
Line: Florida is favored to win by 3 points
Numbers to know:
* The Gators hold a turnover margin of plus-eight this season, which ranks first in the SEC and is tied for fifth in the country.
* Florida is struggling on the ground, averaging 99.4 rushing yards per contest and 2.9 yards per carry in five conference games this season. The Gators have just one run of 20 yards or longer in five SEC games.
* The Gators rank 15th in the country in sacks per game (3) and 19th in the country in tackles for loss per game (7.9).
* This will mark the 26th time in series history that Florida enters the game with a higher ranking. The Gators are 15-10 in those meetings, including 3-1 against Mark Richt’s Bulldogs teams.
* The Florida-Georgia series has produced surprising outcomes recently, as the higher-ranked team has lost six of the past 13 meetings.
Storylines to watch:
* A lot on the line: This rivalry game has high stakes attached to it. A Gators win would put them on the verge of clinching the SEC East, but a Bulldogs win would put them at the top of the division and in control of their own fate. Neither team can officially clinch the division, but the winner will be in the SEC East driver’s seat. The Gators haven’t represented the SEC East in the conference championship game since 2009. The Bulldogs haven’t advanced to the SEC championship game since 2012. Florida had a chance to make it to Atlanta in 2012, but the Gators fell to Georgia for their only regular-season loss to keep them out of the conference championship. A loss to Florida helped keep the Bulldogs out of the SEC title game last season. What will it be this year?
* Rushing issues: It has been a struggle for the Gators to get any production from their ground game recently. Florida is averaging 99.4 rushing yards per contest and 2.9 yards per carry in five conference games this season. Running back Kelvin Taylor leads the Gators with 463 yards on a team-high 129 carries this season. But the former Glades Day star has not averaged more than 3.5 yards per carry since Sept. 26 against Tennessee. Even worse, Florida has just one run of 20 yards or longer in five SEC games. The Gators have made it clear that they used part of the bye week to work on their running game and they are optimistic it will lead to improved results against Georgia. However, it doesn’t help that the Bulldogs’ rushing defense ranks 25th nationally and enters Saturday’s game motivated after last season’s performance. The Gators totaled 418 rushing yards in last year’s win over the Bulldogs. It would be surprising if Florida even came close to that number this season.
* Quarterback questions: Kind of strange, but the Gators actually enter a game as the team with the more stable quarterback situation. Sure, it’s still hard to predict what Florida will get out of quarterback Treon Harris. But the Gators’ situation doesn’t compare to all of the story lines surrounding Georgia. According to reports, Dwyer product Faton Bauta will start as the Bulldogs’ quarterback against the Gators in place of usual starter Greyson Lambert. Bauta is known for his running ability and has not thrown a pass through seven games this season. Florida will have to be prepared to face multiple Georgia quarterbacks on Saturday. It seems like the Gators are going to get a taste of their own medicine this week.
My prediction: Florida 17, Georgia 10.
Anthony’s season picks record: 5-2.