It’s time for the annual pilgrimage to Jacksonville, as the Georgia Bulldogs are set to take on the Florida Gators in the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party (or whatever it is they want it to be called these days). Unfortunately, the stakes don’t seem quite as high as they normally would, with both teams being unranked at the moment, but either way, it’s a massive rivalry game for both programs. Let’s get to the particulars.
Opponent: Florida Gators (4-3, 3-2 in SEC)
Time/TV: 3:30 pm, CBS
Georgia Offense vs. Florida Defense
It’s the injury bowl! While the Bulldogs got the extremely positive news that Todd Gurley practiced on Tuesday and is expected to play, they will still be without Keith Marshall, Justin Scott-Wesley, Michael Bennett, and likely Chris Conley (who Mark Richt characterized as “doubtful”) for this game. With that said, Florida is just as banged up as the Dawgs (even if they’re the only team who can claim that in the country), and the Gators will be without at least 6 starters for the game.
Even with that, however, the Florida defense is extremely stout. They rank 8th in the country in points allowed (16.3) and 4th in the country in yards allowed per game (273.1), and the Gators possess talent on that side of the ball that rivals anyone nationally. Crazily, Florida ranks in the top-10 in both passing and rushing defense, but with their injuries and a returning Todd Gurley, this may be a spot for Mark Richt and Mike Bobo to lean on the running game.
It would be difficult to project a full workload for Gurley after sitting out for multiple weeks, but with JJ Green and Brendan Douglas filling in admirably, this is still a solid rushing offense. Aaron Murray has been, frankly, underwhelming for the past few weeks, however, and his receiving corps is so banged up that it could be a ground-and-pound effort for Georgia in this spot.
Georgia Defense vs. Florida Offense
For once, this side of the ball is probably a bit more promising. Florida ranks just 103rd in points per game this season (21.1) and they’ve been absolutely unable to throw the ball effectively in the wake of the injury to starting quarterback, Jeff Driskel. QB Tyler Murphy has been asked to fill in, and while his numbers aren’t dreadful, it’s an extremely vanilla offense. Throw in a new injury to starting left tackle D.J. Humphries (he’ll be out 2-4 weeks), and this is a tee-off spot for the Georgia defense.
Normally, the game plan for the Dawgs this season has been to plainly outscore opponents, but they could be better suited for a game in the 20′s due to the injuries. One injury note for UGA is that safety Josh Harvey-Clemons is expected to play after sustaining a foot injury against Vandy, but we’ll know quickly if he can be effective.
Florida is the chief rival for many UGA fans, and even if they don’t consider them as #1 (Georgia Tech), it’s always one of the biggest games of the season. The National Title aspirations are gone, but the SEC East is still in (distant) view with help from Missouri, and the loser of this game will be wholly eliminated from the proceedings. I believe Mark Richt and company will have the team ready to play here (especially after a week off), and Georgia is the better team in my view.
Stay tuned for post-game coverage, and a live game thread that will open on Saturday morning. Check it out!