Georgia Bulldogs vs. Florida Gators preview: Showdown in Jacksonville


Regardless of what the current polls may tell you, the Georgia Bulldogs are in prime position to make a run at both the SEC and National Championships this season. Of course, there is a lot of work left to be done, and unfortunately, Mark Richt and his team will be forced to proceed over the next two weeks without the benefit of Todd Gurley in the lineup. Still, the Dawgs still possess a loaded roster, and on Saturday, they travel to Jacksonville to face a struggling version of the Florida Gators in the annual battle between the two rivals. Let’s preview the action.

Opponent: Florida Gators

Time/TV: 3:30 pm ET, CBS

Georgia Offense vs. Florida Defense

The Florida Gators are quite good on the defensive side of the ball. Yes, Will Muschamp’s team stands at just 3-3 on the season, but their record does not indicate just how talented and effective they have been defensively.

For instance, Florida currently ranks 12th in the nation and 3rd in the SEC in total defense, allowing only 317 total yards per game to opposing offenses. The Gators have not been particularly dominant against the pass or run, but they do rank among the top-30 nationally in both categories, and this is an extremely talented, physical and speedy group.

The lead story line on this side of the ball is the continued absence of Todd Gurley, but the presence of Nick Chubb certainly helps ease the burden. Chubb has been incredible over the past two games, running for more than 300 yards while carrying an immense workload, and with both Sony Michel and Keith Marshall highly doubtful to return here, we will see a lot of Chubb once again. It will be critical for Hutson Mason and company to keep the Gators from playing eight men in the box, but if they can do that, the bruising freshman is fully capable of achieving success.

As for the aforementioned Mason, he has been efficient and productive over the past two weeks. The senior has completed 32 of 45 passes (71%) for three touchdowns without issuing an interception, and that type of ball control could be crucial, especially given Florida’s inability to generate consistent offense. The weapons will “win” the game for Georgia, but Mason could certainly lose it with a turnover-prone effort.

Georgia Defense vs. Florida Offense

The Gators are as bad as advertised on the offensive side of the ball, leading to the decision to start Treon Harris at quarterback. On the whole, Florida’s offensive numbers appear to be respectable, but if you remove the 65-0 result in the season opener against Eastern Michigan and a triple-OT effort against Kentucky, the numbers are comically inept.

Harris is far more dynamic than incumbent QB Jeff Driskel has ever been, and Florida appears to be smart to utilize the more dynamic player. Still, this will be a hostile environment for the freshman, and Georgia’s front seven is among the most talented in America.

On the ground, Florida does have a stable of runners, but no single player has accumulated more than 424 yards in six games, and we should see a lot of Matt Jones and the aforementioned Harris. Georgia’s defense has been inconsistent at times on the back end, but the Dawgs still sport a top-20 overall ranking in scoring defense (just 19 points allowed per game), and Florida’s offensive issues should be magnified against one of the best defenses they’ve seen this season.


Rivalries are dangerous. I am required, by law, to make that point clear, simply because of the next sentence. This is not a game that Georgia should lose, and they are frankly better in every aspect of the game. Still, Harris gives the Gators a fighting chance at competent offense, and if things go sideways in the turnover battle, anything can happen. The Georgia Bulldogs are nearly a two-touchdown favorite for a reason, but that doesn’t mean they can get away with taking the Gators lightly in this heated spot.

Stay tuned for post-game coverage, and a live game thread that will open on Saturday morning. Check it out!