The Florida Gators are in unfamiliar territory this year and might be out of the hunt for the SEC championship after this week. Well, Georgia vs. Florida week is finally here. All year long, this game is circled on both team’s schedules. The game itself has become almost second fiddle to the tailgate atmosphere and RV city that springs up literally Sunday night the week before the game. The Okeefenokee Oar is the trophy presented to the winning team in the annual Florida vs. Georgia Football Classic. The trophy was introduced for the 2009 contest, though the football rivalry between the University of Florida Gators and the University of Georgia Bulldogs dates to 1915. The 2009 contest, won by Florida 41–17 was the first between the two teams for the trophy.
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All of Florida’s recent issues are not all visible to the eye on tape. They have been hampered by injuries and they have had to deal with significant losses to the NFL Draft, injuries, and suspensions. A sprained foot has slowed junior running back Jeff Demps, who won the 2010 NCAA championship in the 100-meter dash with a blazing time of 9.96 seconds, since the third game of the season. But he benefited from an open date last week and is expected to be at or near 100 percent. He has averaged 7.3 yards per touch as a running back in his career, tied for No. 1 in the nation among active RBs with at least 250 touches. In addition, Demps has averaged 32.5 yards on eight kickoff returns this season. If Florida gets back healthy the play makers of Debose, Demps, Rainey and Burton, UGA will be in for a long day. The Dawgs have had trouble all year accounting for smaller, mobile targets. All-Everything Kentucky player Randall Cobb ran roughshod over, through and around the Georgia defense last week in Lexington. A mobile Colorado QB converted many third downs with his feet and scrambling until receivers down field could get open. I’d expect the Gators to try and get the ball to their best Offensive weapons in space with screens plays, delay draws and short yardage passes. Georgia is very good vs. the run and has a potent pass rush with LB Justin Houston tops in the SEC in sacks. Slowing the UGA pass rush is key for Florida to give Brantley time to sit in the pocket and pick apart a young suspect Secondary.
Georgia on the other hand must do what it does best, stay balanced. RB Caleb King will return for this game and will be hungry I’d bet to make up for lost playing time. He is a big back who can pound a Defensive line. RB Washuan Ealey is coming off a career game last week when he had 5 TD’s and 157 rushing yards. He sprained his MCL towards the end of that game and although he says he is playing Saturday, it remains to be seen how effective he can be. If he is ok to run, then UGA can rotate both backs with the smaller Carlton Thomas being the third RB and keep fresh legs in the game. AJ Green has been spectacular since his return. Look for Florida to roll a safety over the top of AJ to help the corner back out. By doing that, the other Georgia receivers will be in man coverage to the other side. WR Kris Durham is having a career year and his 6’5” height will come in handy vs. UF’s smaller corners. Flankers Tavarres King, Rantavious Wooten and Marlon Brown are certainly capable of hurting the Gators if they concentrate on Green too much. Defensively, Georgia ranks #4 in the SEC and #19 in the nation through 8 games. They are pretty evenly matched considering UGA has faced four of the top seven Total Offenses in the SEC. Georgia does come in with the #1 ranked Rushing Defense in the SEC and 12th ranked in the country going against Florida’s 10th of 12 SEC teams Rushing Offense.
Gators vs Bulldogs Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
Florida Gators +2.5
@ Georgia Bulldogs -2.5
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Gators vs Bulldogs Predictions for Week 9:
Game Total (TOP PLAY) – The Gators offense has been hindered the last two weeks, which comes as a shock as this team possess 4 out of the top 10 offensive recruits from the recruiting class of two years ago. Florida can score and I expect their offense to break out of their ‘funk’ this week against an untested Georgia secondary. This game will be played on neutral ground (although it will be in the State of Florida) so overwhelming crowd noise will not hinder both teams. The total has gone OVER in 4 of Florida’s last 6 games, while the total has gone OVER in 4 of Georgia’s last 6 games. Also, the total has gone OVER in 4 of Georgia’s last 6 games when playing Florida. I recommend taking a look at the OVER in this SEC battle of the unranked.
Spread Prediction – Forget about the Gators recent struggles and the fact that they are no longer ranked among the nations top 25, this is a good football team. UGA and Florida are meeting at a weird crossroad. This is the first time in almost 30 years both teams have entered the game unranked. UGA has won their last three games; Florida has lost their last three games. Georgia’s Head Coach was on the “hot seat”; now UF’s Head Coach is getting warmer by the week. Both teams need to win in order to stay alive in the wacky SEC Eastern Division race. If Florida wins, it allows them to continue to control their own destiny to get to Atlanta and will silence the gator growls coming from Gainesville. Georgia is 4-8 ATS in its last 12 games when playing Florida and have lost 10 of their last 12 against Florida straight up. If UGA wins this game, then I will climb aboard the Bad Wagon Express and hope for an SEC title game. Outcome may rely on the fact that Florida wants to win this game; whereas Georgia needs to win this game. Florida is 21-4 SU in its last 25 games and I do not expect this number to continue to falter this week. We will consider the Gators clawing there way back into the SEC ranks with a win over the Bulldogs Saturday afternoon. Cheers!
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