This annual meeting in Jacksonville has been dubbed as the “World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party,” and they may want to stock some extra adult beverages for this year’s edition. The #9 Florida Gators face off with the #7 Georgia Bulldogs in a matchup that is certainly in the running for the most anticipated game of Week 9 of the College Football regular season.
Both squads enter this game with a mark of 6-1, and they are locked in a three-way tie for first place in the SEC East division with surprising Kentucky, which is currently the #12 team in the nation. To say the stakes are high for this rivalry game would be an understatement.
The winner will remain in the College Football Playoff conversation and have a clear path to the SEC title game, while the forecast will be murky for the loser. The intensity should be ratcheted up to around 11 by the time kickoff rolls around, as this one gets the SEC Game of the Week treatment for a national audience on CBS.
Let’s take a look at what both squads bring to the table for what shapes up to be an outstanding game in the late Saturday afternoon window.
Florida vs. Georgia, 3:30 PM EST, CBS
- Florida +6.5 (-105)
- Georgia -6.5 (-115)
- Florida +220
- Georgia -260
- Over 52 (-110)
- Under 52 (-110)
Florida vs. Georgia pick:
Florida’s lone blemish on the season is a 27-16 upset loss to Kentucky in Week 2, which marked the end of the Wildcats 31-game losing streak to its rival. Kentucky has gone on to show that its victory was no fluke, while the Gators have taken care of business over everyone else. That includes victories over nationally ranked SEC rivals Mississippi State and LSU.
The Gators are averaging 34.4 points per game while surrendering 16.6. The offensive attack has been pretty balanced overall, as evidenced by its averages of 211 passing yards and 197.3 rushing yards per contest. The defense has been stout on an overall basis, but there is weakness to be found against the run. The unit is generating a good amount of pressure with 21 sacks, 18 turnovers, and one defensive touchdown on the season.
Sophomore signal caller Feleipe Franks leads the way for the offense. He has completed 56.6 percent of his passes on the season for 1,406 yards, 15 TDs, and five picks. Franks also has 126 yards rushing and another score on the ground. The Gators have employed a committee approach in the backfield that has been quite effective, with junior Jordan Scarlett having a slight lead in total yardage. Junior Van Jefferson has emerged as the top wideout with 19 catches for 265 yards and four scores.
The Bulldogs were cruising along with a mark of 6-0 before running into #13 LSU. The Tigers dropped the hammer on Georgia to the tune of 36-16, and that naturally led the squad to take a tumble down the polls. Georgia had been a fixture in the top four up to that point, and the squad was being looked at as a serious College Football Playoff contender. They can still get there if everything breaks just right, but the path is naturally a lot tougher now.
Through seven games, Georgia is outscoring opponents by an average margin of 39-16.3. There’s balance on offense, but this is clearly a team that prefers the run as the Bulldogs are averaging a whopping 226.3 yards per contest on the ground. Defensively, Georgia is solid against both facets, and the unit is leaving a lot to be desired in terms of pressure with just nine sacks and nine turnovers generated on the year.
Sophomore QB Jake Fromm has the keys to the offense, but freshman Justin Fields has seen some work. On the season, Fromm has completed 66.9 percent of his passes for 13 scores and four picks. Junior Elijah Holyfield and sophomore D’Andre Swift have formed a solid one-two punch out of the backfield. Holyfield has a line of 65/488/4 thus far, while Swift has produced 71/362/4. Juniors Mecole Hardman and Riley Ridley have emerged as the top wideouts.
Looking ahead to the final month of the regular season, the Gators have a manageable schedule the rest of the way, with contests versus Missouri, South Carolina, Idaho, and Florida State on the docket. Georgia closes out the season with games against Kentucky, Auburn, UMass, and Georgia Tech.
When rivalry game earns a nickname, there’s a good chance there’s a ton of history between the two teams. That’s certainly the case here, as these two schools first met way back in 1915. They have met 95 times in total, with Georgia leading the all-time series with a record of 50-43-2. Over the past decade, the rivalry has been pretty even on an overall basis.
Over that span, Georgia is 4-6 straight up and 3-6-1 against the spread. The Over has come in five times, but just twice in the last seven meetings. The Bulldogs were victorious last year by a score of 42-7, but that came on the heels of Florida winning three straight. For last year’s meeting, Georgia was a 13.5-point favorite in a game with a projected total of 43.5 points.
The spread is tighter this time around, and the projected total has been kicked up a notch. The stakes can’t be overstated, and both programs have had two weeks to prepare. There’s nothing to suggest we won’t get a top notch effort from both sides, so it just comes down to the matchup itself.
Georgia entered the season with national title aspirations, but then LSU went and threw a wrench into plans. That would be the same LSU squad that Florida took down in an entertaining contest a few weeks back. The Gators loss to Kentucky seemed to wake the school up in big league fashion, and they have been at the top of their game ever since.
The Bulldogs are the better squad offensively, but the Gators have been the more impressive team on defense. In short, it looks like a slugfest and one of the better versions of this rivalry game in recent years. In the end, the Bulldogs do enough to get the job done.
We’ll take Georgia minus the points in what should be a stellar game.