The annual Florida-Georgia game is Saturday in Jacksonville, Florida and, despite it being a down year for the Bulldogs, this game still has serious SEC East title implications.
If the Gators win out they will represent the East in Atlanta. A loss and Florida will need help from Tennessee, which owns the tiebreaker over the Gators. Georgia has struggled this season but would love to beat the Gators and potentially take a division championship away from Florida. The two rivals will kick off at 3:30 p.m. ET in the SEC on CBS game of the week.
Florida storyline: The Gators' defense has been the catalyst all season for their success. Against Georgia, stopping the run -- something the Gators have done extremely well -- will be the top priority. When the Bulldogs have run the ball well --like they did against North Carolina and South Carolina -- they've won. When Georgia's been forced to rely on freshman quarterback Jacob Eason to make a lot of plays through the air, they've struggled.
Florida's linebackers are among the best in the nation and that group flies to the football. They're led by star backer Jarrad Davis, who is nursing a sprained ankle but is hopeful to play. If he can't go or is less than 100 percent, others will have to step up and fill in for the Gators' leading tackler against Nick Chubb and the Georgia rushing attack.
Georgia storyline: This season has been a less than ideal start to the Kirby Smart era in Athens. The offense has struggled to find balance and consistency, but that was somewhat expected with a true freshman quarterback. The most disappointing part of the Georgia season has been the poor defensive play. Florida's offense isn't very dynamic, especially when playing a quality opponent, but the Gators have shown the ability to create big plays down the field in the passing game for quick strike scores.
Georgia's pass defense is ranked 69th nationally, allowing 228.6 yards per game, but are 88th nationally in yards per attempt allowed at 7.7. Against Florida, a team that struggles to run the football consistently, the Georgia pass defense must be tighter on the back end and not let the likes of Antonio Callaway get over the top for big plays. If the Bulldogs can force Florida to try to create long, sustained drives, they will likely see a lot of punter Johnny Townsend and stay in this game.
Game pick: Georgia +7.5. I don't love this pick, but when in doubt I take the points in a rivalry game. The Bulldogs know that a win here can salvage the season a bit and, while I don't think they have enough to win, I expect them to compete and keep this close. The fear here is that Eason tosses a couple of interceptions and Florida either dominates the field position battle all day and slowly pulls away or the Gators defense turns turnovers into immediate points. I'll say the Bulldogs' defense shows up and keeps them in a low-scoring battle.
|No. 14 Florida vs. Georgia, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS|
|Georgia +7.5|| || || || || || || |
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