Despite challenges from Tennessee, South Carolina, Kentucky, and Missouri, none of the also-rans in the SEC East made a dent.
Once again, the SEC’s ugly sibling (consider the East Jan and the West Marsha Brady) comes down to the “World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party” on Jacksonville’s neutral field.
While there are three other games in the SEC, only #7 Texas A&M traveling to South Carolina has national consequences. Alabama returns to action next week, traveling to LSU.
#5 Georgia (4-1) vs #8 Florida (3-1), 3:30 PM EST
The Bulldogs defeated Kentucky 14-3 last week, rebounding from their latest second-half collapse against Alabama.
In a game marred by a halftime brawl, featuring Head Coach Dan Mullen, Florida answered any detractors criticizing their loss to Texas A&M by thumping Missouri 41-17.
Strength vs. Strength
Much like the Bulldogs-Tide meeting earlier this season, two of the nation’s most talented units (Gators offense, Bulldogs defense) clash.
|Offense vs Defense|
|Florida Offense||Georgia Defense|
Georgia ranks first in the SEC in total defense (300.6 YPG) and PPG (16.2). Georgia ranks first in rushing defense, allowing just 80 YPG. However, both Alabama and Kentucky succeeded, averaging 142.5 rushing yards after the Bulldogs held their first three opponents under 39 rushing YPG.
|Georgia Rushing Defense|
|1st 3 Games||Last 2 Games|
Florida ranks third in the SEC in total offense (476.5 – trailing Alabama & Ole Miss), and second in PPG (42 – behind Alabama).
Weaknesses to Exploit
Georgia ranks third in the SEC in rushing YPG (175.2). Thanks to the return of tackle Kyree Campbell, the Gators held Missouri to 40 rushing yds. Florida allowed 164 rushing YPG in their first three games, including 205 in their loss to Texas A&M.
Last season, Georgia held Florida’s explosive offense to only seven possessions in their 24-17 win. The team with more rushing yards won the previous 14 meetings in this matchup.
|Florida Rushing Defense|
|1st 3 Games||vs Missouri|
Kyle Trask continues to improve despite setting consistently high standards to surpass each week. Despite playing only four games, Trask’s 18 TD passes and 189.2 passer rating rank in the top two. His 335 passing YPG ranks second behind Mac Jones in the SEC.
Like the Tide, the Gators possess weapons to challenge Georgia’s secondary, culminating with TE Kyle Pitts. Pitts ranks third in the SEC with seven TD receptions while ranking ninth averaging 16.9 yds per catch.
Georiga’s pass rush, led by Azeez Ojulari (4.5 sacks) and Adam Anderson (2.5), sparks a defense leading the SEC with 17 sacks. If both don’t pressure Trask, Georgia doesn’t stand much of a chance.
Stetson Bennett’s struggles over his last two games provide many of the doubts experts have about Georgia. If Bennett can return to his success earlier in the season, Georgia’s success skyrockets.
|Last 2 Games||1st 3 Games|
Can Either Program Challenge Alabama in the SEC Championship?
Criticizing Georgia’s inability to finish against the Tide should come with perspective. Educated analysts recognize how little separates both teams, and another matchup could produce a different result.
The same applies to Florida, whose offensive firepower rivals Ole Miss, who gave Alabama fits earlier this season. While both programs possess the talent and coaching to challenge the Tide, Alabama’s complete dominance this season is impressive. One also needs to remember Nick Saban’s crew currently holds a 29-game win streak against SEC East opponents.
|PPG, YPG Differential|
|W-L||PPG Diff.||YPG Diff.|
All-time Series – Georgia leads 53-43-2
Last Nine Matchups – Georgia 6, Florida 3
The Bulldogs enter with a three-game win streak. Before that, Florida and Georgia swapped three-game win streaks.
The Spurrier/Meyer Era – Starting with the hire of Steve Spurrier in 1990, extending through Urban Meyer’s final season in 2010 (also includes FireRonZook three seasons from 2002-04), the Gators won 18 of 21.
Like their matchup against the Tide, Georgia needs to keep up offensively with Florida’s juggernaut. I don’t believe they can, although it will come down to the final minutes with Florida’s ability to run the ball in the fourth quarter making the difference.