Preview: Florida vs. Georgia
Florida and Georgia square off in this year’s edition of the “World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party” on Saturday in Jacksonville, with both teams highly ranked in the national polls. Both are fresh off their bye week, but the 11th-ranked Gators posted their fifth victory in a row last time out, while the sixth-ranked Bulldogs suffered their first loss of the season at LSU.
Florida was in a classic letdown situation when it stepped on the field at Vanderbilt, having just knocked off then-No. 6 LSU. The Gators came out flat in the first half and trailed by as many as 18 points, but a 48-yard touchdown run by Jordan Scarlett to start the fourth quarter helped them match the largest road comeback in school history in the 37-27 win. Georgia, meanwhile, used its bye week to reflect on a 36-16 loss in which its usually prolific offense was held to just 322 total yards. “We’ve got to look ourselves in the mirror and say, ‘OK, who are we?”’ Georgia coach Kirby Smart told reporters after the game. “Because we’ve consistently not played as physical as we need to on the defensive line and we haven’t been as consistent as we need to (be) offensively.”
TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS LINE: Georgia -6.5
ABOUT FLORIDA (6-1, 4-1 SEC): Florida’s offense was nearly unstoppable against the Commodores with 576 total yards and a time of possession of 36 minutes, 14 seconds, but three turnovers – two by quarterback Feleipe Franks – led to 17 points for Vanderbilt. The defense didn’t have its best performance of the season in Nashville, but it might be the key to upsetting the Bulldogs as the Gators feature the NCAA’s sixth-ranked passing defense and a line that has registered 21 sacks – good for third in the SEC. One area that could cause the Gators some problems is discipline, as their 8.8 penalties per game makes them the seventh-most penalized team in the country.
ABOUT GEORGIA (6-1, 4-1): Georgia’s offense had been averaging 42.8 points and its defense was ranked second in the nation at 13 points allowed before the setback against LSU. Sophomore quarterback Jake Fromm was particularly bad against the Tigers, completing just 16-of-34 passes for 209 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions, while the running game was held to just 113 yards – well below its prior season average of just under 245. Fromm and the Bulldogs are winners, however, and they know how to bounce back from a bad performance as they were crushed 40-17 at Auburn last season and responded with four straight triumphs en route to an appearance in the National Championship Game.
1. Georgia won last year’s meeting 42-7, snapping Florida’s three-game winning streak in the all-time series. The last time these teams met when both were ranked was in 2012, when No. 12 Georgia pulled off a 17-9 upset of No. 3 Florida.
2. The Gators are the only team in the current Top 25 that finished 2017 at or below .500.
3. The Bulldogs committed four turnovers against LSU after registering a total of three in their previous six contests.