For the second consecutive season and sixth time since they started meeting one another, the Florida Gators and Georgia Bulldogs will face off on Saturday as Top 10 teams in the AP Poll. The sixth-ranked Gators and eighth-ranked Bulldogs’ clash in Jacksonville is one of the more pivotal editions of the WLOCP in recent memory due to the stakes at hand.
The winner of this game should no doubt have the inside track to Atlanta. It’s certainly an important game, but the importance is likely raised further for Georgia than it is Florida. Not only did UGA already lose to a team that their opponents already beat — the South Carolina Gamecocks — but the Dawgs have a harder schedule down the road than their adversaries.
That being said, it’s obvious that both teams are skating on thin ice. With one loss apiece — both losses coming in conference play — the SEC East Division Championship may as well be on the line here. Plus, the possibility of either side making a push for a College Football Playoff spot. Especially in the case of, again, UGA, who defeated the Notre Dame Fighting Irish earlier in the year. ND may be down to 16th in the nation after their loss to the Michigan Wolverines, but they still rank awfully highly. For Florida, well, they have the win over the 11th-ranked Auburn Tigers to hang their hats on right now.
While they’ve had their struggles on offense, you can’t deny the fact that the Georgia defense has been a terror. They rank fifth in points per game allowed, 18th in passing yards per game allowed, fifth in rushing yards per game allowed, 13th in YPC allowed, 8th in yards per play allowed and seventh in the nation in total yards allowed per game. This is a standout unit that has been agitating for opposing offenses to deal with. It will be intriguing to see how Kyle Trask plays against them, as Trask has done a good job under center for UF this season. While they’ve given up 305 total rushing yards in the last two games, it’s worth noting that their last game was a slopfest against the Kentucky Wildcats, in which the Wildcats basically had to run the ball. The game against South Carolina was more dire, but they still held them to under 4.0 YPC.
Lamical Perine and the Gator backs will have The Gators are coming off a stellar rushing performance against those Gamecocks. They torched them for 155 yards on a mark of 5.3 yards per carry. So they’re going to be very confident, even though they face to face arguably the stingiest defense in the SEC this year. But they have stagnated a little bit over the last three games. Since hitting 7.0 YPP against Towson, the Gators have hit marks of 5.5, 5.4 and 5.7 YPP against South Carolina, the LSU Tigers and the Auburn Tigers. Granted, the competition level there is pretty high, but it could be cause for a little concern against the great Georgia defense.
Will Georgia’s offense finally get it going though? Their run game has never been the cause for concern. Not this season for sure, as they’re averaging 6.2 yards per carry through the first seven games of the year. The passing game has been nothing if not inconsistent. While some of the raw numbers look rather good, passing is where the main strikes against the offense have come. Jake Fromm will have his work cut out for him against a rather solid Florida pass defense, one that ranks 33rd in the nation in passing YPG allowed.
All told, this should prove to be a very fun edition of the WLOCP down in Jacksonville. The trickle down effect of this game should prove interesting as well for many a reason.
HOW TO WATCH
Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
Spread: Georgia -6 is the consensus after the Dawgs opened as 3.5-point faves
Total: 45.5 is the consensus
Moneyline: Georgia -240 | Florida +190
Records ATS: Georgia 3-4 | Florida 4-2-2