THE WORLD’S LARGEST OUTDOOR COCKTAIL PARTY
Time: 3:30 p.m. ET/2:30 p.m. CT
TV: CBS (Check your local listings)
Watch Online: CBSSports.com
Spread: Georgia -6.5/-7
Records ATS: Florida 6-1 | Georgia 3-4
The latest edition of The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party will take centerstage on Saturday afternoon. The 6-1 Florida Gators will take aim at the 6-1 Georgia Bulldogs in a battle that could help decide the SEC East Champion. If that theme seems familiar, well, perhaps it ought to. After all, UF and UGA have represented the SEC East in Atlanta for the last three seasons. And given how things have shaken out this year, it’s possible that the Gators or the Dawgs will be in the big ol’ spaceship in ATL this year, too.
While UF’s only loss was to the Kentucky Wildcats, a win on Saturday could put them on the inside track. That’s because a loss for Georgia would put them down to two losses on the season in SEC play. They fell to the LSU Tigers the last time we saw them, of course, in a deflating 36-16 effort in Baton Rouge. Georgia hasn’t played Kentucky yet, but the probability of UK running the table the rest of the way is a little thin. So this game certainly has heavy stakes and implications.
If UGA wants to win, it’s best that they stick to their bread and butter. Running the ball is what they do best, as evident by their standings in most advanced statistics. They’re 9th in Rushing S&P+, 5th in marginal efficiency and 5th in opportunity rate. Given UF’s defensive numbers, they may have a field day. The thing that could turn the tide is that the Gators are susceptible to giving up big plays on the ground. The Gators defense is 83rd in marginal explosiveness against the run. So look for Elijah Holyfield and D’Andre Swift to get it going early and often.
On the whole, Florida’s defense is pretty solid against the pass. But ironically, on passing downs, they aren’t so great. They rank 54th in Passing Downs S&P+. What’s more is that their sack rate on passing downs ranks a mere 78th. So, Jake Fromm, who’s dying for a breakout performance after struggling vs. LSU, could find his chance to do that in the WLOCP.
Feleipe Franks may find his jersey to be pretty clean unless UGA steps up. That’s because the Bulldogs are 101st in sack rate, which is kind of absurd. They’re 89th in sack rate on passing downs, so they aren’t even getting to the QB when it matters most. Their sack leader is linebacker D’Andre Walker. But defensive lineman Tyler Clark is the only lineman on the team to have a full sack. Julian Rochester has 0.5 sack, and nobody else has registered one this season. This is a concern, of course, but for Franks he’ll have time to throw to his targets. And that may help him out, so long as he tries to avoid the dynamic Deandre Baker, of course.
This game might be an ugly one, as both teams are allowing around 16 points per game this season. I would expect a Georgia bounce back in this game, but Dan Mullen is certainly cooking something up in Gainesville.
Prediction: Georgia 20, Florida 16