Coming off a bye for the second time in three weeks (this time a planned break), No. 14 Florida Gators football will look to maintain its lead in the SEC East as it attempts to win its third straight game over its border rival.
Here’s what you need to know and how you can watch Florida-Georgia.
Event: World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party
Location: EverBank Field – Jacksonville, Florida [Capacity: 82,871]
Weather: 81°F (feels like 84°F), 5 percent chance of rain, winds ENE at 12 mph
Time: 3:30 p.m. EST
TV: CBS (Verne Lundquist, Gary Danielson, Allie LaForce)
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter
Tale of the tape
|No. 14 Florida Gators||Georgia Bulldogs|
|Head Coach||Jim McElwain||Kirby Smart|
|Record||5-1 (3-1 SEC)||4-3 (2-3 SEC)|
Four things to know
1. Bye week not-so blue: Florida entered the season knowing it would be one of two teams in the nation to face teams coming off bye weeks in three straight games (Missouri, Georgia, Arkansas), but little did the Gators know they would have byes entering not one but two of those contests. Hurricane Matthew forced the postponement of Florida-LSU, and while UF didn’t get extra time to prepare for Mizzou, it did have a chance be fresh and eventually pulled off a 40-14 win. Things are a bit more even this week with UGA also having off, but it should not be discounted that an injured Florida team has received some time to get healthy and built confidence.
2. Match game: There’s no doubt that the Bulldogs’ strength is their stout backfield. Georgia’s impressive three-headed monster is led by star Nick Chubb (116 carries, 586 yards, five touchdowns) and dynamic compliment Sony Michel (73 carries, 358 yards, touchdown), but it should not be overlooked that Florida’s primary rushers are putting up similar averages despite UF’s committee approach. Sophomore Jordan Scarlett (67 carries, 375 yards, five touchdowns) and freshman Lamichal Perine (48 carries, 300 yards, touchdown) should be running all afternoon on Saturday, especially since junior Mark Thompson is suspended for a violation of team rules. If the Gators can match or exceed their opponent’s efforts on the ground, it would spell good things for the SEC East leaders.
3. All about the big plays: A top-rated Florida defense and up-and-coming Georgia unit should make this a low-scoring game … except both have a propensity for giving up explosive plays. For a UF team that struggled in the second half against Tennessee, going up against the best arm talent it has faced this season — “he’s the future of the SEC,” McElwain said — is certainly concerning. It will be yet another opportunity for “DBU” to try and live up to its own moniker, especially after a tremendous performance two weeks ago in which juniors Jalen Tabor and Quincy Wilson nabbed back-to-back pick-sixes.
4. Look to the pass rush: While the Gators’ secondary gets all the national acclaim, Florida’s defensive front seven has been tremendous this season. Though the unit is injured with multiple players questionable to see the field Saturday (see below), the pressure it has been able to get on quarterbacks throughout the season has been impressive. Five players have multiple sacks, led by an astounding five by freshman Jabari Zuniga, while nine have multiple quarterback hurries and two-plus tackles for loss. Forcing Georgia QB Jacob Eason off his spot and making him scramble around could lead to additional turnover opportunities on Saturday.
Pick and analysis
Spread: Florida -7.5 | O/U: 44
There are so many different ways this game can go, especially with both teams coming off bye weeks. Georgia’s defense is better than most think (it’s ranked 20th nationally in total defense), though the Bulldogs fall apart in the red zone, which coincidentally is where the Gators’ offense has struggled the most this season. Similarly, Florida’s offense is not getting enough credit for taking a step forward and finding some playmakers, though its quarterback had his worst game of the season in his return from injury two weeks ago.
Giving a defense like that fielded by the Gators two weeks to prepare is a scary proposition, though allowing the Bulldogs’ star freshman quarterback that same time to hone his game is a fair concern for the other side. In the end, Florida should be able to force some turnovers and dictate the pace of the game. Georgia may have two star tailbacks, but UF has the opportunity to maintain possession by toting the rock, too.
Look for the Gators to win but fall short of the number with the total going over.
2016 records: ATS picks 3-3 | O/U picks 2-4
Injuries and absences
Active (1): RG Tyler Jordan (eye)
Probable (2): DE Jordan Sherit (knee), DT Joey Ivie (thumb)
Questionable (4): LB Jarrad Davis (ankle), DE Bryan Cox Jr. (thumb), TE DeAndre Goolsby (hand), DB Quincy Lenton (foot)
Out (4): RB Mark Thompson (suspension), RB Jordan Cronkrite (undisclosed), DL Justus Reed (undisclosed), WR Kalif Jackson (knee)
Out for the season (3): WR Dre Massey (knee), OL Antonio Riles (knee), DB C.J. McWilliams (undisclosed)
» Georgia owns a 49-42-2 all-time record against Florida with a 44-39-1 mark in Jacksonville.
» The Gators have won six of the last 10 meetings and 20 of the last 26 against the Bulldogs, including back-to-back victories over the last two years.
» Since 2008, Florida has won its five games by an average of 21.6 points, while Georgia has won its three contests by 5.0 points.
» Florida’s defense has been a hallmark of the program; UF is 209-11 since 1990 when an opponent scores 21 points or fewer in a contest, including 14-0 under McElwain.
» Also under McElwain, the Gators are 14-0 against unranked opponents and 1-5 against ranked opponents. Florida is 12-0 when outrushing an opponent, 14-2 when scoring first and 12-1 when leading at half.
» The Gators own the nation’s longest streak of returning either a kickoff or punt for a touchdown, doing so in 12 straight seasons.
» UF has the second-most wins in the nation since 1990 (254).
Florida will be wearing blue jerseys, orange helmets and white pants. The team captains, which change weekly, are responsible for choosing the uniforms ahead of each game.
Three Heisman Trophy winners, one desk