Week 9: No. 1 Florida Gators vs. Georgia Bulldogs

By Adam Silverstein
October 31, 2009

Location: Jacksonville Municipal Stadium – Jacksonville, FL [Capacity: 84,000]
Time: 3:30 p.m. (EST)
Weather Forecast: 83°F – Partly Sunny

Online: Live for FREE at CBS Sports.
Sirius: 217; XM: 200

Florida Gators Georgia Bulldogs
Head Coach: Urban Meyer Head Coach: Mark Richt
Record: 7-0 (5-0) Record: 4-3 (3-2)
Division: SEC East Division: SEC East
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -14.5, O/U 48
Head-to-Head Stats: Gainesville Sun

Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow…who is currently tied with former Georgia Bulldogs running back Herschel Walker in all-time Southeastern Conference rushing touchdowns with 49. He needs one more to break Walker’s record.
– Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green vs. Florida cornerback Joe Haden…whose battle could be the highlight of the game. Haden will try his best to match-up with the Bulldogs’ greatest weapon who has already caught 41 balls for 682 yards and six touchdowns on the season including individual performances of 137 and 152 yards. Green has scored touchdowns in five of Georgia’s seven games.
– Florida’s kicker…as Caleb Sturgis has missed two 37-yard field goals and an extra point combined over the last two weeks. Jonathan Phillips could step in for Sturgis and take his job back.
– The I-formation…which the Gators worked on all summer and found success with last week against the Mississippi State Bulldogs. Florida may use it more extensively this week, especially in the red zone where the team needs to be more efficient.

– The Gators are in the middle of the longest winning streak in school history with 17 consecutive victories. They also hold the longest active winning streak in the NCAA and the longest of any SEC team since the Auburn Tigers won 20 straight from 1993-94.
– The Bulldogs are 6-1 when playing the defending national champion, including victories over Florida in 1997 and 2007.
– Meyer is 13-1 in rivalry games against Georgia, Tennessee Volunteers, Florida State Seminoles and Miami Hurricanes. His sole loss came against Georgia in 2007.
– Georgia leads both the all-time series against Florida (46-38-2) and all games played in Jacksonville (40-35-1).
– Florida leads the SEC in total offense (457), rushing offense (258.3), scoring offense (36.3) and third-down efficiency (.460). The Gators have converted 48.6% of their offensive drives into points including 34.7% into touchdowns and have 33 runs of 10-plus yards on first down, including 13 for 20 yards or more – all tops in the SEC.
– On defense, the Gators have only surrendered six touchdowns all season (fewest of any team in the nation) and average 10.1 points per game (No. 2 in the nation). Florida has held its past three opponents to a combined 16% on third down conversions and have forced opponents into a three-and-out on 57.3% of their drives – best in the SEC.

Read OGGOA’s complete Florida vs. Georgia preview after the jump…

No. 1 Florida Gators vs. Georgia Bulldogs Preview

Experiencing a rough go of things in recent weeks, the No. 1 Florida Gators (7-0, 5-0) take a trip down I-10 to square off against the Georgia Bulldogs (4-3, 3-2) on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. in the latest installment of the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium. 2009’s contest marks the first game in the series where the newly minted Okefenokee Oar trophy will be awarded to the winner.

Florida senior quarterback Tim Tebow threw two interceptions that were returned for touchdowns but still led the Gators in a 29-19 victory over the Mississippi State Bulldogs last week on the road. In the game, Tebow ran for a 26-yard score which put him tied with Georgia running back Herschel Walker for the 49th of his career – an all-time SEC rushing touchdown record. Tebow looks to break Walker’s mark Saturday against his very own team.

This week, the Gators go into their contest against the Bulldogs still seething over the disrespect they were shown two years ago when Georgia danced on the field following the opening touchdown of what would be a 42-30 UGA victory. Florida got some revenge in 2008, defeating Georgia 49-10 with head coach Urban Meyer calling two timeouts at the end of the fourth quarter to let the dominating performance sink in. The Bulldogs claim this display from Meyer is equally fueling them for Saturday’s game.

Down four defensive starters due to injury last week, the Gators will return all of them to action including senior middle linebacker Brandon Spikes (groin), junior defensive end Justin Trattou (bicep) and defensive tackles redshirt junior Lawrence Marsh (ankle) and redshirt sophomore Jaye Howard (knee). Sophomore running back Jeff Demps sprained his neck last week but has already been cleared to play. Still out for Florida are redshirt junior DT Brandon Antwine (shoulder) and cornerbacks junior Moses Jenkins (concussion) and senior Wondy Pierre-Louis (hamstring).

Bulldogs head coach Mark Richt faces a formidable opponent in the Gators’ defense and must rely on his star playmaker, wide receiver A.J. Green, to spread the field and keep Florida’s unit honest. The Gators believe they can stop the Bulldogs’ rushing attack with seven in the box, so proving they can run the ball against the best rushing defense in the nation will be important for Georgia. Florida will attempt to get its passing game going for the first time in weeks by taking advantage of Georgia’s weak secondary. How the Gators have game planned on offense will be paramount to their success this week.

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