No. 2 Florida vs. No. 10 Georgia (in Jacksonville, Fla.)
Saturday, 3:30 PM, CBS
Line: Florida -6.5
Both Florida and Georgia enter the game formerly known as “The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party” ranked in the top 10. The stakes seem to be high almost every year, but the winner of this game would clearly put themselves in the driver’s seat for the SEC East division title. After Saturday, Florida only has one more conference game left (against Missouri on November 3). Georgia has two left, against Ole Miss and Auburn.
Emotions are sure to be running high on Saturday afternoon. Georgia snapped a three game losing streak against the Gators last season, so count on Florida to be out for revenge among everything else. The battle for the Okefenokee Oar should be a barnburner.
For Florida to win: Control the ball. It sounds more like a basketball key to victory than a football one, but control possession of the football. Don't turn it over, and force turnovers. The Gators scored 44 points on South Carolina last week and yet had less than 200 yards of offense. That's because the Gators didn't turn the ball over themselves, possessed the ball for 35 minutes, and forced the Gamecocks to cough it up four times. Short fields and shorten the game, and a victory should be in hand for the Gators.
For Georgia to win: Stop the run. The Bulldogs are usually pretty good at this, but last week they allowed 206 yards rushing to the Kentucky Wildcats. If the Bulldogs give up that many rushing yards to the Gators, they will struggle to win the game. Although the Georgia offense can be quick strike, I don't think they want to put that much pressure on the offense to score every possession.
Key Player, Florida: Mike Gillislee, RB. Gillislee looked like he had developed into a workhorse back with his stunning game against the LSU Tigers, when the senior rushed for 146 yards and two touchdowns on 34 carries. The last two weeks has has totaled 36 carries for 104 yards and no scores. Given Georgia porous run defense last week, the offensive coaching staff has to be dissecting what Kentucky did against the Bulldogs and preparing Gillislee for a yeoman's day.
Key Player, Georgia: Alec Ogletree, LB. The linebacking corps is the heart of the defense, and if Georgia is going to have a good day and beat Florida, they will need the junior inside linebacker to step up and play big. Ogletree missed the first four games of the season, but he has averaged 11 tackles a game since coming back. If the Bulldogs are going to get back to shutting down the run, Ogletree will be a key cog in the middle of the defense.
Key Stat: 89. Or 90. Like a lot of good rivalry games, there is a bit of controversy involved. Not just the infamous "Gator Stomp" mass celebration ordered by Mark Richt in 2007, or the revenge exacted by Urban Meyer in 2008 when he called all of his remaining timeouts in the final minute to let the Gator fans celebrate a blowout victory.
These two teams can't even agree on how many matchups there have been in the series. Florida has the count at 89. Georgia has the count at 90. The debate is over a game that was played in 1904 in Macon, Georgia. Florida doesn't count the game because they claim to have not existed at the time; that the University of Florida that faced Georgia in that game was not the University of Florida as it stands today.
Aren't rivalry games fun?