In their most pivotal game of the season, the No. 10 Georgia Bulldogs will travel to Jacksonville, Fla., to take on the No. 2 Florida Gators for the 89th time in their highly awaited meeting and a game that could give them that shot for a place on the road to Atlanta.
Currently, Georgia sits 6-1 overall and 4-1 in the SEC. Florida dominates the SEC East with a 7-0 overall record, while holding at a solid 6-0 in the SEC.
The Gators enter the weekend as the slight favorite, even though last year’s match saw the Bulldogs come out with a close 24-20 victory. In a game that fans hail as “The World’s Largest Cocktail Party”, the intensity will be higher than ever, especially since this is a game that could pave the way for either team to head to Atlanta for the coveted SEC Championship game. Entering this meeting, the Bulldogs hold a faintly positive, 47-40-2, record.
After a week of making headlines, Georgia looks to step up their game defensively after what many critics, and Shawn Williams alike, thought was a lack luster showing last week at Kentucky. Surprisingly, the Bulldog defense gave up 329 total yards to the Wildcat offense.
Taking a hit this week, the Georgia defense will have to face the Gators without their starting defensive end, Abry Jones, after undergoing season ending ankle surgery. Taking his place is junior Garrison Smith, who has a few starts under his belt already and currently ranked as the Bulldog’s second-leading tackler among linemen. Outside linebacker, Jarvis Jones, will be back for Georgia this week and will help carry the load to stop Florida’s perceived rushing offensive attack. Jones is a threat to any offense and feeds on opportunities to force turnovers.
Currently, the Gators are ranked 25th in the nation with their rushing offense and averages 212-yards per outing. Georgia’s defense enters Saturday ranked 72nd in rushing defense, allowing an average of 168-yards per game. While the Gators may not boast the strongest offense in the SEC, Georgia’s defense will still have to enter the game with a mindset of getting them off of the field quickly and taking advantage of mistakes.
Going into the weekend ranked 17th in the nation in scoring, the Bulldogs will rely heavily on junior quarterback Aaron Murray to carry the team offensively and manage the game, especially from the pocket. Murray has shown that he has the ability to handle pressure and is presently ranked third among all SEC quarterbacks in passing yards. This week, Murray must convince a seventh ranked Florida defense of his control and maturity if Georgia looks to come out with a critical win Saturday. Murray will have to focus on and settle into his passing game, since its forcasted that the freshman running back duo of Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, will not be able to dominate the ground game and put up large numbers against a polished Florida defense.
Because the game carries such an important level of not only pride, but the potential of advancing to one of the most important games in college football, do not expect for either team to go into Saturday looking for an easy victory. The Bulldogs can win, but it is going to take imperative leadership from Murray and a determined defense that takes the momentum early.
Kick-off is set for Saturday at 3:30 p.m. on CBS from Everbank Field.
About the Author
Written by Ashley Gulick
Sports Journalism is my passion! I keep up with the latest news on pro/college football, NASCAR and baseball....and just about everthing else. I grew up in Talladega, Ala., but moved to Georgia when I was 15. From a young age, I always knew that I wanted to be involved with sports somehow. Once I got into college and completed my degree in Communications, I knew that I had a passion for sports journalism. I have covered sports for the Kennesaw Sentinel (KSU's student paper), Marietta Daily Journal and Douglas County Sentinel.