Yes, this is my 56th consecutive year attending the Georgia-Florida game and I can tell you Saturday’s clash on the banks of the St. Johns River in Jacksonville isn’t a bit easier to predict than the very first Bulldogs-Gators game I attended way back in 1962.
You know the old saying when long-time rivals collide, that of throwing the records out the window. For the most part, that’s sort of an overused, worn-out statement which, most of the time, doesn’t hold a lot of water. When one team has a wealth of talent on its side and the other is sorely lacking in same, the heavy favorite is almost always going to triumph … long-time bitter rivals or not.
And as we jump head first into Saturday’s contest at EverBank Field, you all know that Kirby Smart’s 7-0, third-ranked Bulldogs are the solid choice, by 14-and-a-half points in some circles, to dispatch a struggling, 3-3 Florida team that continues to have problems when it comes to putting points on the scoreboard.
So, by all reasoning, most everyone is looking for the Dawgs to impose their will against the Gators this time and run the giant water lizards out of Jacksonville and back to their Gainesville swamp.
And certainly, if the University of Georgia can’t get it done this Saturday against the Orange and Blue, after all the misery of the last three decades (6-21 vs. UF since 1990) when, pray tell, will the Bulldogs ever begin to turn this series around … in the manner Vince Dooley (17-7-1) controlled the Gators from 1964 to 1988?
Yes, indeed, if a vastly superior Georgia team can’t put a beatdown on the Florida Gators come Saturday afternoon, I might start buying into Florida putting some sort of hex, a portion of Black Magic if you will, on their red and black rivals.
There simply is no reason for the Bulldogs, good as they’ve been playing this football season, to go out and lay a proverbial egg Saturday at EverBank. And, I’m not expecting them to!
As Smart said in his weekly press conference this past Monday, this team, this coaching staff, isn’t concerned about what’s happened in the past against the Florida Gators, isn’t concerned with who’s favored or who’s not favored in this game; all Smart and the Bulldogs are concerned about are the things they can control when they take the field on Saturday. And that’s to be focused on executing what they’ve practiced all week and beating the Florida Gators.
And here’s how Georgia is going to do exactly that: (1) Defensively, swarming the Gator running game with talented freshman tailback Malik Davis while also bringing the heat on UF quarterback Feleipe Franks; (2) Running the football down the Gators’ defense throats the entire afternoon while also mixing in a good passing day from Jake Fromm, and (3) Getting another splendid day from the UGA special teams … from the punting, place-kicking and kick coverage units.
I can tell you the Gators, as always, will be pumped to pull off what would be the upset of the year in the Southeastern Conference and I think their defense is good enough to keep this one rather tight in the early going but, in the end, that Georgia defense and the pounding running attack of the Bulldogs should wear these Gators down. Thus Georgia comes out of Jax 8-0 with a 31-13 dismantling of the Gators. And, maybe looking at a No. 2 national ranking if Ohio State takes care of Penn State this weekend.
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