October 30, 2009

Breakdown: Georgia vs. No. 1 Florida

WHERE: Jacksonville Municipal Stadium

WHEN: Saturday, 3:30 p.m.

RECORDS: Georgia 4-3, 3-2; Florida 7-0, 5-0p>HEAD COACHES: Georgia - Mark Richt (86-25, ninth year); Florida - Urban Meyer - (51-9, fifth year; 90-17 overall)

TV/RADIO: CBS (Vern Lundquist, Gary Danielson, Tracy Wolfson/Georgia Bulldog Radio Network

The Game

The Georgia-Florida series began in 1904, a 52-0 win by the Bulldogs in Macon. Georgia leads the series 47-38-2, including a 40-35-1 mark in Jacksonville. In 2007, No. 20 Georgia celebrated a 42-30 win over the No. 9 Gators before Florida answered with a 49-10 wipeout of the Bulldog last year. Florida has won nine of the past 12 meetings.

Open Date Success

Georgia is 11-3 under Richt following an open date including 1-0 when it comes before the Florida game. The last time it happened was in 2007 when No. 20 Georgia upset No. 9 Florida 42-30. This year will mark only the sixth time in the history of the series that the Bulldogs come in with a well-rested squad.

Overall, Georgia is 3-2 against the Gators coming off a bye week, and before the 2007 meeting, the last time Georgia had a bye before the Florida game was 1991. Meanwhile, the Gators have had an open date before facing the Bulldogs 18 times including 13 of the past 16 years. Florida is 14-4 in these games.

A.J. Green Update

Georgia sophomore A.J. Green is building on a successful freshman season and is currently leading the SEC in total receiving yards (682), receiving yards per game (97.4) and rec. per game (5.9). His 682 yards rank 19th in the nation. Green snagged eight catches for 153 yards and a touchdown versus ASU, giving him four career 100-yard games, and was named the SEC Offensive Player of the Week. He also blocked his first career field goal late in the fourth quarter against the Sun Devils to help secure the win. Against the Razorbacks, he registered 137 yards on seven catches and a career-high two touchdowns.

Green has had at least one TD in four out of the last five games and leads the league with six TD receptions this season. In 2008, Green led the SEC in receiving yardage, yards per game and tied for first in TDs by receivers. He became the first Bulldog to lead the SEC in receiving since Brice Hunter (59 rec., 799 yds.,7 TDs) in 1994.

Injury Update

The Bulldogs are actually healthier than they've been in recent weeks.

Linebackers Akeem Dent (hamstring) and Marcus Dowtin (finger) will be returning to action after missing six and two games, respectively.

Meanwhile, defensive end Kiante Tripp has been cleared to play but Richt has not decided how much action he will receive.

Gator Bites

Carlos Dunlap leads the team with five sacks, while Ryan Stamper paces the Gators with 46 tackles. Major Wright leads the way with three interceptions. … Florida has surrendered six touchdowns this season (two rushing, two passing, two interception returns), fewest by any team in the nation, as well as 10 field goals, for a total of 71 points. The 10.1 points per game is tied for No. 2 in the nation. … UF has held its past three opponents to a combined 8-of-50 (.160) on third downs. … UF has forced opponents into a three-and-out on 57.3 percent of their drives (43 of 75), the best mark in the SEC. … The Gators have allowed just three touchdowns on 13 opponents' red zone trips in 2009. Florid is the only team nationally that has surrendered just three red zone touchdowns.

Tebow Tales

Quarterback Tim Tebow has rushed for six touchdowns this season, bringing him to 49 for his career, tied for the all-time SEC record with Herschel Walker (Georgia, 1980-82). He tied the record with a 26-yard scoring run against Mississippi State, which tied for the longest touchdown rush of his career (Vanderbilt, 2008). … Tebow's career rating of 170.2 currently ranks No. 1 in SEC history (min. 300 completions). Florida's Danny Wuerffel ranks second at 163.6, and Auburn's Jason Campbell checks in at third with 148.2. Tebow's rating is also better that the current NCAA FBS record (min. 325 completions), which was set by Boise State's Ryan Dinwiddie with a 168.9 mark (2000-03).

Prediction

OK, I admit it. My predictions regarding the Bulldogs have absolutely stunk this year. I chalk it up to the inconsistency with which Georgia has played this entire season - one never quite knows what you're going to see.

But hey, we'll give it a shot.

I'll say this. When the season began, I had already chalked this game up as a sure loss, another blowout.

But as the season has moved along, I started taking another look.

Florida has not been near as impressive despite its 7-0 mark. And hey, the Gators almost lost to Arkansas, a team Georgia beat 52-41 in Week 3 of the season before struggling again to beat Mississippi State.

I guess I'd feel better about Georgia's chances if it had some semblance of a running game. Yeah, the Bulldogs were impressive against Vanderbilt rushing for 173. But let's not kid ourselves. The defense of the Dores hardly compares with what the Gators bring to the table.

We'll see.

I was already to drink the proverbial Kool-Aid and pick the Dawgs in what would be one of the bigger upsets in college football this year.

No, I don't think the Gators will cover the spread like the boys in Las Vegas predict.

But dang it, until Georgia can show it can run the football with any consistency, I just can't quite take the plunge.

Prediction: Florida 24, Georgia 17.




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