We’ve finally made it to the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. I know we aren’t supposed to call it that anymore, but facts are facts.
Another fact: Florida actually comes into the contest with a higher national ranking than Georgia.
The following are our staff predictions for the game:
At the beginning of the year I predicted one regular season loss for the Gators. They did, in fact, lose and they did so to the team that I said they would. This team has resilience and for the first time since early September they’re at full strength. The return of Kadarius Toney on the offensive side of the ball adds even more explosiveness to an offense that has proven to have some firepower this year. The offensive line continues to improve and the running game is coming along with it. Despite the overall talent gap, I like Dan Mullen and his gameplan a lot more than Kirby and his inevitable mismanagement. The Gators win 34-17.
This is by far my favorite game every year. And towards the beginning of the year, I wasn’t sure the Gators stood a prayers chance against the Bulldogs. However, Georgia’s stock is falling while Florida’s is rising. And I think the deciding factor for this game comes down to the coaching. I say this as unbiased-ly as I can, but I’m pretty sure I’ll take Dan Mullen against most any coach in the country. Mullen’s game management has shown to be tremendous week in and week out — even in Florida’s one loss. Whereas Kirby, he’s got a knack for showing that he’s not always as good as a coach and developer as he is a recruiter. So while Georgia might have the edge in talent, Florida’s advantage is found pacing the sideline with a headset on. Dan Mullen was built for these games. And play by play, he will lead the Gators to a WLOCP victory — 31-21, Gators.
Regardless of what has happened this season, previous wins and losses do not matter. This is Georgia versus Florida. This is the game recruits dream of, getting to play in the big spotlight in Jacksonville, and because of that I would expect nothing less than a few memorable performances from either team. One player for the Gators who has shown more than anyone expected is Kyle Trask, who started the season as Feleipe Franks’ backup. Trask has since turned himself into one of the better quarterbacks in the SEC. For the Bulldogs, the matchup I am most anxious to see is how D’Andre Swift (752 rushing yards) goes up against the Gator defense. By the sound of the final whistle, I believe the Gators will keep their playoff hopes alive with a 27-24 win.
The 2019 season started with Georgia as preseason favorites to make the College Football Playoff and Florida as a distant dark horse contender. So who would have thought the Gators would come into the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party ranked ahead of the Bulldogs?
The quarterback play of Kyle Trask and the virtuoso play calling of Dan Mullen are major keys to No. 6 UF’s success, while a four-turnover disaster and two shanked field goals by kicker Rodrigo Blankenship against South Carolina contributed to No. 8 UGA’s plunge in the AP Poll.
However, Georgia outranks Florida in one vital area: the offensive line.
UGA’s big uglies have allowed only four sacks in seven games. FOUR. The Bulldogs also lead the SEC in rushing (236.9 yards per game) behind the ball-carrying of D’Andre Swift (107.4 yards per game), while Florida’s run defense has struggled mightily of late.
Pair Georgia’s ground game with the SEC’s No. 1 scoring defense (10.6 points per game) and No. 1 total defense (266.7 yards per game), and you have a cocktail recipe of disaster for Gator Nation. The game stays close, but UGA pulls away thanks to its bruising ground attack and stout defense, 30-22.
Before the season began, I didn’t think Florida had a chance to win this game. Georgia has out-recruited the Gators for a while now, and the talent should be leaning heavily in the Bulldogs’ favor.
But it’s not. And that mostly has to do with coaching. Dan Mullen has proven, yet again, that he knows how to develop talent.
While I truly believe that Florida has the more talented QB, this game will be decided in the trenches.
The Gators allowed 218 rushing yards against LSU and 217 against South Carolina. If Georgia has similar success on the ground, it could allow the passing attack to open up. However, if the return of Jonathan Greenard and Jabari Zuniga forces UGA to throw the ball, Florida will come out on top.
That said, I have Georgia winning, 31-28.
Also make sure to check out Own The Fourth Quarter featuring Michael And Will Miles of readandreaction.com.
What are your predictions, Gator Nation? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter or Facebook.