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After a two week hiatus, the Gators put on a show against Missouri a week ago. Both the offense and defense were clicking for the first time this season. That happened just in time for the rivalry showdown with Georgia in Jacksonville.

The following are our staff’s predictions for the 2020 version of The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.

Ainslie Lee:

*sigh* This prediction is never easy. And with all of the other moving parts involved in this strange season, it makes it that much harder. I believe that if Florida’s defense can match the intensity it showed against Missouri, the Gators might escape Jacksonville with a victory. When Florida’s offense and Georgia’s defense share the field, I think it’s safe to assume a stalemate for most of the game. Whether a Florida turnover or Georgia lapsing and getting lost in a blown coverage, I see this one coming down to one major swing of momentum. Fortunately for the Gators, Dan Mullen has the playbook to make the Bulldogs’ defense’s head spin and the likelihood of a UGA miscue is greater than a UF turnover. For that reason, I see Florida finally knocking off Georgia and later claiming the East. 34-28, Gators on top.

Brian Fox:

The Florida offense vs the Georgia defense. This should be fun. The strengths of the two teams will go directly against each other. While Florida’s offense is averaging 42 points a game, the Bulldogs’ defense might actually be performing better. Georgia will lean heavy on the run game and the Florida D-Line will have to be up to the task. In the end, I just think that UGA is too good along the lines of scrimmage (offensive and defensive lines), Georgia, 28-24.

David Soderquist:

I have to thank Jacquie Francuilli for having the exact same score prediction I did. Dan Mullen needs this victory. As a matter or fact, Dan Mullen has NO EXCUSES to lose this game. With Georgia’s bad quarterback play and key defensive starters out for Georgia, there’s no excuse. I think Florida tries to start off fast, but I don’t see Georgia not scoring any points either. I think Florida gives up a few yards in the running game. I see Florida playing more zone and loading the box as well. Florida gives up some plays on defense but Florida’s offense proves to be too much for a Georgia depleted defense and defensive line. Trask throws for another 300 yards. It’s do or die time for Dan Mullen if he loses this game the narrative on Dan getting it done in Jacksonville eventually changes. But I think he succeeds this year. Dan Mullen needs to win this game but he has to prove to me and the fans that he can. I want to pick the Bulldogs just based on the fact that Dan still has to prove it to me, but I also want to be modest with my prediction. Georgia beats Florida in rushing, but not passing and I also think Bennett commits a turnover or 2. The score could be flipped either way in this prediction based on how the game goes. But i think Florida has more experienced talent on both sides of the field to not give it away to a quarterback throwing 58% for 5 interceptions and barely 1000 yards. Florida wins 31-20.

Jake Hitt:

Here we go again, another battle for f UI irst place in the SEC East (and possibly a ticket to the ATL) on the line in Jacksonville. There is a key difference other than the COVID-19 of it all: Kyle Trask. It’ll be his 15th start with a much-improved rapport with his receivers as opposed to just his sixth start after rarely seeing the field in three years. That makes Florida dangerous against this Georgia defense. The only great offense it faced was Alabama and got torched. Florida’s got plenty of firepower but it’s not the Alabama Crimson Tide. However, Georgia suffered a huge blow to its defense with Richard LeCounte III’s motorcycle accident. Also, the Dawgs’lll be without defensive lineman Julian Rochester plus Jordan Davis might be a little banged up after the Kentucky game. That could cause more attention for linebacker Azeez Ojulari, who leads the SEC in sacks and TFLs. The man doesn’t have those numbers for no reason though. Florida showed improvement on defense against Missouri but the Bulldogs’ running game is a whole other thing. The absence of Zachary Carter at defensive in the first half could prove to be huge in stopping that running game. For me, Florida hasn’t shown its capability to beat Georgia yet. That makes it hard to pick against the Bulldogs although the margin for both teams is thin. If the Gators can pull it off, I’ll happily eat my crow with a side of fries. Georgia 28-24.

Michael Pfeffer:

I think Florida has a similar matchup advantage as what Alabama had against Georgia. Possibly even better since they will face a Bulldogs secondary that will be without it’s leader in Richard LeCounte. It will truly be good against good when it comes to the Florida offense versus the Georgia defense. However, I believe that Kyle Trask is just too good and Florida has too many weapons for the Dawgs to keep a leash on them. Combine that with a renewed energy on the defensive side of the ball and Florida can enter Saturday’s contest feeling very confident. In the end, I believe that the Gators will build on last week’s defensive performance and the offense will continue to hum. I’m flipping my preseason prediction. I like the Gators to win and to beat the +3.5 spread. Gators win 38 – 28.

Florida and Georgia are scheduled to kickoff at 3:30 PM from Everbank Field in Jacksonville. The game will be broadcast live on CBS.

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