The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party is set to get underway from Jacksonville as the Florida Gators are set to take on No. 1 Georgia. The back to back defending national champions haven’t suffered a loss since the 2020 season, but will be without Heisman Trophy candidate, tight end Brock Bowers.
The following are our staff’s predictions for Florida vs Georgia:
Carson Euverard – Billy Napier and Graham Mertz are riding high after a statement victory over USC, and will look to carry that momentum into Jacksonville. Mertz showed he’s capable of pushing the ball down the field and adds another wrinkle to Napier’s offense.
Georgia has the sixth-ranked total defense, allowing only 4.39 yards per play. The Gators’ run blocking hasn’t been strong this year and the Bulldogs’ elite front seven might give Trevor Etienne and Montrell Johnson Jr. issues.
Georgia’s first-year quarterback, Carson Beck, will be without his best playmaker Brock Bowers. Austin Armstrong will need to dial up pressure to make Beck uncomfortable in the pocket. This game won’t be a blowout but I think the UGA defense gets some late stops. Georgia, 28-24.
Alyssa Britton-Harr – The Florida-Georgia rivalry runs deep, and with the Gators confidence booster after their victory against South Carolina, I believe they are ready for a fight. Graham Mertz and Coach Napier expressed in their press conferences this week how they are blessed to have this opportunity to play against teams like Georgia, and that it puts the team at good use to see what they can do together. The Bulldogs have had a lot of success within their football team the past two seasons, however Florida has also played some of its best football this season with pivotal wins against Tennessee and South Carolina. Despite Georgia’s prominent winning record, the matchup between Carson Beck and Mertz is something I believe many fans will be surprised by. UF does have a young team, but within the SEC offensively and defensively they are showing out amongst other teams. The Gators I believe will come out strong, but with the solid group Georgia has had I think they will still come out on top. I’m going Georgia, 40-24.
Hugh Green – Both Florida and Georgia will be well-rested coming into this storied rivalry. The Gators are coming off a very encouraging victory on the road against South Carolina two weeks ago. Graham Mertz and Ricky Pearsall led the way as Mertz threw for a career-best 423 yards and added three touchdowns. The last was to Pearsall, who had 10 receptions for 166 yards. The two of them will need to replicate this performance if they want to pull off a huge upset in Jacksonville.
The reigning back-to-back national champion Bulldogs have gone unbeaten so far this year, but some experts believe they are not on the same level they have been the past two seasons. Georgia’s defense has been one of the strong points of the team though, as they have not given up more than 21 points in a game this season.
Georgia’s front seven will be too much for the Gator running attack, which will make Florida one-dimensional. Because of this, the Bulldogs will have the upper hand, but not by much. Georgia, 30-24.
Regan Roberts – With both teams coming off of their bye week, they will look to finish their respective season’s strong. The next 4 of Georgia’s opponents will be a test for them as Brock Bowers status is still uncertain and they face three top-25 ranked teams in Mizzou, Ole Miss, and Tennessee. Saturday’s game will be the first in three years that Bowers will not play for the Bulldogs. This loss will have a huge impact on the offense, as the tight end has been key for them all year.
Florida is coming off a strong ending performance in South Carolina. Mertz threw for a career-high 423 yards with three touchdowns to give the Gators the edge late in the 4th quarter. If they can keep the same offensive momentum, the Bulldogs might be on upset watch. This game will be a close one for a while, but in the end the Bulldogs will pull it out. Their defense will be too much to handle for Mertz and the rest of the Gators offense. Georgia, 21-17.
Brian Fox – Can Florida build off the way the South Carolina game ended? Can the Gators find room in the run game against a formidable defensive front seven? How much will Brock Bowers’ injury affect the UGA offense?
Unfortunately, we are about to learn just how well Kirby Smart has recruited over the last half dozen years. TE Oscar Delp will be tasked to fill in for Bowers for the near future and he was only the No. 1 TE in the 2022 class.
Florida is currently a 14.5-point underdog, but started out as a three touchdown dog. I can see the Gators keeping it close through the first half, but the talent on the other sideline will be too much to overcome. Georgia, 38-17.
Florida and Georgia will kickoff at 3:30 PM from TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville. The game will be broadcast live on CBS.