Not many are picking Georgia over Florida. I am, though


This isn’t exactly a revelation, given that I made the prediction nearly five months ago, but here, for late tuners-in, it is: I like Georgia over Florida. Believe it or not, I’m not alone.

The many men of Scouts Inc.Todd McShay, Steve Muench and Kevin Weidl – have declared on ESPN Insider (link requires registration) that the Bulldogs will beat the Gators 26-23. Their reasoning, conveniently enough, dovetails with what I’m now thinking. Back in May, I was thinking Georgia would simply be the better team. It hasn’t been to date, which doesn’t mean it can’t be Saturday.

From the Scouts Inc. preview:

Signs can’t always be trusted, especially in rivalry games. So don’t be surprised when Georgia turns in its most emotionally charged effort of the year. For 60 minutes, all the elite individual talent on Georgia’s defense will work together as a unit, and it will be enough to hand the Gators their first loss of the season.

I just watched Georgia barely beat one of the worst Kentucky teams in my memory. (And I’m a Kentucky grad, and I have a long memory.) I also caught a goodly portion of the Gators’ thrashing of South Carolina. If last Saturday is the measure, the Bulldogs don’t have a chance. But no two games, I’ve learned over my now-lengthy life, are alike. Just because the Gamecocks kept giving Florida the ball doesn’t mean Georgia will.

Florida scored 21 first-half points against South Carolina while gaining 29 yards. The Gators’ three touchdown drives spanned a total of 32 yards. The Gamecocks fumbled a punt and a kickoff return, and the game was gone. If Georgia does the same, the Bulldogs could well lose by 33 points, too. But what if they don’t do the same?

Florida is seventh nationally in total defense. Georgia is 47th. That’s a big spread, but not as big as this: Georgia is 18th in total offense to Florida’s 100th. What if the Bulldogs hold the ball — which won’t be easy; the Gators are ninth-best in turnover margin — and make Florida drive 70 yards to score? (For the record, Florida’s 44 points against South Carolina came on a day when the Gators managed 183 yards.) What if the Gators, whose 114th-ranked passing offense sits three spots below Georgia Tech’s, fall behind and have to throw?

There’s no question Georgia’s defense has underperformed. That doesn’t mean this unit is without talent. These are mostly the same defenders who enabled Georgia to finish fifth nationally in total defense last season. They’re capable of a big game in a big setting.

Yes, I’ve thought as much before about Georgia, often in a game involving Florida, and been wrong more times than right. But the dynamics of this installment have changed so quickly that the Bulldogs, who were the preseason pick to rule the SEC East, will arrive being given little chance to win by most observers, many Bulldog fans among them. That’s not the worst place to be. Coaches love it when they’ve got a good team that’s being utterly dismissed.

Has Florida been impressive? Absolutely. Have the Gators had the better season? They have by far. But LSU had a better 2011 season than Alabama — heck, LSU even beat Alabama in Tuscaloosa — and that mattered not one whit when the two met again in the BCS title game.

If Georgia can win Saturday, it will override the memory of the bitter loss at South Carolina and position itself to play again for the SEC championship. So far we’ve seen only snippets, but I’m convinced there’s a complete game in these Bulldogs. I’m encouraged to know someone else agrees..

Further reading: Why this is a big game for Georgia — but an even bigger one for Mark Richt.

By Mark Bradley

503 comments Add your comment

NC Dawg

October 23rd, 2012
4:15 pm

First! Go Dawgs!!

Bryan G.

October 23rd, 2012
4:17 pm

You, sir, are a masochist, Mr. Bradley.

Mark Bradley

October 23rd, 2012
4:18 pm

Not a masochist. Just a moron.

Kudos to NC Dawg.

Mikey Henderson

October 23rd, 2012
4:19 pm

This is setting up just like 2007.

Gamecocky

October 23rd, 2012
4:22 pm

Mark,bless yo’ heart,but you are used to bein’ wrong………

Abernish

October 23rd, 2012
4:23 pm

I’m guessing that 26 points is 4 TDs with two missed extra points. I hope you’re right, Mark.

Mark Bradley

October 23rd, 2012
4:24 pm

For the record, I haven’t been wrong about Georgia this season. Although given that the Bulldogs have won the six they were supposed to win and lost the one they weren’t, that’s not all that remarkable.

DIT

October 23rd, 2012
4:24 pm

Mark – I wish I could share those same feelings. For me it’s how can a team decide when to turn it on when they have not played well(defense) for the past 6 games? I sure hope I’m wrong and you’re right. I just see the Gators scoring early and often then cruising in the 2nd half. It might even be comical.
Prove me wrong!

George

October 23rd, 2012
4:24 pm

I don’t think the Dawgs can just flip on that switch and beat Florida. Florida is more sound and disciplined on Defense . They will make few errors on offense and just wait for the Dawgs to make the mistakes. The Dawgs do this in all the big games. Right ?

Mark Bradley

October 23rd, 2012
4:24 pm

I thought 26 points would be 13 safeties. But I’m odd like that

Woofy One

October 23rd, 2012
4:26 pm

DIT

October 23rd, 2012
4:28 pm

13 safeties – Good one!

Nugget

October 23rd, 2012
4:30 pm

Where’s Pat Dye when we need him! Georgia’s not MAN enough to beat Alabama uhhh Florida in Jacksonville!!

dj

October 23rd, 2012
4:30 pm

there has been no more important game over the past several years than this one. not for the reasons we’re all talking about either, not the sec race, bcs race, no, the chance to hang 2 (yes, think about that), 2 games in a row since the 80’s. until we can a least play .500 ball, consistently, against the gators, we will always be second tier SEC program.

Dum-Bass

October 23rd, 2012
4:31 pm

How about a “moronic masochist”?

Boise Dawg

October 23rd, 2012
4:32 pm

Mark… I love the optimism, but I can’t see Georgia winning with a score like 26 – 23 which would amount to an SEC shootout. I think our only shot is the fact that Florida’s offense isn’t quite elite. Assuming they can score 23 points on our defense, which isn’t difficult to imagine, I don’t see how we can outscore them. As you said our only shot is for the defense to step up big time and giving up 23 to Florida’s offense would not be stepping up big time.

Just like when we were down early in the South Carolina game, I knew the game was over because there was no way our offense would score 21+ points on South Carolina’s defense. Well Florida’s defense looks even better…. so count me in as someone that doesn’t believe Aaron Murray and our offensive line can get it done against an elite defense. I hope to heck they prove me wrong.

Music City Dawg

October 23rd, 2012
4:32 pm

I too believe the Dawgs are going to win and for much the same reason as Mark pointed out. And I think Shawn Williams has helped put a fire in the defense’s belly to play like these Dawgs should be playing. GATA!!!!

JPP

October 23rd, 2012
4:33 pm

Good column. As a Gator fan I don’ tknow what to make of this game. I think UGA definitely has the talent to win this game, even win it big. Florida is great on defense and special teams, but we haven’t HAD to score a bunch of points in a hurry. If Florida gets down by 14 -17 points, can it come back? I just don’t know. There are still 5 games left in the season and anythig can happen.

Dum-Bass

October 23rd, 2012
4:33 pm

OR even a “masochistic moron”?

Dawgball00

October 23rd, 2012
4:33 pm

I agree with Mark. We might out score the gators. If we hold on to the ball we have a shot. Let’s just go for two the rest of the season and be done with the knuckle ball PAT’s.

Clay

October 23rd, 2012
4:33 pm

I wish, but Not going to happen.

robodawg

October 23rd, 2012
4:35 pm

I agree, I think our unit has a complete game waiting in them. The one thing we can’t afford is meltdowns like the one in the first quarter in Columbia, or the one that let Tennessee back in the game at the end of the half. Or like South Carolina’s first half meltdown at Florida.

I think our defense shows up hitting hard for this one, and that makes it a different ball game.

GTSteve

October 23rd, 2012
4:38 pm

You might be on to something this time Mr Bradley

robodawg

October 23rd, 2012
4:39 pm

We can’t lose the big games forever. Dawgs are due. This team’s latent talent needs a coming out party, like the Florida game in ‘07.

sidslid

October 23rd, 2012
4:39 pm

The snipped about the strength and conditioning program and Florida’s second half success this season rings true. I see a 6-3 halftime score with Florida outscoring Georgia by 18 the second half.

Dum-Bass

October 23rd, 2012
4:41 pm

The Whether Forecast: The DAWGS will lose bigtime Sat. and there will be a fan mutiny. Bobby Petrino will be asked to finish the season for Richt. Dawgs fans don’t care about that Falcons stuff, as Atlanta is in another state as far as they are concerned. They will forgive Petrino for his “personal indiscretions” and point to Bill Clinton and what he did. After all he was from Arkansas too. After winning 2 or 3 games BP will then surprise everyone by marrying Wynonna Judd, who will divorce her now bodyguard-husband who just lost a leg in a motorcycle accident. Don’t know if BP is divorced or not as no one has said. If not, he will be shortly. That info per my neighbor, Clair Voyant who sees all and knows all. All will be well by the end of the year in DAWGDOM.

Swami Sez

October 23rd, 2012
4:42 pm

NC Dawg

October 23rd, 2012
4:43 pm

With a hurricane whipping winds around the stadium forecast for Saturday, I say forget PAT’s and go for 2 all day.

Swami Sez

October 23rd, 2012
4:43 pm

I see that Mr. Bradley has been into the Bark Madley Kool Aid….

merbertmoover

October 23rd, 2012
4:44 pm

What’s the point of being a college football fan without an unrealistic, overwhelming sense of optimism for your team, even when things aren’t looking good? This is what college football is all about….that’s why we love it…anything can happen

Here’s how it’s gonna shake down MB: Georgia is gonna come into this game uber-motivated and beat the crap out of Florida, ruining their #2 BCS ranking and re-igniting this great rivalry…then Georgia will win out and squeak into the SECCG and somehow, by the grace of God, beat Nick Saban and his unholy army…then that victory will propel UGA into the NC game and we will somehow beat whoever it is we are pitted against, winning the NC for the first time in over 30 years…

Then, following this emotional high, CMR will resign in comfort and we will get Kirby Smart to take over in late January. It will be a smooth transition….Richt bashers will be happy bc we have a new coach with some fire….Richt defenders will be happy bc the guy we all love and respect won the crystal ball……

Too optimistic Mr. Bradley?

Swami Sez

October 23rd, 2012
4:44 pm

I see that Mark has been into the Kool Aid….

Brokebackvol

October 23rd, 2012
4:44 pm

Bradley, c’mon….UGA is just as “snake-bit” with the Gators as the VOLS. It might be close, but UF will win this weekend.

Meanwhile, FOOLEY and the VOLS will get crunched in Columbia (looking for my paperbag to wear until the season is over.)

dean

October 23rd, 2012
4:47 pm

They’ll probably save their complete game for the bees.

only thing due are bills and taxes

October 23rd, 2012
4:47 pm

“georgia is due”

Due for what? Sure, this sets up like ‘07…but…

Aaron murry is no matt stafford.
Gurley and Marshall are no Knowshown
We don’t have AJ or MoMass

As far as being “due…”
The Cubs are Due to win the World Series….any day now.

HBGDawg

October 23rd, 2012
4:47 pm

You are out of your friggin’ mind. I hope you aren’t, but you are.

Mark Bradley

October 23rd, 2012
4:48 pm

If we’re making comparisons to 2007: I’m not sure this Florida team has as good a quarterback as Tim Tebow, either.

Mark Bradley

October 23rd, 2012
4:49 pm

In other news, the Marlins just fired Ozzie Guillen.

CM

October 23rd, 2012
4:50 pm

The bulldogs are not being overlooked. They are just not being regarded as the unbeatable fantastic team sportswriters have hyped them to be.

dean

October 23rd, 2012
4:50 pm

You reckon Ozzie is cussing out the owner on his way out the door?

EDawg71

October 23rd, 2012
4:52 pm

Monopoly with Luis Suarez

October 23rd, 2012
4:54 pm

I think we will play hard til about mid-way through the 3rd quarter and then UF will pull away. Gators win by 14-17 points and some of my fellow UGA fans will be dumb enough to claim it as a moral victory.

Douglas

October 23rd, 2012
4:55 pm

The Dogs will get killed. The defense may not be playing up to its potential but the offensives stats has everyone fooled about BooBoo. Against USC, UGA should have brought in 2 TE’s with a fullback to block. Instead, idiot BooBoo was convinced his offensive linemen could block USC instead of bringing in help — shows he doesn’t know how to coach. He will do the same against UF. One thing this idiot has not learned is that to win in the SEC you have to be able to run. And special teams? I can’t believe we have all of these skilled players that can return punts for long yardage and/or TD’s and we place someone back there who all they can do is fair- catch the ball.

Jeff

October 23rd, 2012
4:58 pm

Florida plays smart, tough football; Georgia hasn’t since Erk Russell

Dawgdad (The Original)

October 23rd, 2012
4:58 pm

The Marlins and Mark make mistakes often. This seals the deal, I’m afraid. If Bradley is saying UGA wins, we don’t have a chance. I was getting ready to predict an upset, that our Defense would play like an Erk Russell defense, instead of Grantham D, and our Special Teams would actually contribute to the victory, instead of hamper it, but Bradley just put the Ki-bosh on the whole thing.

Bama in Atlanta

October 23rd, 2012
4:59 pm

Mark, if UGA can muster more than a 20 point lead at halftime then I agree with you. One of the liabilities thus far (including past seasons) has been the lack of halftime adjustments. The coaching staff needs to learn and adjust after every series of downs but have seemed either unable or unwilling to do so……and I’m not sure which is worse.

Rodster

October 23rd, 2012
5:00 pm

Florida by 3 TD’s.

Dawg Fans are Terrible

October 23rd, 2012
5:03 pm

I’ve been a UGA fan for three years after coming from one of the more respected ACC teams and I’ve never seen a bunch of jerk non-believers in my life. You guys seriously have no faith in your team. No wonder the players don’t read half of the posts. Nothing but a bunch of 50 year old men whining and complaining about the mistakes of 19 year olds and their coaches. Get a life.

Great article Mark. For your sake I hope you’re right. I wouldn’t want to give these nay-sayers more reason to complain.

Russ

October 23rd, 2012
5:04 pm

Wow, good for you in sticking to your guns. Man I hope you are right.

George Stein

October 23rd, 2012
5:05 pm

Please. Everyone knows UGA saves their best game for Tech.

In all seriousness, I think UGA wins this game. The series has begun to turn recently. Georgia has captured two of the last five, which may not sound great, but compared to the 17 years before then, it’s not too bad.

joe jenkins

October 23rd, 2012
5:08 pm

Please dawgs…do the unthinkable and pull the big upset. please i cant handle losing to the swamp lizards….i absolutley hate the gators……I hope gurshall has a big day like worley and henderson did back in 85