It’s Halloween (and also Nick Saban’s birthday, or is that redundant?) and all the world is buzzing about tomorrow’s showdown by the St. John’s River. You’ve heard all about it from Holly Anderson (who quoted me; see if you can figure out which lines were mine), Senator Blutarsky (who is in the Gateway City by now, where we all, by rights, ought to be), C&F, and Doug Gillett (who may want to seek professional help regarding his Tim Tebow fixation), so now it’s time you heard from me as I bring you a little segment we like to call . . . Too Much Information.
- Georgia has never lost to Florida in a season in which the Red and Black scored 35 or more points against Louisiana State.
- This isn’t news to anyone, but it bears emphasizing that these are the two best offenses in the Southeastern Conference. Florida and Georgia rank first and second, respectively, in scoring offense, and both teams average a league-high 6.6 yards per offensive snap.
- At last, we may find in the loss to the Crimson Tide a silver lining for the men in silver britches: 2008 is the 49th season in school history in which the Bulldogs face both Alabama and Florida in the same autumn, and, although the Classic City Canines are just 24-23-1 against the Sunshine State Saurians in seasons in which the ‘Dawgs also cross paths with the Tide, the Red and Black have lost both to the squad from Tuscaloosa and to the rival from Gainesville in the same year just 15 times. In the 15 seasons in which Georgia lost to both S.E.C. opponents, the ‘Dawgs ended up with a winning record only four times and registered more than six victories just thrice. Currently, it should be noted, the Red and Black are 7-1.
- The key for the Georgia D is to stop the Gator ground game. Florida ranks second in the S.E.C. in rushing offense (196.0 yards per game) and stands atop the conference in rushing touchdowns (19) and yards per carry (5.3). The Bulldogs rank second in the league against the run in both rushing yards allowed per game (76.9) and rushing yards allowed per carry (2.8). However, the Red and Black have allowed eight rushing touchdowns, tied for fifth-most in the conference.
- Georgia’s September 20 outing against Arizona State made this the 14th season in Bulldog football history in which the Red and Black squared off both with a Pac-10 opponent and with the Gators in a single season. In the last 13 years in which Georgia faced a team from the West Coast B.C.S. league, the ‘Dawgs were 11-2 against Florida.
- The Georgia offense has scored more points in the second quarter than in any other period (89). The Georgia defense has allowed more points in the second quarter than in any other stanza (62) . . . exactly as many as the ‘Dawgs have surrendered in the first (17) and third (45) quarters combined, in fact. The Gators give up more points in each successive quarter than in the quarter before.
The Feel Good Stat of the Week: Last year, Georgia beat Florida by a 42-30 margin, making 2007 the seventh season in which the Bulldogs scored more than 41 points against the Gators. The six previous occasions on which the Classic City Canines notched at least 42 ticks on the scoreboard versus the Saurians came in 1904, 1920, 1942, 1968, 1971, and 1982, and, in the next series meeting between the two following each of those years, the Bulldogs were a combined 5-0-1 against the Orange and Blue. In more than 100 years, Georgia has never scored 42 or more points against Florida and failed to defeat the Gators the next time they faced one another.
The Bottom Line: I’m not going to lie to you; I’ve had a bad feeling about this one all week. I haven’t been worried about any particular thing, but I’ve had this ominous sinking feeling about the game for the last several days. That feeling has started to pass.
What has been evident to me this last week, most especially during my exchange with Year 2, is that last year’s game may have fanned the flames of enmity, but it also won back for the Red and Black some of the respect that had been lacking from Florida partisans. This rivalry is back on an even footing---Georgia and Florida are 2-2 against one another the last four years; if the ‘Dawgs win tomorrow, the series record from 1971 to 2008 will be snarled at 19-19---and the next decade’s worth of battles between Mark Richt’s Bulldogs and Urban Meyer’s Gators are going to be epic struggles of national consequence, after the fashion of the Florida State-Miami showdowns of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s.
The Bulldogs are banged up, but they are coming together, and the most positive sign for the Red and Black may be found in Year 2’s proclamation in our aforementioned debate:
Meyer now has a reason to hate Georgia like Spurrier did. Whether he can parlay that into an amazing streak of success is anyone's guess, but anecdotal reports from people who say they know players indicate that he's not just been his normal intense self at practice this week. He's angry, and that could make all the difference.
Urban Meyer is angry? He seemed pretty angry last year, too; that didn’t seem to keep his team from giving up 42 points. If he’s still angry a year later---if Urban Meyer still thinks it was a big deal---then this pregame prediction could be penned by Euripides: "Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad." Urban Meyer has made it clear that he’s ready to bark. I believe the Bulldogs, however, are ready to bite.
My Prediction: Georgia 45, Florida 38.