What is there to say? A Florida team that spent two weeks hearing how terrible it was and how their coach was going to be fired before they got back to campus wanted it more than the team that spent the past two weeks daydreaming about their playoff chances. They wanted it more than we did. Any player or coach in the Bulldog locker room who tells you differently, who doesn't own that, is a damned liar.
It's not like we didn't see this happening. I just don't know that anyone saw it happening this forcefully. A Gator offense which said all along that they were going to come out and enforce their will on the Bulldog defense did exactly that, churning out an obscene 418 yards on the ground, the vast majority of it on straight-forward, straight-ahead plays on which the Gator offensive line blocked Bulldog defenders who weren't in position and didn't have the testicular mass to tackle Matt Jones.
Schematically by the way, this is what a lighter, faster defense looks like when it comes up against an offense that just lines up and hits them in the mouth. Florida didn't throw the ball but 6 times, and why would they? The Bulldogs got a taste of their own medicine, getting treated the same way that they treated Clemson behind Todd Gurley. By the end of this one the Georgia defense just didn't want any more. They're going to have to look themselves in the mirror this week and think about that some.
The Gators had two 100 yard rushers for the first time in God knows how long, much as Georgia had a pair of them in 1985 when freshmen Tim Worley and Keith Henderson led Georgia to a 24-3 triumph over a #1 ranked Gator squad. Sometimes bad things happen to good football teams, and they happen a lot in Jacksonville.
Would Todd Gurley have made a difference? Probably. It's not hard to imagine that during the second quarter when the Georgia offense couldn't get out of its own way (or the way of a swarming Gator defense) that Mike Bobo would have liked to hand it to the big man from Tarboro and see if he could break one off using sheer force of will. And he might have. He's done it before and God willing will do it again.
But it's far from a foregone conclusion to say that Georgia wins this game with Todd Gurley in the backfield. Unless Todd Gurley was going to play on the defensive line, which got manhandled left, right, and up the middle. Unless Todd Gurley was going to remind everyone that there was no way Florida kicks that first half field goal into a swirling wind down by 7 and desperate to get something going.
I had been worried that Georgia would commit sloppy turnovers and penalties, roughing the passer and late hit penalties, the kind that you get in a street fight of a game where everyone is digging deep and grasping for their last reserves of strength. In the end, we didn't even have enough fight to commit more than a few distracted mental errors (the once ubiquitous John Theus false start, a couple of offsides penalties, the infractions of those who, in internet parlance, just can't even).
Those who've been dying to see Hutson Mason do his Cory Phillips impression got it, as he was a stat-pretty 26 of 41 for 319 yards. A lot of people have wondered if Hutson Mason could throw for 200 yards in a game. Let me make something clear: if Hutson Mason throws for more than 200 yards this season it's probably a bad thing. You don't want that. I've seen Eric Zeier and the aforementioned Phillips play that tune in enough 41-28 losses to know it by heart.
You have to give copious credit to Will Muschamp and his Florida team, which had every reason to suffer from an utter crisis of confidence. Everyone in America spent two weeks making fun of them. And they responded. It was like watching a greasy ball-capped trucker in a tank top sit down to play Mozart on the piano then get up and chunk the baby grand out the window. No one was more surprised apparently than the Bulldogs.
The 'Dawgs now head to Lexington to face a resurgent Kentucky squad in one of those early kickoffs where thankfully a national television audience won't get to enjoy it. The SEC East is theoretically still Georgia's to lose, but if they lose to Auburn in Gurley's return then there's a decent chance we see these Florida Gators in Atlanta representing the East. A mediocre South Carolina squad and a terrible Vanderbilt are all that separate the Gators from winning out in the SEC. That would be one of the more miserable endings to a season that I didn't have high hopes for at the outset, but which I foolishly let myself believe might be different.
Then, as it did for so many years, Jacksonville happened.