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Georgia 34, Florida 7: Dawgs’ Defense Dominates Hapless Gator Offense

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Syndication: Gainesville Sun Bob Self/Florida Times-Union / USA TODAY NETWORK

For most of the first half this afternoon in Jacksonville it looked as if Florida belonged on the field with the Georgia Bulldogs.

Right up until it didn’t.

The Bulldogs rode an explosion of 21 points in just over two minutes to a solid halftime lead and then smothered any Gator momentum in the second half to skin the Florida Gators 34-7.

A Bulldog defense that was missing half its starters last season and surrendered a 14-0 lead cane into this rematch with a chip on its shoulder. Florida actually held a slim 355 to 354 yards advantage in offensive yardage in this game. But 144 of those came in the fourth quarter, when most of the Florida fans were no longer around to see them. Anthony Richardson, the darling of Florida fans coming into the game, lived on the edge of disaster for much of the first half.

Until he drove right over that edge.

I don’t believe there are more than 5 teams in the SEC who would be favored over the Bulldogs right now if Georgia didn’t have a single offensive possession and had to score solely on defense and special teams.

Offensively, things are messier at the moment. Even with JT Daniels being physically healthy Kirby Smart elected once again to go with Stetson Bennett. The stated reason was that he’s still the guy who’s gotten the practice reps, which makes sense.

I’m thrilled that Bennett (who grew up merely an hour and a half away from Jacksonville in Pierce County) got his redemption against the Gators. And 10 of 19 passing for 161 yards isn’t the worst stat line ever. But Bennett’s two interceptions on the day were ugly, and they weren’t the only ugly balls on the day: I’m not saying JT Daniels can’t throw a clunker, too. But with another week of reps it feels like the risk/reward for Daniels may move squarely toward the reward column.

The rewards of giving the ball to Zamir White however remain obvious. Zeus churned our 105 yards on a mere 14 carries, including a 42 yard touchdown scamper to put a bow on the win.

This was likely the last game Georgia will play this season in which the Red and Black will be favored by fewer than 15 points. Tennessee will bring an offensive challenge and Georgia Tech has shown occasional signs of life this season. But there’s every reason to believe that Georgia may not be seriously challenged until they arrive in Atlanta in December. The goal over the next four weeks should be to stay healthy and hungry on defense and to tune up an offense that will need to score points against the Alabamas, Ohio States, and Oklahomas of the world.

That’s a task for tomorrow, however. Tonight was about pummeling what is for many of us Georgia’s most hated rival, kicking the villainous Gators while they were down. No tears are sweeter than Gator tears, and they’re flowing like the St. John’s River tonight. Until later...

Go ‘Dawgs!!!