No. 1 Georgia and Florida will meet for either the 99th or 100th edition of the Cocktail Party on Saturday (3:30 p.m., CBS). (Yes, the rivalry is so heated the institutions can’t even agree on how many times they’ve played.)

The teams enter Jacksonville on completely different trajectories.

Georgia is on the precipice of winning the SEC East for the 4th time in the past 5 seasons and are prohibitive favorites nationally to capture the program’s first national championship since native Georgian son Jimmy Carter was president.

Florida on the other hand, is 4-3, unranked, and contemplating serious, existential questions about the future of the program under Dan Mullen.

Florida walloped Georgia 44-28 last season on their way to the SEC East division crown and a date with Alabama in the SEC Championship Game.

What a difference a year makes.

Should Georgia win and perhaps cover a huge, at least by Cocktail Party standards, 14.5 points? Probably. There’s nothing Florida has done since playing an instant classic against then No. 1 Alabama in September to suggest the Gators can win.

Still, strange things sometimes happen on the banks of the St. John’s River, and with no chance at a return chance to Atlanta and likely relegated to a mid-tier bowl, Florida will treat the opportunity to spoil archrival Georgia’s perfect season like their own personal Super Bowl.

Here are 3 matchups SDS believes will define the Georgia-Florida game.

Will 4 quarterbacks play? Stetson Bennett or JT Daniels? Emory Jones or Anthony Richardson?

Do both coaches channel their inner Steve Spurrier (y’all know why Kirby loves that visor) and play 2 quarterbacks? If you have 2 quarterbacks, do you have any quarterbacks? These are the serious questions of our times, made to be contemplated by serious individuals.

There are college football fundamental truths that apply with vigor in the Florida-Georgia game. First, the team that runs the ball more effectively almost always wins (more on this later). Florida’s win last season was the first time since 2006 that the team that won the rushing battle lost the game. Second — and this trend is far more recent, at least by Georgia-Florida game standards: The team with the better quarterback play wins. Think Kyle Trask’s performance for the ages last season, Jake Fromm’s 3rd-down dominance in 2019, Fromm over Feleipe in 2018.

Will fundamental truth No. 2 hold this year?

Perhaps. I do think that to win, Georgia’s quarterbacks simply need to manage the game. I don’t think they’ll need to generate consistent explosives in the passing game or make mind-boggling plays. Moving the sticks consistently, making good red-zone decisions, and protecting the football should do.

By the way, let’s be clear: Georgia can win the game with a game manager under center. That doesn’t mean Bennett or Daniels are “only” game managers. On the contrary, both are terrific. Both are capable of making winning plays.

Bennett was terrible in this game a season ago. He started hot, got hurt, and to his credit, tried to gut it out. That didn’t go well. He finished 5-for-16 for 78 yards, a touchdown and an interception and was lifted for D’Wan Mathis. Bennett is a lifelong Georgia fan and a prideful young man who has worked hard for every opportunity he’s been given. He’s grown a great deal this season, especially reading defenses and finding secondary receivers.

I imagine he took last year’s defeat personally and will be ready for Saturday.

Kirby Smart said this week he may play both quarterbacks, as Daniels is as healthy as he’s been since the season opener against Clemson.

Daniels has the better arm and is a bit more accurate. Bennett has the better wheels. Either is capable of winning this game.

While Georgia can rely on a “game manager” to win Saturday, Florida cannot.

They’ll need a dominant, memorable performance from whichever quarterback Dan Mullen places under center.

Here’s the thing about the Emory Jones and Anthony Richardson debate: If you haven’t watched Florida much this season, or only caught the Alabama game, then from 10,000 feet, Jones and Richardson look similar:

Emory Jones: 67.6%, 10 TDs, 9 INTs, 495 yards rushing, 2 Rush TDs
Anthony Richardson: 56.8% %, 5 TDs, 3 INTs, 348 yards rushing, 3 rush TDs.

But if you watch the film and look closer, there’s really no reason Anthony Richardson shouldn’t be Florida’s starting quarterback. He averages 12 yards per rush. He averages nearly 3 yards more per pass attempt than Emory Jones. And he appears to be the type of transcendent player that can lift a team beyond its talent level.

Jones is a very capable quarterback, one who has shown in his better games this season (Alabama and Tennessee) that he can play well at the Power 5 level. He’s just not a potentially transcendent talent like Richardson.

To win Saturday, the Gators need that kind of performance. They must eliminate turnovers (Florida leads the SEC with 12 interceptions thrown) and they must extend plays with their legs at the quarterback position. From any objective standpoint, Richardson seems the most capable of doing these things.

What will Mullen do? Mullen was coy this week, and suggested both will play. That seems likely, though which quarterback starts will be intriguing.

Mullen has traveled this path before. At Mississippi State in 2013, he had the very capable Tyler Russell, who had put in his time in Starkville and shown flashes of being a terrific college quarterback. He also had Dak Prescott, who was younger but who, in spot play, was clearly the victor in the eye test. Mullen played two until Prescott’s on-field performance made it impossible for Mullen to stick with Russell.

Will we see that again? Possibly, and maybe as early as Saturday.

Florida’s prolific run game vs. Georgia’s dominant front seven

The Gators’ biggest hope entering Jacksonville?

They will be the best offense that Georgia has faced — and by some distance. The Gators rank 5th nationally in SP+ offensive efficiency, 3rd nationally and No. 1 in the SEC in yards gained per play (7.1), No. 1 nationally in yards per rush attempt (6.3), and 9th nationally and 2nd in the SEC (Ole Miss) in total offense.

For perspective, here are the best teams Georgia has played to date in those categories: SP+ (Arkansas, 36th); yards per play (Arkansas, 25th), yards per rush (Kentucky, 25th), and total offense (Arkansas, 18th).

How much hope this gives Florida remains to be seen. Georgia, after all, shut out Arkansas and held them to 162 total yards and well, Arkansas has a solid offense.

But Florida is multiple in the run game in a way no Georgia opponent to date has been. The Gators use a number of concepts very well — outside zone, zone read, zone power, traditional power, pulling guards, isolation — to stress defenses in a number of ways. Here, a simple isolation concept overwhelms Alabama:

Here, Florida exploits stacked numbers on the weak side to allow Anthony Richardson to eat in a zone read:

Here, Dameon Pierce waits for blocks in a zone power concept:

Mullen is a master at scheming and he’ll use motions and personnel groupings to do his best to keep Georgia guessing. The problem for Florida, of course, is that the Dawgs, who rank 2nd nationally in yards allowed per rush (2.1), 2nd in rushing defense, and No. 1 in SP+ defense, have Jordan Davis.

Davis, to borrow from Cole Cubelic, “isn’t fair.” If Florida double-teams Davis, and they’ll almost have to, that opens things up for another defender to fit a gap, or, it allows Dan Lanning and Kirby Smart to permanently spy Richardson or Jones with the open guy. If Florida triple-teams Davis, as Clemson did at times, well, you understand how the math works.

And it’s that math Florida must overcome to win this football game.

Which Florida run defense shows up?

Will it be the run defense that held Alabama to a 5 year low 3 yards per carry and 97 yards?

Or will it be the one that couldn’t stop the same counter-trey play against LSU and allowed Ty Davis-Price to run for more yards against a Gators defense than any running back since Herschel Walker?

By the way, Florida’s issues against the counter aren’t new. Oklahoma ran 20-(!!) counters in the Cotton Bowl. The result was a Cotton Bowl record 435 yards rushing against the Gators. It even worked in that game when Florida brought run blitzes:

Georgia doesn’t use counter concepts as much, preferring pitch runs (30% of their run concepts), zone reads and traditional power. That should change Saturday, especially because it’s odd the Dawgs don’t do it more. Zamir White is the 5th-best running back in the sport from a success rate standpoint in counter concepts, per Stats Solutions.

Why not work that in more Saturday and make Florida stop it?

This is especially vital because Florida allows almost 7 yards per carry in counter concepts but only 3.9 per rush overall. Florida is especially good against the pitch — Georgia’s favorite run play — at 2.5 yards per rush.

This isn’t a dominant Georgia run game, as the Dawgs rank just 36th nationally and in the middle of the SEC in yards per rush attempt. But LSU ranked 127th in rushing offense 2 weeks ago when they faced Florida and left the game with Ty Davis-Price looking like Herschel Walker.

Which Florida run defense shows up will dictate whether Florida has any chance.