Georgia football: 5 reasons why the Bulldogs will win the Cocktail Party
It’s No. 7 Georgia against No. 9 Florida, which is darned good all on its own. Throw in the neutral-site venue in Jacksonville and a week of fun and madness, and it’s about as perfect as a college football weekend can be, weather permitting, of course.
This game is always fun, but it’s even more fun when both teams are really good. That’s what we’ve got Saturday (3:30 p.m.; TV: CBS) with two teams at 6-1 and 4-1 in the league, tied atop the SEC East with Kentucky. The winner has the fast track to the SEC title game.
Who has the edge? Here are five reasons why the Bulldogs will beat the Gators:
1. Because the Bulldogs will run for at least 190 yards
Florida’s run defense has been average at best all year, ranking No. 73 (out of 129 schools) in the NCAA stats. The Gators give up 163.1 yards per game, and in their one loss — to a then-unranked Kentucky team in Week 2 — they gave up a wh0pping 303 yards rushing. Georgia’s running game is capable of gashing the Gators, too. Maybe not to the tune of three bills, but figure on at least 190 and probably more. I’m seeing Elijah Holyfield having a big day and D’Andre Swift breaking a play or two.
2. Because Jake Fromm will make at least 5 third-down completions
Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm was embarrassed by his performance in the loss to LSU, and I have a good feeling he will bounce back nicely against the Gators, especially after a bye week to clear his head a bit. Prior to LSU, where he was just 16-for-34 passing and had 2 interceptions, he was completing passes at a 73 percent clip and was on pace to threaten school records in both completion percentage and quarterback ranking. I’m seeing Fromm having a big day against the Gators, with a lot of timely throws.
3. Because Deandre Baker will trick Feleipe Franks into one pick
One of the early trademarks of Georgia’s season was forcing an early turnover for a score to grab a quick lead. They did it in consecutive weekends in September against South Carolina, Middle Tennessee and Missouri. It’s time for some more of that. Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks has been better under first-year coach Dan Mullen, but he’s still prone to forcing things into tight windows now and then. Look for Deandre Baker, one of the best cornerbacks in the country, to bait him into a bad throw. At least once.
4. Because Georgia will break a huge play on special teams
I’ve got a feeling that Mecole Hardman just might have a huge day on Saturday. He’s always a threat in the passing game for the Dawgs, but he’s really dangerous in special teams, both on kickoffs and punts. He rarely gets a chance, and I’ll be curious to see if Florida even risks punting to him and allowing him a return. He’s that dangerous, and that much of a threat. He could flip the field a time or two.
5. Because Georgia is, quite simply, the better team
The oddsmakers favor the Dawgs and, quite frankly, so does the eye test in my book. Sure, it’s easy to lean on the fact that Florida beat LSU and then LSU beat Georgia, but I think home-field advantage had a lot to do with that. There is no home-field advantage in Jacksonville, and I think Georgia has the edge in more position groups. I’ve got the Bulldogs winning 31-21.