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If there is one football game that every Gators fan circles on the calendar each year, it is the annual rivalry matchup against the Georgia Bulldogs. Long known as the World Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party, this game never fails to entertain the jort-wearing throngs of the two respective schools and has hosted some of the most memorable moments in college football history.
This year’s matchup has the potential to once again be a classic… or it could go very badly for the Orange and Blue. The Dawgs enter the game as the top-ranked team in the nation and have looked impressive so far during the 2021 campaign. The Gators arrive in Jacksonville unranked for the first time this season and have underwhelmed throughout their schedule.
The Gators Wire staff weighed in with their takes and predictions ahead of Saturday’s afternoon tangle in Jax. Here is a look at how we think things will turn out against one of the best Georgia teams Florida has ever faced.
Adam Dubbin - Managing Editor
For the record, I picked Florida to win this game in our preseason predictions and held firm on that call until the Kentucky loss. But since notching their second SEC defeat, the Gators have not at all impressed. After an empty shutout of Vanderbilt for homecoming coupled with a loss to a hobbled LSU team, Florida continues to demonstrate that it cannot put together a complete effort against anyone.
That is going to be a problem for Dan Mullen’s staff this coming Saturday against Georgia. UGA arrives in Jacksonville with maybe its best-ever roster, riding an undefeated wave to the top of both major polls. The Dawgs’ defense is ferocious and the offense has really found a groove. This is a tale of two very different teams coming into this weekend.
That said, the setting for this storied matchup is one that has all of the elements of a trap game for Georgia. As history has shown, SEC games — especially rivalry games — rarely follow the narrative of the numbers and favor fate over stats.
However, as much as it pains me to say this, the 2021 squad does not have the coaching staff and talent necessary to pull this one off, even with Lady Luck on their side. It won’t be a complete blowout, but I do not expect much to cheer about for the Gator Nation, although I do expect Florida to put some points on the board against UGA’s vaunted defense.
Georgia 49, Florida 27
Tyler Nettuno - Assistant Editor/Writer
I picked Georgia to win this game during the preseason only because I felt more confident in the Bulldogs’ talent, but I thought a Florida victory in this game was very possible. Now, it doesn’t look very possible.
The Bulldogs have one of the best college football defenses I’ve ever seen, and it’s hard to imagine Florida’s rushing game, which has slowed down a bit in recent games, will be able to find enough success in what will be its toughest challenge yet. The quarterback situation for Florida is unclear, and even if Dan Mullen does what he should and gives Anthony Richardson the start, that’s an incredibly tough spot to put a redshirt freshman in for the first start of his career.
Meanwhile, Georgia’s offense hasn’t been particularly stellar, but it is effective. Quarterback J.T. Daniels has battled injuries this year, but backup Stetson Bennett IV has stepped in without missing a beat. Meanwhile, the ground game led by Zamir White and James Cook averages nearly 200 yards a game, and after getting absolutely torched by one of the worst Power Five run games against LSU, this is a terrifying matchup for Todd Grantham’s defense.
Blowing decent teams out of the water isn’t exactly Georgia’s style, but even if the score is a bit deceiving, I expect the Bulldogs to control this game throughout in what will likely be a frustrating game for Florida. Get those 1980 jokes off while you still can, Gators fans.
Georgia 34, Florida 17
Pat Dooley - Staff Writer
Georgia is the best team in the country because it has a defense that is borderline ridiculous. Florida is the best offense that Georgia will have faced this season, so it will be interesting to see how this one plays out, but the Gators cannot turn the ball over (minus-7 in turnover ratio) to make this a game.
Georgia 35, Florida 14
David Rosenberg - Staff Writer
The Gators are a great rushing team, but Georgia’s defense held the SEC leader to seven yards on seven carries two weeks ago. That may be a reason we’ve seen Emory Jones opening up the passing game recently, but his performance against LSU left a lot to be desired.
Anthony Richardson wasn’t available for the Alabama game, but he looks like Florida’s best option after taking over for Jones against LSU. Using both guys to keep the defense guessing will be crucial, and could help open up the run game. If the Florida defense can play as it did against the Tide (except for the first quarter), then the Gators can make this one competitive.
Georgia is No. 1 for a reason, though, and should come out on top by two scores.
Georgia 38, Florida 24