Georgia vs. Florida: 5 reasons why UGA beats UF

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It’s No. 1 Georgia (7-0) versus Florida (4-3) this Saturday in Jacksonville. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. and the matchup will be televised on CBS.

Both teams are coming off of a bye week. UGA’s last contest was a 30-13 win over No. 11 Kentucky and Florida’s, a 49-42 loss to LSU.

This is the first time since 2017 that the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party isn’t a top-10 matchup.

Florida still has bragging rights after a 44-28 win in last year’s matchup, and the top-ranked Bulldogs look to grab the title back in 2021.

Here’s why Georgia walks away with a win on Saturday night.

Smart vs. Mullen

Nov 2, 2019; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Georgia Bulldogs head coach Kirby Smart (left) and Florida Gators head coach Dan Mullen greet prior to a game at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

There is mutual respect between Georgia’s Kirby Smart and Florida’s Dan Mullen.

That said, Smart has had the upper hand in head-to-head matchups.

Florida’s 44-28 win over the Bulldogs last season marked the first loss for Smart, who holds a 3-1 record against Mullen as head coaches.

The former Gator offensive coordinator and Mississippi State head coach has averaged just 14.3 points per game and Smart has held him to 17 points or fewer nine times in the total matchups.

Emory Jones or Anthony Richardson?

Florida Gators quarterback Emory Jones (5) and Florida Gators quarterback Anthony Richardson (15) take a snapshot after the Florida Gators defeated the Tennessee Volunteers 38-14 Saturday September 25, 2021 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL.

Both teams may play multiple quarterbacks on Saturday.

Georgia’s week-one starter J.T. Daniels is reportedly healthy and practicing, which will force Smart and staff to decide whether to keep Stetson Bennett at the helm, or, hand back the reins to Daniels. Both UGA signal-callers have been nearly perfect on the field this year.

On the other side, it’s a different story entirely.

UF quarterback Emory Jones, the senior and day-one starter, and redshirt freshman Anthony Richardson have combined for the most interceptions in college football this season (12).

Except the time Richardson missed snaps due to injury, we’ve seen both quarterbacks in each game for the Gators.

With both healthy and coming off a bye, it will be interesting to see who Mullen starts and how the struggling passers play against Georgia.

Defense ain’t a hobby

Sep 4, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Georgia Bulldogs defensive lineman Devonte Wyatt (95) and Georgia Bulldogs defensive lineman Jalen Carter (88) celebrate after a play against the Clemson Tigers at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Griffin Zetterberg-USA TODAY Sports

This Georgia defense may be one of the best units we’ve ever seen.

The Bulldogs are giving up 6.6 yards per game (1st), 3.57 yards per play (1st) and 208 total yards per game (1st). And trust me, the stats that show UGA’s dominance on that side of the ball don’t stop there.

Florida does enter the matchup ranked 9th in total offense, averaging 501 yards per game. Where the Gators suffer is turnover margin, where Florida maintains a -7 differential, compared to Georgia at +3.

UGA stars return

Jan 1, 2021; Atlanta, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs wide receiver Arian Smith (11) reacts after a catch past Cincinnati Bearcats cornerback Arquon Bush (9) in the second quarter of the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Georgia will be getting back multiple key players that have missed time with injuries.

Starting corner Ameer Speed, starting safety and interception leader Chris Smith and slot receiver Arian Smith, the fastest player on the Bulldogs’ roster, are expected to be back versus the Gators, along with previously mentioned Daniels at quarterback.

44-28

Georgia head coach Kirby Smart pauses during timeout against Florida during the second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

No matter how much Smart harps on how this year’s matchup is different, 2020’s 44-28 loss has to stick in the Bulldogs’ minds.

In a rivalry like this, guys never forget the bad taste of a loss like that. Add the impact of recruiting impact and SEC East pride to the mix, and you can fully expect UGA to be ready for a shot at redemption on Saturday.

Get ready for game day! UGA-UF Hall of Famer Aaron Murray joins the podcast this week to talk Georgia versus Florida, the Bulldogs’ quarterback situation and College Football Playoff projections. Listen to “UGA Football Live with J.C. Shelton” here:

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