No. 8 Georgia takes control of SEC East with win over No. 6 Florida

Georgia is in the driver’s seat in the SEC East. Again.

The No. 8 Bulldogs beat No. 6 Florida for the third straight season on Saturday. At 24-17, this game wasn’t as convincing as the previous two games, but a win is a win in a rivalry like this.

Lawrence Cager put the game out of reach for Florida when he scored a 52-yard touchdown with just over 10 minutes remaining. Cager was wide open thanks to a huge coverage bust by the Florida secondary, a unit that didn’t have its best day in Jacksonville.

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Florida pulled to within a touchdown with fewer than four minutes left and a self-inflicted delay of game made Georgia get 15 yards for a first down on its ensuing possession. And, like Georgia had done all day, the Bulldogs converted on third down when Jake Fromm beat the blitz and found Eli Wolf for a 22-yard completion.

Georgia is now 7-1 overall and 4-1 in the SEC while Florida drops to 7-2 overall and 4-2 in the conference. Thanks to the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Gators, the Bulldogs will have what’s effectively a two-game lead on everyone else in the SEC East with a win over Missouri on Nov. 9.

The Bulldogs are also still in prime position for a College Football Playoff spot. While Georgia won’t be in the top four when the first set of rankings is released on Tuesday, the Bulldogs control their own playoff destiny. An undefeated November and a win in the SEC championship game will certainly put Georgia in the playoff for the second time in three seasons.

Bulldogs were 12-of-18 on third down

Georgia’s offense got the best of Florida’s defense on third down. A lot. The Bulldogs were 12-of-18 on third down, including one catch by Cager that should have been ruled incomplete. That second-quarter catch led to Georgia’s first touchdown of the game and a 10-0 lead.

Florida’s offense, meanwhile, was impotent on third down. The Gators were 2-of-9 on their conversions.

Georgia QB Jake Fromm also had his best game in nearly a month. Fromm was 20-of-30 passing for 279 yards and two touchdowns. More importantly, he didn’t throw any interceptions. He threw three picks in Georgia’s stunning upset loss to South Carolina on Oct. 12.

Coincidentally, the third straight win by Georgia continues a pattern of alternating three-game win streaks by each team. Florida won three straight from 2008-10 before Georgia won three straight and the Gators won three straight in 2014, 2015 and 2016 before Georgia’s current streak. Maybe 2020 is Florida’s year.

What this means for Florida

Well, the Gators need Georgia to slip up multiple times because of the head-to-head tiebreaker. If Georgia loses to both Missouri and Auburn, and Florida wins out in the SEC, the Gators go to the SEC championship game. But asking for two losses is a lot. Especially considering Missouri’s losses to Vanderbilt and Kentucky.

A 10-2 season is still well within reach for the Gators, especially with games against Vandy, Mizzou and Florida State remaining. That could be good enough for a New Year’s Six bowl berth. But it also may not, depending on how the Pac-12 and Big Ten shake out.

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports

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