The game that every college football fan is paying attention to during Week 9 will take place when both Georgia and Florida travel to EverBank Field for what is formally known as the "World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party."
This is a battle between two SEC programs that are ranked in the Top 10 of the BCS rankings, but most importantly, the winner pretty much secures a trip to the SEC Championship Game. Usually, matchups this early in the year don't have so much riding on the line, but this is a make-or-break game for both teams.
And while it seems like the contest should be highly competitive, many aren't even giving the Bulldogs a chance. With Georgia getting beaten down by South Carolina earlier in the year and barely getting by Kentucky last week, a lot of critics have given up on the 6-1 ballclub.
But as we inch closer to one of the games of the week, here is why the Bulldogs will keep this thing closer than you probably expect.
Georgia Is the Most Balanced Offense that Florida Has Faced
This isn't Kentucky, Vanderbilt or Bowling Green that this Gators defense will be facing this weekend. Georgia actually has an offense that is more than capable of scoring points in a hurry. In fact, the 486 total yards that the Bulldogs average a game isn't just second-best in the SEC, but is good for 18th in the entire country.
Aaron Murray is by far the best quarterback that this defense will face so far this season as the junior is completing 65 percent of his passes and is tied for the most touchdown passes in the SEC with 16. And while he is completing 68 percent of his passes in the red zone, he is also coming off arguably the best game of his career last week, throwing for four touchdowns in the victory over Kentucky.
The combination of true freshmen Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley also creates one of best running back tandems in the country as they are both averaging over six yards a touch and have combined for over 1,000 yards and 14 touchdowns on the ground. And at wide receiver, Malcolm Mitchell is finally getting his feet under him after playing cornerback as he had a 100-yard performance last week.
This Bulldogs offense couldn't get going in the blowout loss to South Carolina a couple of weeks ago, but it is no fluke that this unit is averaging close to 40 points per contest. Georgia has explosive offensive players that can give any defense in the country fits.
That Florida defense will face its biggest test yet this Saturday.
Florida Isn't as Polished as It Could Be
Has Florida played well? Yes. Have the Gators proven the most out of any other team through the first eight games? Absolutely. Have they shown that they have what it takes to be an SEC and national championship contender? Sure.
But this Florida team isn't as polished as it could be at this point in the season.
One of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to football is teams that hurt themselves with careless mistakes. Florida currently ranks 13th in the SEC, averaging about eight penalties a game and 66 penalty yards. This team has had two games with double-digit penalties and three others with at least seven. That simply has to be cut down if this team expects to win this conference.
Another thing is that the offense has not had 100 yards passing in any of its last three games. Sure, you can say that Florida hasn't needed to throw the football with the success of the running game, but you can't be this one-dimensional and expect to run the table in the SEC. Quarterback Jeff Driskel simply needs to make more plays with his arm to help open up this offense.
The offensive line has also allowed 21 sacks, and the team is converting less than 40 percent of its third downs, which is good for ninth in the SEC.
With the resume that Florida has, I believe that the Gators should be the No. 1 team in the country, but this team could be so much better, which does give the Bulldogs a chance to pull off the upset.
It's a Rivalry Game
What else is there to say?
The Florida-Georgia matchup is one of the best rivalries in all of college football, and both teams are going to come to play. It is really as simple as that.
Seven of the last 10 meetings have been decided by a touchdown or less, including the last two being decided by a combined seven points, according to sports-reference.com.
Regardless of how poor the Bulldogs have been playing as of late, they will be ready for this game, especially with the fact that the SEC East title is on the line in this year’s meeting.
If you expected a blowout, you should really think again as there is quite a bit on the line this weekend. Wide receiver Tavarres King and the Bulldogs know what a victory in this matchup means for their program, according to David Ching of ESPN.
We know what lies ahead, and we're very excited about it. We're very excited about the opportunity that we have and just going to try to take it to Florida in Jacksonville and do what we do. That's first downs and touchdowns on offense.
Need I say more?
Note: All stats come from cfbstats.com unless otherwise noted.