This weekend, the Georgia Bulldogs and the defending national champion Florida Gators are set to meet in Jacksonville. The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party is one of the greatest rivalries in all of college football. Few games have had as numerous title implications as this rivalry, which dates back to 1915.
This season, the defending national champs are coming off two back-to-back nailbiters against Arkansas and Miss St. Despite these two letdown games, the Gators have been fierce this season, silencing any and all critics.
Thus far this season, the Gators and Gator nation have experienced a rollercoaster of emotions. They bested Tennessee both in a war of words and on the field. They travelled to Death Valley and beat LSU. However, their hopes to repeat were dealt a crushing blow when Tim Tebow suffered a concussion against Kentucky. Fortunately for the Gators, Tim made a speedy recovery.
On the other hand, we have Georgia, the favorite to win not only the SEC, but the national title last season. Their chances to face Bama in the SEC Championship Game were obliterated in this very game by a vengeful Florida Gators team.
Midway through this season, there is little doubt the Dogs are missing not just Matt Stafford, but also Knowshon Moreno. The dogs are 4-3 and 0-2 vs. ranked teams.
Interestingly enough, Tebow matched legendary Georgia RB Herschel Walker for the most rushing touchdowns by a single player in SEC history. The last thing Georgia wants to do is allow him to score the tiebreaking TD.
This season, the Gators have plenty to boast about. They sport the eighth-best offense in the nation, spearheaded by Tebow and the sixth-rated rushing attack. Along with their power offense, they have the nation's eighth-ranked defense, which is 12th against the run and an amazing second against the pass.
In order for Georgia to win this game, they have to find some way to stifle the Gator offense—which is averaging 35 points a game—or else they will have to beat Florida in a shootout, which is next to impossible against this defense.
Georgia's offense is lead by sophomore wide-out AJ green. He is perhaps the sole bright spot in an otherwise pedestrian 49th-ranked passing offense. Joe Cox is no Matt Stafford, that's plain enough to see, but the fifth-year senior has tossed 13 scores, despite throwing nine picks.
As challenging as this matchup appears for the Dogs' passing attack, it is a hundredfold tougher for their running game. Georgia has an abysmal ground game, accumulating just over 100 yards per game.
As bleak as the outlook may seem, Georgia fans have reason for hope. This is a rivalry that has produced more than its fair share of last-minute heroics. Notables include Lindsay Scott's 92-yard sprint for a touchdown to save the Dogs' 1980 season, 1995's Gators Half a Hundred Between the Hedges—scoring 52 points between the hedges, a record that still stands today—and perhaps most notably the Gator Stomp of 2007, when Mark Richt encouraged the Dogs to draw a celebration penalty, an image forever burned into the memory of many a Gator fan.
While this matchup may clearly favor the Gators, I'd like to remind fans of both teams not to underestimate a Georgia team that shares more in common with their mascot than most credit them with. Historically, the bulldog would latch on to an opponent’s throat and keep its jowls locked in until their opponent suffocated or bled out. And that is precisely the way these Bulldogs will play if they hope to have a chance of success this weekend.