Florida Gators 2008 Season Preview: Game Eight vs. Georgia

Joe MorganSenior Analyst IAugust 11, 2008

My name is Joseph Morgan, and I'll be breaking down each of the 2008 Florida Gators' opponents and making predictions game by game.

Please feel free to give your input and make your opinions known throughout the series. I am happy to discuss the games.

Game Eight vs. Georgia, November 1

Info: Arguably the hottest team at 2007's end, the Georgia Bulldogs capped off a torrid run, winning their seventh straight game in a 41-10 Sugar Bowl rout of Hawaii.

During the first half of 2007, the 'Dawgs underperformed, losing to South Carolina at home 16-12 and embarrassed 35-14 by the Volunteers in Knoxville.

Then, it happened.

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Georgia stormed the field following its first touchdown in their matchup with Florida, sparking a 42-30 win over the Gators and their undefeated run to finish the season.

Dubbed “The Celebration,” Georgia’s euphoric act became the defining moment of their season and left the Gators embarrassed and eager for revenge.

Offseason: The Georgia Bulldogs return a remarkable 15 starters from last season’s team and are loaded for a national championship run in 2008. The returning experience from last year along with the coaching ability Mark Richt makes the 2008 Bulldogs a top contender for the SEC Championship and the BCS National Championship.

However, Georgia has struggled off the field throughout the offseason. Seven Georgia players, including potential starters sophomore left tackle Trinton Sturdivant and senior defensive end Jeremy Lomax have been arrested since Georgia's Sugar Bowl victory.

Although Georgia is certainly not the only team in college football that has had run-ins with the law, Mark Richt needs to curb these distractions if Georgia is to live up to the preseason hype of their #1 ranking.

2008 Outlook: The offense for the #1 team in the land will be led by quarterback Matthew Stafford. Stafford, coming into his third consecutive year as the starting quarterback, passed for his Georgia career-high 2,523 passing yards and 19 touchdowns last season. He'll be looking to improve on those numbers this fall.

Although the talent of Stafford is undeniable, sophomore running back Knowshon Moreno is the engine that makes the ‘Dawgs offense go. Moreno surprised the SEC with 1,334 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns in 2007, doing the majority of his damage in the second half of the season.

Moreno, the first Georgia freshman to amass 1,000+ rushing yards since Herschel Walker, has garnered Heisman and Preseason All-American attention and faces high expectations as the starting tailback for the Bulldogs.

The ‘Dawgs are also deep in their secondary and on the defensive line. The leader of the line is defensive tackle Geno Atkins. The junior tackle led Georgia with 7.5 sacks during the 2007 campaign.

Game Prediction: Florida 42, Georgia 38

In what could be the biggest game of the season, two legit national title contenders will do battle with bragging rights and possibly, both the SEC and National Championships on the line. Florida and Georgia both have their fair share of talent and have experience on both sides of the ball.

The Gators will do their best to spread the ball around to their massive array of playmakers. Tim Tebow will look to get the ball to the likes of Percy Harvin and Chris Rainey in space to take advantage of Florida’s great speed and to keep the Georgia defense on its heels.

As for the ‘Dawgs, they will try to establish the running game early and ride Knowshon Moreno to a second straight victory over the hated Gators. If Moreno is effective on the ground, Matthew Stafford will be able to keep the Gator defense honest by connecting with wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi and senior tight end Tripp Chandler for solid yardage.

When it comes down to it, these two teams hate each other.

Florida coach Urban Meyer has not let his players forget “The Celebration” from a year ago and the humiliation will be fresh on the minds of the Gator players. The ‘Dawgs and the Gators will match each other score for score until the very end.

When the dust settles, the Florida defense will finally get the monkey off its back and stop Georgia on a crucial last-minute drive, sealing the win and solidifying Florida as the BCS title favorite at the conclusion of Week 11.

The Gators improve to 8-0 and will travel to Nashville to face Vanderbilt on November 8. Will the Gators suffer a letdown after an emotional win over Georgia? Stay tuned to find out!


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