Florida—Georgia: A Gator's take on Creature Vs. Creature
Starting off, it's only fitting to thank Justin Goar for his creation of the Creature vs. Creature series, a terrific idea that has greatly benefited Bleacher Report.
Now, on to "The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party!"
In one of college football's great rivalries, the Florida Gators face off with the Georgia Bulldogs at a neutral site in Jacksonville, FL.
Georgia leads the all-time series 46-37-2, but the Gators have held the upper hand recently, winning 15 out of the last 18 showdowns.
Of course, everyone remembers "the celebration" from last year's game. As a Gator, I have no desire to mention it again.
Don't worry, I won't keep you any longer.
Let's get down to business!
This season's installment of the Florida—Georgia rivalry features the No. 5 Gators taking on the No. 8 Bulldogs.
The Gator offense looked sluggish to start the season, but has quickly picked up the pace, surpassing 50 points two weeks in a row.
Other than a home loss to Ole Miss, the Gators, for the most part, have looked like the team to beat in the SEC East.
As for the 'Dawgs, Georgia has been impressive thus far, navigating through their tough schedule with only one loss, when they fell to No. 2 Alabama.
Running back Knowshon Moreno has obviously avoided the "sophomore slump," solidifying himself as one of the best running backs in the nation.
As for their season, the Bulldogs are living up to their preseason hype, showing great explosiveness on both sides of the ball, especially on defense.
With no further ado, here we go!
Florida will win if…
1. They can keep Georgia honest.
Georgia has a very dangerous offense and can beat their opponents through the air and on the ground.
However, the Bulldog offense relies heavily on the legs of Knowshon Moreno—perhaps too heavily.
Without Moreno, Matthew Stafford would have a much more difficult time moving the offense through the air.
Stafford is a great quarterback with a bright future in the NFL, but he still hasn't proven that he can put his team on his shoulders and win a big game.
If the Gators get good penetration up front and limit Moreno's yards-per carry average, then Stafford will have the chance to beat the Gators with his arm and prove me wrong.
2. The offense keeps on scoring.
At the dawn of the 2008 season, everyone expected the Florida offense to be unstoppable.
This claim has now been confirmed, but it took until the fourth quarter of the Arkansas game to set off the offensive fireworks.
The key for Florida is to keep both Jeffrey Demps and Chris Rainey heavily involved in the game plan, and to get the ball to the aforementioned freshman tailbacks in space.
If Tim Tebow can keep up with those rushing attack with his arm, it could be a long day for Georgia.
3. Urban Meyer embraces his killer instinct.
When Urban Meyer is determined, he has the ability to floor the gas pedal without letting up, not even for one second.
However, due to the outcry by Miami coach Randy Shannon following the Gators' late field goal in their 26-3 win over the Hurricanes, Meyer has toned it down a bit, letting up much sooner in blowouts than he has before.
In a rivalry game where both the emotions and the championship implications will be sky-high, Meyer will have to keep the Gators focused and going strong, no matter what the scoreboard says.
Against an opponent of Georgia's caliber, you don't let up until the final gun is sounded.
Florida will lose if…
1. The offense becomes "The Tebow and Harvin Show."
Tim Tebow and Percy Harvin are, without question, two of the best play-makers in all of college football.
However, for some reason, whenever those two takeover the bulk of Florida's offense, it never ends well (Gator fans, you know what I'm talking about).
The key to success for the Gators Saturday is to distribute, distribute, distribute the football!
With talented receivers such as Louis Murphy and Riley Cooper, it's not necessary to be throwing to Harvin on every play.
Also, as I mentioned before, Rainey and Demps are the key to the running game.
By mixing it up in the running game, Tebow should be even more effective when he tucks the ball and decides to scramble, making the Gators' offense even more formidable than before.
Heed my words, Dan Mullen.
2. They make too big of a deal over or try to retaliate to "The Celebration."
Yes, we all saw it happen.
Athens was rocking and the Gator Nation looked on in disbelief.
That was last season.
As great as it was for off-season motivation, it's in the past and the Gators need to focus on the game that is happening this Saturday.
If the Gators try to do a mock celebration or if they trash talk too early and too often, it'll come back to hurt them later.
3. They let Georgia play ball control/"keep away."
Throughout the season, Florida's defense has had the luxury of facing many inexperienced quarterbacks and often come off the field after only a few minutes, with the exception of their loss to Ole Miss.
Memo to the Gators: Stafford ain't a frosh!
As much as I dislike the 'Dawgs, I respect them because they have a heck of a football team with a prolific offense.
Georgia is very good at keeping the ball for long stretches of time, especially in the fourth quarter, giving their opponents hardly any time to mount a drive of their own.
Just ask Tennessee, Vanderbilt, and LSU.
None of these teams had a chance after long sustained Georgia drives, and neither will Florida if Moreno and Co. are on the field for too many minutes at a time.
The Gator defense
After being hounded for their inexperience and their failure to come through in the clutch on multiple occasions last season, this is their chance to prove their worth.
The Gators will have to play their best game of the year to earn respect on a national level.
Florida's performance will all come down to the play of Florida linebacker Brandon Spikes.
Spikes is the leader of this defense and he sets the example that the rest of team follows.
The Gators need to get a good, consistent pass rush on Stafford and they need to keep Moreno running between the tackles.
Just imagine the mayhem Moreno would cause with nothing but daylight before him!
This is Florida's biggest game on the national stage and it's do-or-die for Charlie Strong's Gator defense.
Look for some good, old-fashioned, Southern-fried hate to be on display when the Gators and 'Dawgs take the field.
These two teams are evenly matched, but Georgia might be just a little bit better.
However, that won’t matter on Saturday.
Currently, the Gators have the hotter hand, running on the jolt they received after losing to Ole Miss at home.
As for Georgia, they have showed flashes of brilliance over the season, but the Bulldogs still haven't played their best football yet.
I'm sure Georgia fans would agree with me in saying that the "The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party" wouldn't be a bad time to peak.
If I was wearing my orange-and-blue glasses, I'd pick Florida by about seven, eight—100 touchdowns!
Of course, that would be too subjective and would not classify as journalistic integrity.
In all seriousness, the two rivals will be evenly matched for the majority of the game, but Tim Tebow and the Gators will turn out to be too much for the Georgia defense to handle, and pull away in the fourth quarter.
Florida 38, Georgia 28
To read Jay Butler's two cents, click here.
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