Florida-Georgia: Swampy Prediction Hedges in Jacksonville

Chaz MattsonAnalyst IOctober 30, 2008

The Georgia and Florida rivalry game is a game where old habits can sometimes die hard.  These two schools have been playing football for over one hundred years each. Additionally, due to the proximity, these schools have played one another more than any other schools in their combined histories.

Traditional powers and traditional rivals, this classic is about the tradition of slapping leather, popping plastic, and crunching helmets and pads alike.  This game is always worthy of Keith Jackson’s famous bellowing moniker, “Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh Nelly!”

An old phrase in football goes something like this: “When these two teams get together, you can throw out the records.”  Maybe it was someone named Nelly who originally said it.  Whatever the case, this was probably the rivalry they were talking about.

No other rivalry has what this one has: two warm weather schools who genuinely know how to celebrate and enjoy their rivalry.  There are far more bitter rivals in sport, let alone college football.

The division is there, face the facts, but for years this game was called the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.  The name of the rivalry was changed to curb underage drinking in light of some tragedies surrounding this annual game.

This game is all about priorities and being hospitable, cordial, and maintaining one's Southern charm and sense of character. 

There can be no doubt as the weekend approaches that this game is going to be played by two teams that want to win.  These teams are built to win, and they do a lot of it along the way.

Somehow both Georgia and Florida have hit a stumbling block out of the gates, but this Saturday there will be blood, and it will flow red, blue, orange, grey, black, and white with a pinch of Gator green.

Somewhere between the Swamp and the hedges in Jacksonville on Saturday there’s gonna be a dawg fight, so go tell all your friends.  Word on the street is it’s gonna be a good one between the Dawgs and the Gators.

Heading into an annual rivalry, it’s usually wise to throw all logic out the window.  Teams get emotional, and sometimes they are sky high and other times they come out low.

This is a rivalry game with added incentive, and it’s quite clear.  The winner remains BCS eligible and has an outside shot to play for the BCS National Championship.  The loser of this matchup is going to think about this game in the offseason for all the wrong reasons and play in a bowl game of lesser importance.

This game is for all the marbles, punch, daisies, dog bones, biscuits, grits, smack talk, and all other mentionables.  Sunday morning will come, but it’s going to hurt like crazy for one team and feel like mission accomplished for the other. 

So with these two schools so tightly competitive, how do you find the edge, and what is it?  You have to dig, research, surf the web, listen, get a pulse, look at the numbers, put together a pitch, and just like a game plan, hope it sticks.  Logic doesn’t always work—it’s time to see what sticks.

Traditionally Georgia owns the rivalry by a margin of 11 games.  Florida has won 37 times with Georgia taking 46 games.  Advantage Georgia


Traditionally Georgia also owns an overall win percentage of .645 compared to Florida’s win percentage of .623, an overall margin of .022.  Advantage Georgia


In recent years Florida has owned the series, going 15-3 since 1990.  Advantage Florida


At Florida the big man on campus is quarterback Tim Tebow, who has a 157.6 passer efficiency, completing about 63 percent of his passes.  So far this season he has thrown 12 touchdowns and two interceptions.

For Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford has a passer efficiency that is very comparable at 145.9 and a completion percentage at about 62 percent.  Stafford has thrown for 12 touchdowns and five interceptions, three more than Tebow.

They are virtually the same quarterback with the exception being the three additional interceptions.  This could cost Georgia one turnover in the game.  Advantage Florida


Florida is averaging 42 points a game and Georgia just over 34 points a game.  Advantage Florida


On the ground, Georgia back Knowshon Moreno is averaging nearly 116 yards per game with a blistering 6.2 yards per carry and 12 touchdowns.  Florida does not have a running back who is in the top 50 or averaging near 100 yards on the ground.  Advantage Georgia


In receiving Georgia has A.J. Green averaging over 80 yards a game at 17 yards per catch with a total of five touchdowns.  In total offense Georgia leads Florida by a total of 15 yards.  Advantage Georgia


In the kicking game Blair Walsh of Georgia has topped Jonathan Phillips of Florida by a total of four points so far this season.  The punters for both schools carry the exact same 43.8 average.

The punt return game could be the most explosive part of the game on Saturday.  Florida has two returners who average over 20 yards a return in Brandon James and William Green, and Jeffrey Demps is just under a 20-yard average.

Georgia has Asher Allen and Reshad Jones averaging just under 20 yards per return, and they have the game changer in Prince Miller, who is averaging nearly 45 yards per return with one touchdown.  Advantage Georgia


On defense Florida’s Ahmad Black and Georgia’s Reshad Jones both have three interceptions.  Georgia is giving up under 80 yards on the ground while Florida is giving up around 100 per game.

Florida is giving up just under 12 points per game while Georgia has given up an average around 20.  Florida has also surrendered an average of 20 fewer yards on defense.  Advantage Florida


Finally, with regard to the turnover margin, Georgia is at plus-three while Florida is at plus-10.  Advantage Florida


National rankings have Florida at five and Georgia at eight on the AP poll.  Advantage Florida


The coaching staffs are dead even.


That brings the advantages on the advantages to Florida 6, Georgia 4.  Advantage Florida


That leads to the prediction for the game:

Florida Gators 32, Georgia Bulldogs 23


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