Jake Fromm, Georgia Pull Away from Florida for Important 36-17 SEC Win

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistOctober 27, 2018

JACKSONVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 27:  Jeremiah Holloman #9 of the Georgia Bulldogs celebrates a touchdown during a game against the Florida Gators at TIAA Bank Field on October 27, 2018 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The No. 7 Georgia Bulldogs defeated the No. 9 Florida Gators 36-17 at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, Florida, on Saturday to seize control of the SEC East.

Georgia improved its overall record to 7-1 with a 5-1 mark in conference play, while Florida is now 6-2 on the season, including a 4-2 SEC record.

The Bulldogs' talented defense was the deciding factor in the game, as it forced three Florida turnovers and held Gators quarterback Feleipe Franks to 105 yards, one touchdown and one interception on 13-of-21 passing.

Florida's greatest success offensively came on the ground, as Jordan Scarlett, Lamical Perine and Franks combined to rush for the bulk of the 170 yards the Gators accrued in the running game.

Georgia didn't have a huge day offensively, but it rushed for 189 yards as a team, including 104 yards and a game-clinching touchdown in the fourth quarter by D'Andre Swift.

Also, sophomore quarterback Jake Fromm was efficient with 240 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.

The Bulldogs scored 10 points off turnovers in the contest, including a touchdown after a Scarlett fumble in the first quarter and a field goal after Franks fumbled at his own 1-yard line in the third.

Georgia also scored 23 of the game's final 27 points, including two fourth-quarter touchdowns to pull away from the Gators.

By virtue of Saturday's win, Georgia continues to control its own destiny in the SEC East in terms of setting up a potential SEC Championship Game clash with the Alabama Crimson Tide.

     

QB Play Will Prevent Georgia, Florida from Challenging Alabama

Both Georgia and Florida boast strong defenses and running games, but the biggest wild card for them from week to week is their quarterback play.

That was on display Saturday, as Fromm played one of his better games of the year, while Franks struggled mightily, save for a few impressive plays.

Saturday marked one of the few times this season that Fromm was among the biggest reasons for a Georgia win.

Last week, he was perhaps the primary reason the Bulldogs lost their first game of the season, as he threw two picks and completed less than half of his throws in a 36-16 rout at the hands of the LSU Tigers.

On Saturday, Fromm was far more accurate, and he found ways to get the Bulldogs on the scoreboard.

That included a pair of red-zone touchdown passes to Jeremiah Holloman in the first and third quarters.

After a Florida field goal in the fourth quarter cut Georgia's lead to six, Fromm essentially put the game away with a 24-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Terry Godwin with 8:39 remaining.

Danny Kanell of CBS Sports was among those who were impressed by his performance Saturday and ability to bounce back from last week:

Still, Fromm hasn't thrown for 300 or more yards in a game this season, and while it can be argued that he hasn't had to, Georgia will need him to win a game on his own at some point.

Last week against an elite defense on the road, Fromm looked like a young, confused quarterback.

That type of showing won't be good enough to push Alabama in a possible SEC Championship Game, especially since 'Bama has struggled most against teams with great quarterback play in recent years, including falling to Deshaun Watson and Clemson in the National Championship Game two seasons ago.

Florida has an uphill climb to win the SEC East after Saturday's loss, but even if it does pull off the feat, Franks is too much of an Achilles' heel to win the conference.

Franks was intercepted on his fifth throw of the game. Before that, Justin Granit of CBS Tampa offered some heavy criticism:

Doug Gottlieb of Fox Sports Radio agreed:

Franks undoubtedly has an impressive skill set, and he showed it off on a one-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.

Even better was his 36-yard dart to Freddie Swain early in the third quarter to help take a one-point lead over Georgia:

Franks did virtually nothing after that, though, and former ESPN SEC recruiting analyst Derek Tyson blamed it on a lack of accuracy:

Whatever the case, Franks simply hasn't been good enough, and the Gators can't seem to find a reliable option under center.

Given how poorly Franks played Saturday, Florida would have virtually no chance against a complete team like Alabama in a championship situation.

     

Georgia Not a Legitimate CFP Contender Despite Win

Georgia turned in a complete performance to beat a Top 10 team Saturday, and that will likely generate plenty of talk that the Bulldogs are back and ready to return to the College Football Playoff.

Although the Bulldogs are among the best all-around teams in the nation, it isn't lining up well for them to be one of the top four teams at the conclusion of the season.

Alabama, Clemson and Notre Dame are all undefeated, and none of them appear likely to lose any time soon.

That means there will be only one playoff spot available for the likes of Georgia, Oklahoma, LSU, Michigan, Texas, Ohio State and others.

Winning out would likely earn Georgia that position, but it would mean beating Alabama in the SEC Championship Game.

The Bulldogs couldn't beat Alabama in the National Championship Game last season, and there is a far wider gap between the teams currently.

Georgia lost a ton of talent to the NFL draft, including running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, linebacker Roquan Smith and offensive lineman Isaiah Wynn.

Fromm is in his second year as a starter, but the improvement hasn't been as obvious as that of Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who is the leading Heisman Trophy candidate.

If Georgia played in any other conference, it would have the look of a team capable of winning the conference and going to the CFP, even with Fromm having some up-and-down performances.

Alabama is playing at a different level, though, and provided the Bulldogs lose to the Tide in the SEC Championship Game, it is tough to envision them getting selected for the CFP with two losses.

                              

What's Next?

Georgia will face the No. 12 Kentucky Wildcats on the road next week in a game that could decide who represents the SEC East in the SEC title game.

Also next week, Florida will host a Missouri Tigers team that could pose a tough challenge because of the presence of quarterback Drew Lock and an explosive offense.

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