Georgia defeated Florida Saturday night 24-17 in what can be called an instant classic. With both teams having two weeks to prepare, this game could have gone either way.
The Bulldogs sent a message to every doubter since the South Carolina game. Now the performance against the Gators wasn’t perfect, but it gave Georgia its second win over a top-10 opponent.
For both teams, this matchup was about who could step up and be the better team. It was also an elimination game for the college playoffs. Georgia had to prove that it was still relevant despite a slow October. If they wanted back in Atlanta, back into the playoffs, and compete for a national championship, they had to beat a top-10 ranked Florida team.
If you look at this rivalry, especially recent history, when the stage is this massive, Georgia falters and loses the game. At least that’s how it is for me. Not this time, the Bulldogs showed which team was more talented and wanted it more.
When you hear the team who wanted it more usually takes it home, well that’s what happened to the Gators. Georgia wanted to win more than anything, and it did everything in its power to get it done.
Before the game, my prediction was that whoever could win on third-down conversions and run the ball would win the game, and that’s precisely what happened.
Now I don’t want to take away from what starting quarterback Jake Fromm did with the passing game because that’s how we scored, but it was the running game that allowed the Bulldogs to air it out.
Georgia also did a much better job on third down. The Bulldogs converted 12-of-18 third downs while the Gators only converted 2-of-9.
Jake Fromm silenced his haters and showed Florida how to get the job done. He completed 20-of-30 passes for 279 yards and two touchdowns. The Bulldogs averaged 14 yards a play through the air.
Georgia finished with 119 rushing and with 398 total offensive yards, but more importantly, got the job done. Here are this week’s dawg bones
I’m giving out two offensive dawg bones for their performances against the Gators. Lawrence Cager and the entire offensive line are this week’s winners.
Cager has been out with an injury and returned for this big matchup against Florida.
However, it was like he hadn’t missed any time.
Cager led the team with seven catches for 132 yards and one touchdown. He also caught the two-point attempt, as well.
As he did in the past, Cager gives Fromm a ton of confidence. Not to mention the incredible catch he made during the game that a lot of people think thought wasn’t one.
Cager is a gift for Fromm and Georgia’s lucky to have him. He proved it yet again on Saturday.
The real winner this week is Georgia’s offensive line.
This group has improved so much in the last two weeks and didn’t allow the No. 1 SEC sacking defense to get one on Jake Fromm.
Coming into this game, Florida had 29 sacks and averaged 3.22 a game. The Bulldogs offensive line gave Fromm time and then some to make plays happen. Now they weren’t perfect, and Fromm had to scramble a few times, but they did their job.
Sam Pittman did a great job helping them learn how to get a better advantage. I mean, so many of the third and short situations happened because the offensive line made sure to get that advantage.
It was a much-improved performance, and they’re the big winners of the offensive dawg bones.
This week’s winner on the defense is the entire front seven. From the defensive line to the linebackers, this group was hungry and proved a point.
Florida was very successful through the air against the Bulldogs secondary, which is why they’re not in here. The Gators had 257 yards through the air and two touchdowns. However, Georgia’s secondary had four pass breakups during the game and did a great job against them.
But it was guys like Jordan Davis, Malik Herring, Monty Rice, Jermaine Johnson, Nakobe Dean, Travon Walker, Devonte Wyatt and so many others that came up big for the Bulldogs.
Georgia recorded two sacks and 3.5 tackles for loss. Davis and Herring got a momentum-changing 19-yard sack in the third quarter that helped the Bulldogs shut down Florida yet again.
Like I mentioned above, the Gators converted 2-of-9 third downs, and this front seven made sure they didn’t get anymore.
The even more impressive stat is that through eight games, Georgia has yet to give up a rushing touchdown. Against the Gators, the Bulldogs held them to 21 rushing yards on 19 attempts.
While there were some silly penalties, this defense was rock solid and proved who had the better group.
Rodrigo Blankenship, of course, gets this week’s special teams dawg bone. He made all three of his field goals against the Gators and recorded five touchbacks on his six kickoffs.
Blankenship looked back to his usual self after the heartbreaker against South Carolina, converting field goals of 31, 37 and 27 yards.
This season he’s already at 39 touchbacks with four regular-season games to go. Blankenship is solidifying himself as one of the best kickers to ever come through Georgia, and Saturday showed his poise and maturity.
After giving him such a hard time, I’d like to give James Coley the coaching dawg bone this week. He did an excellent job against the Gators switching things up and using a lot of the weapons Georgia’s offense has.
The play call for Cager’s touchdown catch was beautiful and couldn’t have worked better. Georgia fans are harsh critics, but after that, one Coley deserved some credit.
Georgia heads back home with three straight wins over the Gators, and it’s a great feeling. However, now the Bulldogs have to worry about a scrappy Missouri team that has a good one in Kelly Bryant.
The Tigers have had their fair share of mishaps this season, but this game could be a problem for Georgia if the Bulldogs let that happen.
Kickoff is at 7 p.m. on ESPN as the Bulldogs have to fight off one more SEC East opponent, However, for the rest of the season, the Bulldogs will have to fight to keep its spot in the playoffs at this point, so Missouri is the next victim.