After listening in on numerous conversations all week, I’ve come to the conclusion that there are two factions of Gator fans out there with two very different views of Saturday’s game in Jacksonville.
There are the young fans who think Florida football started in 1990 with Steve Spurrier. These fans are calm, confident, certain the Gators will walk over the ‘Dogs and win the Eastern Division title while hardly breaking a sweat. Their positive feelings are wrapped around the fact the Gators have dominated the rivalry since 1990 and the fact Georgia lost to South Carolina by 28 points (the same team the Gators beat by 33 points last week) and struggled mightily at Kentucky last Saturday.
Here’s my warning to these fans: never compare scores. That never seems to work out. Each game stands on its own, and this is a very dangerous Georgia team with a great quarterback (Aaron Murray) and the best offense the Gators have faced all season. And although the UGA defense has struggled and not even come close to meeting preseason expectations, the Bulldogs will play a lot better than they have mainly because the Florida offense is not generating many yards, especially in the passing game.
Now, to the second faction. These are the older Gators, the ones who lived through and remember the many heartbreaks inflicted on Florida by Georgia back in the 1970s and ‘80s. Despite these many wins over Georgia since 1990, these fans are always going to feel uncomfortable and nervous about going to Jacksonville and facing the Bulldogs. It’s just the way it is.
My advice to these fans is: relax. The Gators may have a hard time moving the ball Saturday, but overall, this Florida team is better than Georgia. Better on defense. Superior on special teams. And highly motivated to erase last season’s bitter memories and earn a trip back to Atlanta for the first time since 2009.
I’m guessing Florida will struggle early on offense (what’s new, right?), but the defense and special teams will control the game until offensive coordinator Brent Pease makes his halftime adjustments and gets the offense moving.
It’s not going to be easy, but the Gators will again find a way to win the game with another team effort. But it’s going to be a lot closer than those younger Gator fans are anticipating.
Prediction: Florida 21, Georgia 20.