It’s Florida-Georgia again with everything at stake

The fate of the 2019 season will be decided on Saturday


It’s always exciting when these bitter rivals do battle.

Bennett Carollo, Sports Editor

Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but the stakes will be high when the one-loss Gators and Bulldogs meet for their annual rivalry game on Saturday. The storyline heading into this year’s Florida-Georgia game is eerily similar to the one from a year ago. Last year, both teams entered the game with one loss within the SEC and Georgia was ranked number seven in the nation, while Florida was number nine. This year, the game will again seemingly decide supremacy in the SEC East, with each team carrying a single SEC loss into the game. The only slight difference is that Florida appears to be the favorite in 2019, as they are ranked at number six in the country compared to Georgia’s ranking of number eight. Regardless, the Gators will be hungry for a different outcome, as they were humbled in a 38-17 loss in Jacksonville a year ago.

After the 2018 game saw the Bulldogs win convincingly, the two squads’ seasons went in opposite directions. Georgia built off their momentum from beating Florida and established themselves as a college football power in the following weeks. Largely due to beating the Gators, they represented the East in the SEC Championship game and were oh-so-close to overcoming Alabama and advancing to the College Football Playoff. On the other hand, Florida’s defeat in Jacksonville essentially eliminated them from both SEC East and CFP contention, and a loss to Missouri in the next game sealed their fate. The stakes will be the same this year, as it’s difficult to see the loser of the game finding a way to come back to win the East or get any CFP consideration.

As mentioned earlier, Florida is the favorite to win this year’s game, and rightfully so. The Gators’ lone loss was a hard fought 42-28 decision in Death Valley against current number one LSU. Georgia, however, suffered an embarrassing 20-17 double overtime loss to unranked South Carolina at home. This Gators team is also more complete than last season’s incarnation, particularly on offense. Starting quarterback Felipe Franks was injured in a September 14 game at Kentucky, but backup Kyle Trask has stepped in seamlessly. In fact, Trask led a comeback in that game against the Wildcats, which to this point is the major turning point of Florida’s season. It doesn’t hurt that he has one of the nation’s best groups of playmakers to throw to, including Kadarius Toney, Van Jefferson, and Freddie Swain. However, the Gators’ calling card has always been defense and this year’s version is as good as ever. Points should be hard to come by for Jake Fromm and Georgia on Saturday, especially if linebacker Jonathan Greenard and lineman Jabari Zuniga are recovered from their injuries. In the end, I foresee the Gators getting their revenge on Saturday. After that, it should be smooth sailing through an easy stretch of games against Vanderbilt, Missouri, and FSU, until the SEC Championship game, where Dan Mullen and Co. will set their sights on a CFP berth.