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Thursday, 30 October 2014

Florida at Georgia:Five ThingsYou Need to Know

The Georgia Bulldogs finally got the answer they were waiting on, but it was not the news they were looking for.

Georgia running back Todd Gurley must sit out two more games for accepting more than $3,000 in cash from multiple individuals for autographed memorabilia, the NCAA ruled Wednesday.

Georgia issued a statement Wednesday saying it plans to appeal the decision immediately. The NCAA membership committee that oversees the reinstatement process will review the appeal this week. The committee can reduce or remove the conditions the staff has imposed, but cannot increase them.

According to the NCAA, Gurley received the cash for signing memorabilia and other items over two years and must repay a portion of the money he received to a charity of his choice and also complete 40 hours of community service as conditions of his reinstatement.

This is better news for the Florida Gators, who are hoping to take the last five games of their season and rum toward a better bowl game and the potential saving of Will Muschamp’s job.

The Georgia-Florida Game is one of the biggest traditions in college football.

Since 1933 it has been held in Jacksonville, Florida, with only two exceptions, making it one of the few remaining neutral-site rivalries. The game attracts huge crowds to Jacksonville, and the associated tailgating and other events earned it the nickname of the "World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party".

The game has often had championship implications, with both teams competitive in the Southeastern Conference. Florida, which did not win the SEC title until 1991, had its hopes dashed several times by a loss to Georgia in Jacksonville.  The game took on new importance when the SEC split into Eastern and Western Divisions in 1992, with both Florida and Georgia in the Eastern. As the two teams have frequently led the division, the game has often effectively determined who will represent the Eastern Division in the SEC Championship Game. To date, Florida has ten Eastern Division titles while Georgia has five.

While the two universities agree that Georgia leads the overall series, they disagree as to the overall series record due to the disputed 1904 game. As of the 2013 contest, Georgia leads with a 50–40–2 record by its reckoning, and 49–40–2 by Florida's count.  Georgia dominated the series before 1951 and had a 15-5 record in the 1970s and 1980s. Florida compiled an 18-3 record against Georgia from 1990 to 2010.

Here are five things to know about this game.


This says a lot for the game. The Bulldogs have not missed a beat since Gurley has been suspended, but the idea Gurley would suit up for the game would have given the Dawgs an added boost.

Georgia is nearing the three-week mark since Gurley, a star tailback who had been among the top Heisman Trophy candidates, was indefinitely suspended Oct. 9 while the school investigated allegations he received improper benefits for signing autographs.

Gurley, a junior, has rushed for 773 yards with eight touchdowns and has averaged 8.2 yards per carry.


Harris replaces fourth-year junior Jeff Driskel, who has struggled mightily in the Gators' last four games.

"[Harris] is getting all the reps right now," Will Muschamp said, "and Jeff is certainly going to have a role in that game."

After sitting in the coaches' booth for the LSU game on Oct. 11, Harris returned to the field against Missouri and was 8-of-12 passing for 98 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He also ran for a touchdown and lost a fumble on a first-quarter sack.

"You saw what he did late in the game," Muschamp said Wednesday. "He has a knack for making plays and making some good things happen for our football team. We've struggled with production at the quarterback position, and that's been an issue for us along with others. Been a huge issue for us.


Last year, Georgia raced out to a 20-0 lead before the Gators turned up their defensive performance a notch or two and worked back into the game.  Turnovers by the Bulldogs afforded Florida multiple opportunities to get points, and Will Muschamp's team capitalized repeatedly.

As a result, a 20-point lead dwindled to a three-point margin in the fourth quarter, and the Dawgs needed a long, clock-eating drive to survive in Jacksonville.

Controlling the clock earlier in the game will help alleviate late-game pressure and lessen the potential for a disheartening defeat at the hands of the Gators.  Turnovers must be avoided, and Georgia's occasional hurry-up offense should be traded for a more conservative pace—even if play-calling does not differ.


There is more riding on this game for Florida than just a win.

A win halts Georgia's momentum in the rivalry—which should help Florida in recruiting.  A victory puts Florida back at .500 in SEC play and at 4-3 overall, and it quiets some of the chatter regarding Muschamp's job security.

Florida must recognize the magnitude of this moment and rise to greet it rather than shying away.  The Gators need to take chances in play-calling, gamble on defense and try to make something happen on special teams.

It will take a memorable performance to upset the Bulldogs, but if the Gators can manufacture such a showing, it could springboard them into a strong close through November.


But it is closer than you think. There are twists and turns in this rivalry that make this must see television. Georgia’s running game will control the clock. This might be a higher scoring game than one might think? Look for the Gators to try and score through the air often, keeping the Bulldogs secondary on its toes.




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