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Georgia vs. Florida
Spread: Georgia -6.5
Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
A pair of one-loss teams with national championship aspirations meet Saturday.
And given the respective position of each, it’s a knockout game.
This is essentially a Sweet 16 matchup as the winner has a clear path to the SEC Championship Game, where a win would give either a great shot at making the College Football Playoff (assuming the winner doesn’t stumble).
Georgia has allowed just one opponent to reach 20 points, a loss to South Carolina 20-17 in Week 7. The Gamecocks had just an 8 percent postgame win expectancy, thanks to Jake Fromm’s first pick-six of his career along with some conservative play-calling.
Florida lost at LSU, where Joe Burrow finished his final three drives with touchdowns. The Gators earned plenty of respect after the game in Baton Rouge, as Kirby Smart remarked in his Monday presser how dangerous Kyle Trask is at quarterback for Florida.
How Georgia-Florida odds have shifted
Just 32 percent of the bets are on the Bulldogs as of Friday afternoon, but the money bet is dead even.
The total has also dipped two points, from 47 to 45.
Assessing the offenses
Smart is correct. Trask leads a Florida attack that is No. 8 in passing success rate, but 78th in pass explosiveness.
Florida is 52nd in total offense, with all the water being carried by the passing game because the rushing success rate ranks 114th.
Georgia should sell out to defend the passing game, which is a strength of the Bulldogs. Smart’s defense is 12th in opponent passing success rate.
The Bulldogs will do their best to keep Fromm in standard downs, as Georgia has a pass explosiveness rank of 117th. It’s not that he can’t make the throws, but Georgia has been very conservative on offense all year.
Georgia boasts maybe the best offensive line in college football. Per Football Outsiders, the Dawgs rank No. 1 in line yards. Compare that with Florida’s ranking of 98th.
Georgia’s offense does lack explosiveness in the passing game (although potentially getting wide receiver Lawrence Cager back could help), but Fromm is a quality quarterback and Smart has one of the best rushing attacks in FBS. Georgia is one of only five teams nationally averaging over six yards per carry.
Our Action Network numbers make this game Georgia -7, well ahead of the market that currently sits at -5.5 after a brief dip to -3.5 and -4 earlier in the week. One team has a clear advantage in offensive and defensive success rate, along with havoc, third-down conversion and red zone rates.
If Georgia can resolve issues in identifying explosive receiving targets, the Bulldogs would have a legitimate chance at winning the College Football Playoff after beating Florida.
The pick: Georgia -5.5
Assessing the defenses
The Georgia defense has been rock-solid all season, ranking in the top 10 in yards per play and passing yards per attempt. Now, with the secondary likely getting Tyson Campbell back, they are one of the few units in college football that can match up with Florida’s deadly receiving corps. It doesn’t create too much havoc, but it’s fundamentally sound at every level.
The Gators’ talent on the outside is among the best in the country, especially when you include tight end Kyle Pitts, who plays more like a receiver. Coach Dan Mullen’s bunch will also benefit from the return of Kadarius Toney, one of the most electric wideouts in the country.
That said, the rest of Florida’s offense has struggled, especially on the ground, as the Gators are only averaging 4.3 yards per carry (75th nationally).
You can blame the backs, but the offensive line, which was the major question mark coming into the season, just isn’t getting enough push. The line sits outside the top 75 in almost every advanced metric. Don’t expect Florida to get much on the ground.
Now, Florida does have a quality defense, led by an excellent secondary (as usual) and aggressive play-calling from Todd Grantham, who will also have his two best pass rushers back.
But this team has really struggled to defend the interior rush against Power 5 teams this season. And that’s where Georgia is going to focus behind its dominant offensive line.
The pick: Under 45
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