Chomp: Unranked Florida looks to spoil top-ranked Georgia’s perfect season bid

FILE - A general view of TIAA Bank Field during a game between the Florida Gators and the Georgia Bulldogs on November 02, 2019, in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) (ME, 2019 Getty Images)

This story first appeared in Chomp, our Gators football newsletter. Subscribe here.

It seems like it’s national championship or bust this year for Kirby Smart and Georgia (insert 1980 joke here).

That’s definitely not the case for Florida (4-3, 2-3 Southeastern Conference). But that won’t make a win over the top-ranked Dawgs (7-0, 5-0) any less meaningful if the unranked Gators can pull the upset on Saturday in Jacksonville.

Hey, Florida was able to do it last year when Kyle Trask helped lead the Gators to a 44-28 victory by throwing for the most yards (474) of any Gator in the history of the rivalry. In fact, it broke a streak of 14 consecutive Florida-Georgia games that had been won by the team with the most rushing yards (Florida won with 97 rushing yards compared to Georgia’s 165).

The Gators, who enter as the No. 4 rush offense in FBS, will be hoping to rush for more yards than that this year, but they’re going against Smart’s vaunted Georgia defense — ranked No. 1 in defense and No. 2 in rush defense nationally.

Last year’s game was also significant for Dan Mullen, who secured his first win over Georgia in his Florida tenure (1-2). It was also his first win in his four meetings with Smart, who holds a 3-1 advantage.

But a win would salvage the season for Gators fans. A win could quiet some of the noise surrounding Mullen, his staff and the program. It’ll also bring the Gators a step closer to tying up the series record (44-52-2).

I mentioned the rushing attack, although we’ll all be watching to see which Florida quarterback runs out onto the field first on Saturday. I’ve heard this a lot this week, and it’s a fair point: It doesn’t matter if it’s Emory Jones or Anthony Richardson who takes the first snap, it’s about who plays the most.

On Wednesday’s SEC coaches teleconference, when asked again about who will be playing at quarterback for the Gators, Mullen responded: “We will play a quarterback on Saturday. We’ll have a quarterback.”

There hasn’t been any movement on the quarterback front for the Dawgs either. We’ll have to wait until Saturday to see if Stetson Bennett IV or JT Daniels gets the nod as starter.

It’s worth noting that this will be the first time in program history that Florida has faced the AP No. 1 team twice in the same season (the other time resulting in a 31-29 loss to then-top-ranked Alabama on Sept. 18).

In the latest episode of Gators Breakdown, David Waters is joined by Robby Steltenpohl and Spencer Van Horn with A Rich Tradition Podcast, to preview what makes Georgia the best team in the country.

The game is the SEC on CBS game of the week and will kick off at 3:30 p.m. at TIAA Bank Field.

🤔 Can the Gators surprise Georgia?

We got this question in our mailbag from Bucky ahead of the game: “Georgia has yet to play elite competition. Do you think the Gators can surprise and expose them?”

Here’s what David has to say: “Georgia has played some good, not great offenses, in Auburn, Arkansas and Kentucky. Those are all offenses that can run the ball, and while Florida is based on the run as well, QB Anthony Richardson has the ability to test Georgia deep as long as the Florida offensive line can give him time. If Florida is to surprise and expose UGA, I believe Anthony Richardson will be the reason because the offense just opens up more when he is the signal-caller. Also, Dan Mullen may have a ‘back against the wall’ moment and have something dialed up we just haven’t seen yet.”

In the latest Gators Breakdown episode, David talks more about the path to a Florida upset victory and his prediction for the game.

🏟️ Florida-Georgia game staying in Jax through at least 2023

The Jacksonville City Council voted unanimously Tuesday evening to approve a contract that will keep the Florida-Georgia game in the River City through at least 2023.

The agreement with the city, the University Athletic Association and the University of Georgia Athletic Association will have the city hosting five games, beginning with the 2021 game, running through the 2023 game and including a two-year extension option for the 2024 and 2025 games.

As part of the agreement, the schools and the city have decided that no temporary seats will be installed in the North End Zone of TIAA Bank Field, which means each school will be compensated $400,000.

Under the contract, the game requires seating at the stadium for at least 82,917 fans unless it’s agreed not to install all or a portion of the temporary seating. With the contract approved, that means about 6,000 seats won’t be added to the North End Zone for this year’s game.

📺 Top Week 9 games to watch

Here’s who all of the AP Top 25 teams are playing in Week 9 (all games are on Saturday unless noted otherwise):

  • Florida vs. No. 1 Georgia in Jacksonville — 3:30 p.m.
  • No. 2 Cincinnati at Tulane — Noon
  • No. 3 Alabama — BYE
  • Texas Tech at No. 4 Oklahoma — 3:30 p.m.
  • No. 20 Penn State at No. 5 Ohio State — 7:30 p.m.
  • No. 6 Michigan at No. 8 Michigan State — Noon
  • Colorado at No. 7 Oregon — 3:30 p.m.
  • No. 9 Iowa at Wisconsin — Noon
  • No. 10 Ole Miss at No. 18 Auburn — 7 p.m.
  • North Carolina at No. 11 Notre Dame — 7:30 p.m.
  • No. 12 Kentucky at Mississippi State — 7 p.m.
  • Duke at No. 13 Wake Forest — 4 p.m.
  • No. 14 Texas A&M — BYE
  • Kansas at No. 15 Oklahoma State — 7 p.m.
  • Texas at No. 16 Baylor — Noon
  • Miami at No. 17 Pittsburgh — Noon
  • No. 19 SMU at Houston — 7 p.m.
  • Fresno State at No. 21 San Diego State — 10:30 p.m.
  • No. 22 Iowa State at West Virginia — 2 p.m.
  • No. 23 UTSA — BYE
  • Troy at No. 24 Coastal Carolina — 7:30 p.m. Thursday
  • Virginia at No. 25 BYU — 10:15 p.m.

📱 Samford game to be carried on SECN+/ESPN+

The SEC announced Tuesday that kickoff for the Gators’ home game against Samford will kick off at noon Nov. 13.

In a first for Florida this season, the game will be carried on SEC Network+ and ESPN+. That means you’ll either need to have a SEC Network subscription through your TV provider or have a subscription to ESPN+. If so, you’ll need to have the ESPN app to stream the matchup.

And, of course, there’s the option of going to the game in person.

🏀 Top 100 prospect commits to Florida men’s basketball

Jalen Reed, the No. 93 overall prospect in the 247Sports 2022 Composite rankings, has committed to the Gators men’s basketball program.

The 6-foot-10, 220-pound power forward out of Castaic’s Southern California Academy committed to Mike White and Florida over his other finalists, including Arizona State, Maryland, Oklahoma and Ole Miss.

Florida’s 2022 class is now ranked 13th in the country and third in the SEC, as Reed joins five-star power forward Malik Reneau and three-star guard Denzel Aberdeen.

✉️ Send us your Gators thoughts & questions

David and I want to hear from you. Do you have any thoughts or questions about the Gators football program? Agree or disagree with something we’ve said? Let us know here, and we’ll share our responses to your questions.

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About the Author:

Jacksonville native and proud University of Florida graduate who joined News4JAX in 2016.