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Back in the day, Florida's Percy Harvin got rocked by Reshad Jones in a 42-30 Bulldogs win over a Tim Tebow-led Gators team.

Georgia-Florida statistical comparison suggests defensive battle looms

ATHENS — Georgia and Florida football fans might want to fasten their seatbelts for some rock’em sock’em football next Saturday.

For all the talk of Dan Mullen’s offensive genius and Jake Fromm’s potential NFL stock, this season’s edition of the teams’ rivalry game in Jacksonville could tilt toward being a defensive struggle.

The No. 8-ranked Bulldogs (6-1, 3-1 SEC) play the No. 6-ranked Gators (7-1, 4-1) at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday at TIAA Bank Stadium in Florida.

The numbers suggest turnovers will be more important than ever, as both Georgia and Florida feature top defenses that will only get stronger with key players returning this week.

UGA cornerback Tyson Campbell has been back practicing for a week and could help anchor one of the nation’s most underrated secondaries.

Florida’s pass rush, meanwhile, looks to become even more fierce with preseason All-SEC defensive end Jabari Zuniga expected to play after being sidelined with an ankle injury in a 29-21 win over Kentucky on Sept. 14.

Both defenses are already among the best in the nation.

The Bulldogs have the No. 5 scoring defense in the nation, and the Gators rank No. 12 in the country in that department.

A deeper look into advanced metrics reveals neither Florida nor Georgia have the most explosive offenses — the Gators with just nine plays of 40 yards or longer in 8 games (55h in the nation), the Bulldogs with only  seven in 7 games (81st).

Georgia opened as a 6 1/2-point favorite, even though Florida is the higher-ranked team. By Monday morning, the spread had fallen to 4 points, and indication that more money has been bet on the Gators.

Scoring Offense

T-24. Georgia 36.0 points per game

45. Florida 32.5

Rushing Offense

16. Georgia 236.9 yards per game

90. Florida 142.4

Passing Efficiency

19. Florida 157.79 passer rating

27. Georgia 154.07

Third Down Conversion Rate

30. Florida .443 conversion percentage

38. Georgia .430

Total Offense

21. Georgia 471.3 yards per game

52. Florida 419.6

Scoring Defense

5. Georgia 10.60 points per game

12. Florida 15.80

Rushing Defense

5. Georgia 85.7 yards per  game allowed

31. Florida 124.1

Third Down Conversion Defense

15. Georgia .304 conversion allowed 

41. Florida .349

Pass Efficiency Defense

9. Georgia 105.68 rating

24. Florida 116.11

Total Defense

7. Georgia 266.7 yards per  game allowed

25. Florida 319.5

Turnover Margin

T-36. Florida Plus-0.38 per game

54. Georgia Plus-0.14

Time of Possession

7. Georgia 34:07

51. Florida 30:30

Punt Returns

T-15. Georgia 13.67 yards per return

T-107. Florida 4.75

Net Punting

12. Florida 42.68

19. Georgia 41.91

Kick Returns

61. Florida 21.00

128. Georgia 14.00

Kick Return Defense

T-46. Florida 19.54

T-50. Georgia 19.71

Field Goal Percentage

20. Georgia 85.71 percent

25. Florida 85.71 percent

 

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