JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — When your day begins with your athletic director issuing a statement that he is not, in fact, negotiating a buyout with the head coach, you know it’s probably going to be a bad day. That’s the way it began for the Florida Gators, and it ended with Georgia winning 42-7.
So it was a very good day for the Bulldogs.
With the victory, No. 3-ranked Georgia improved to 8-0 for the first time since 2005. That happens to be the last time the Bulldogs won the Southeastern Conference. Georgia nearly ended Florida’s NCAA-record streak of 367 consecutive games with at least one score. The Gators scored on a 1-yard TD run with 2:42 to play.
The remaining 57:18 of this rout was all Georgia.
Georgia plays South Carolina next Saturday in Athens. The Gators (3-4, 3-3 SEC) travel to Missouri.
Despite Florida winning the previous two SEC Eastern Division championships, the eventual dismissal of head coach Jim McElwain was the subject of at least one published story on Friday and several on Saturday. Apparently, his recent unsubstantiated comments that his family had received death threats from disgruntled fans has caused a furor among donors and the school’s administration. The Gators’ locker room was declared off limits to anyone other than team members during the game.
Whether it was the pregame distractions or simply the talent gap, the Bulldogs did all the work they needed in the first quarter. They shot out to a 21-0 lead, the biggest margin to start a game for Georgia against Florida at least since 1960 and maybe since 1942, when the eventual national champion Bulldogs beat Florida 75-0. As it was, it was the most-lopsided win by UGA since 1982, when it won 44-0.
Sony Michel was the star of the day for Georgia. The senior tailback scored on runs of 74 and 45 yards and had 137 yards on 6 carries through three quarters, when he left the game for good. Nick Chubb also had 75 yards and scored a touchdown as the Bulldogs rushed 234 yards and attempted just 6 passes through three quarters.
Freshman quarterback Jake Fromm did attempt a pass in the fourth quarter, a 27-yarder to D’Andre Swift. Fromm was subsequently replaced by backup Jacob Eason, who immediately handed off to Elijah Holyfield for a 39-yard touchdown.
It should be noted that Chauncey Gardner, the Florida defensive back who said Fromm did nothing but throw slant patterns, was injured defending one midway through the third quarter. He was trucked by Swift on the play. Gardner did return to the game, however.
The Bulldogs defense recorded 5 sacks against the Gators. That was half of the season total to date. Six different players had a hand in that, with Lorenzo Carter recording the only solo sack.
Florida was limited to 164 total yards and 10 first downs through three quarters. After that, Georgia’s reserves finished the game.
The Bulldogs picked a good time to score a blowout. The first College Football Playoff rankings come out on Tuesday. And shortly after Georgia put the finishing touches on beating Florida, No. 2 Penn State and No. 4 TCU both went down in defeat. As a result, the Bulldogs are expected to be at last No. 2 when the rankings are revealed.
Yeah, it was a good day for the Dogs.