JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Georgia remains the most dominant team in college football and continues its march toward the SEC Championship Game entering the month of November.
The first official College Football Playoff rankings will come out on Tuesday night, with the undefeated Bulldogs (8-0 6-0 SEC) a slam dunk to hold the No. 1 spot with a home game against woeful Missouri on deck.
Coach Kirby Smart has built a prolific defense that features a fearsome defensive front protecting a green but growing cornerback room that flanks two experienced safeties.
Florida (4-4, 2-4) actually outgained Georgia 355-354 on Saturday, but the Bulldogs’ defense forced three turnovers in a 2 1/2-minute span just before half that led to 21 points and put UGA in control.
Here’s a look at whose stock went up, and whose stayed even in the 34-7 win over the Gators at TIAA Bank Field.
Nolan Smith: The No. 1-ranked player overall in the 2019 recruiting class played like it, forcing a fumble he recovered at the Florida 11 to set up one TD, and then moments later, intercepting a tipped pass at the Gators’ 36 to set up another TD.
Quay Walker: Nolan Smith made the splashy plays but Walker was a force leading the team with 13 tackles, including 7 of the open-field variety.
Nakobe Dean: Dean’s Pick-6 was the “play of the game” according to Smart, noting it turned back Florida’s momentum in the final moments of the first half and gave Georgia an insurmountable 24-0 lead.
Zamir White: The veteran recorded his first 100-yard game of the season, and he did it with strong North-South running, appearing to trust the power in his legs and aim hard at daylight. White also broke free for his longest run of the season, a 42-yard burst.
Derion Kendrick: Not only does this cornerback have lockdown skills and play efficient in zone coverage, but he also showed he was capable of coming up in run support and putting his weight behind a hit.
Kearis Jackson: The tough junior wideout had his best game fo the season, leading all UGA pass catchers with 3 receptions for 59 yards including a 36-yard TD catch. Jackson appeared more explosive in this game than any of his previous appearances this season, also returning a kick 31 yards.
Adam Anderson: The Georgia sacks leader recorded another QB takedown among his 7 tackles, forcing the Florida offensive line to account for his whereabouts on each snap.
Channing Tindall: It’s amazing how many truly great linebackers the Bulldogs have, Tindall among them with 7 stops in this game. Tindall’s pursuit speed and sharp angles have opened NFL scouts’ eyes to the possibilities.
Stetson Bennett: Smart made it clear he believes in Bennett, even after a 10-of-19 passing performance that netted 161 yards with a TD pass and 2 interceptions. Bennett showed off his scrambling skills, but he also had an intentional grounding that likely cost Georgia points.
Jack Podlesny: Podlesny has not shown the same sort of consistency as a season ago, missing a field goal that could have staked UGA out to an early lead. The same thing happened in the marquee opener against Clemson. Podlesny hit two other field goals and seems to be in no danger of losing his job.
Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint: Rosemy-Jacksaint had a dropped pass that might have helped Bennett gain some momentum. Slowed by an ankle injury, Rosemy-Jacksaint still looks to show he can become a go-to target at the X-position. Rosemy-Jacksaint has 3 catches for 31 yards this season.
Jermaine Burton: Burton played, but once again, he did not have a catch or play a substantial role. Burton was expected to be the leading receiver once George Pickens suffered a torn ACL, but he has struggled through a series of injuries and has 13 catches for 224 yards through the first eight games.