Slow your celebration, Georgia fans.
Keep the champagne corked. Avoid bags of confetti. Cut the smack talk directed south.
Planning for the SEC Championship Game, Dawg Nation? Picturing marvelous things after a 4-0 start and a mashing of Mississippi State?
Florida has something to say about that, thank you very much.
After Saturday, it’s clear the Gators are the Bulldogs’ biggest threat in the SEC East.
Oh, anyone who tells you otherwise is either delusional or a Butch Jones Truther. The showdown between Georgia and Florida on Oct. 28 in Jacksonville can’t arrive soon enough. Everything else that happens within the division will be background noise as the Gators try to make a third straight appearance in Atlanta and the Bulldogs attempt to return for the first time since 2012.
Kentucky? Cursed against Florida.
South Carolina? Flailing without wide receiver/kick returner Deebo Samuel.
Vanderbilt? Stuck to the bottom of Nick Saban’s shoe.
Tennessee? Clinging to a self-made certificate that says, “Champions of Life.”
Look, Florida isn’t perfect. The Gators have worked through messes in this young season. The offense should come with a surgeon general’s warning. And the late-game dramatics are enough to make anyone in orange and blue search for a wig after all the pulled hair that comes with a typical Saturday following Jim McElwain’s team.
But watch your backs, Bulldogs people.
After all, the latest rabbit pulled from McElwain’s top hat on Saturday during a 28-27 victory in Lexington shows Florida knows how to find a way, somehow, when given the chance to lead late. There’s pixie dust sprinkled within McElwain’s headset.
How else do you explain the crazy voodoo that went down at Kroger Field after the Gators’ 13-point fourth-quarter deficit? How else do you describe the Hail Mary heave from Feleipe Franks to Tyrie Cleveland against Tennessee after the offense looked as effective as a one-wheeled big rig?
Stay alert, Georgia fans.
True, the Bulldogs look incredible. The Gators don’t have much room for error in their chase. Georgia found an offensive spark plug in quarterback Jake Fromm, who has been awesome while throwing for 650 yards with 7 touchdowns and 1 interception. The Bulldogs defense looked stellar against Mississippi State while bottling up quarterback Nick Fitzgerald and company during a 31-3 stomping. Georgia is legit.
But don’t count out the ability of Florida’s defense to create chances while the Gators offense tries to find itself. Plus, it remains to be seen how Fromm will respond when pushed late against stingy SEC resistance. Florida could provide that test.
Frankly, no one else will. Georgia’s victory against Mississippi State served as a warning shot to the rest of the conference that Kirby Smart’s team is a legitimate top-10 squad. If you think anyone else in the SEC East outside Gainesville will manage more than minor pushback, keep believing in Santa Claus. The tooth fairy will visit you soon, too.
But Florida’s threat to Georgia is no fairytale.
The Gators, and the Gators alone, can keep the Bulldogs home on Dec. 2.