The game formerly known as “The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party” is among college football’s most festive atmospheres. Unfortunately for Georgia fans, most of their celebrating has been done before the game in recent years.
What are the chances that changes on Saturday?
The betting experts in Las Vegas say the odds are slim. Florida has been more than a touchdown favorite for most of the week. That line is supported by the fact that the Gators (5-1) have a much better record than the 4-3 mark UGA brings with it to Jacksonville, Fla. — a town apparently now known as “River City.”
However, in this case the win-loss records and the point spread might be misleading.
The Bulldogs are certainly an underdog for a reason, but they might be an underdog capable of showing some teeth — especially in one key area.
For all the talk regarding UGA’s position groups that have failed to meet expectations, the Bulldogs’ rush defense is quietly putting together a good season. UGA stands third in the SEC in rushing yards allowed (111.14 per game).
The success on defense has been largely propelled by a couple of interior defensive stars. According to Pro Football Focus, UGA defensive tackle Trent Thompson is the SEC’s fourth-rated player at his position and Bulldogs inside linebacker Roquan Smith is listed as the SEC’s No. 2 linebacker based on the site’s film study.
If Thompson, Smith and the rest of the UGA defense can stop a Gators ground attack that ranks only ninth in the SEC in rushing yards (181.83 per game), the Bulldogs’ chances of earning a victory are better than many probably assume. As SEC Country’s Zach Abolverdi wrote earlier in the week, the team with the most rushing yards has won in this series each of the last 10 years.
If that stat holds true again then no one should be surprised if UGA finds a way to win, and no one should be surprised if the Bulldogs fans — who’ve long been known for turning this game into a party before kickoff — have plenty of reason to keep the festivities going after the game as well.
Whatever your post game plans are, don’t forget to include DawgNation’s Papa John’s post game show on Facebook Live in them. For a preview of this Saturday’s show, watch the video above.