As unfathomable as it may seem, the two-touchdown underdog Gators do have a path to victory Saturday in Jacksonville. But it’s a tiny, tight, treacherous one.
Here’s how they can successfully navigate that path:
- Win the turnover margin by at least plus-three. TOs could alter field position, lead to scoring opportunities for the Gators and take away scoring chances for the Bulldogs. And it could severely impact the psyche of a UGA team that prides itself on playing smart and taking care of the football.
- On defense, crowd the line of scrimmage with eight men to slow down tailbacks Nick Chubb and Sony Michel and force true freshman quarterback Jake Fromm into some uncomfortable positions, which he has rarely been in since taking over in the second game. In other words, make the ’Dogs beat you with the true freshman’s arm.
- On offense, hit some plays down the field early in the passing game so the Bulldogs are hesitant to crowd the box with eight defenders, something they often do. The Gators need to set up the run with the pass, sort of like Steve Spurrier used to do in this rivalry. If the Gators can’t pass, they’re definitely not going to be able to run, and it’s going to be another ugly day for Feleipe Franks and the offense. Jim McElwain and Doug Nussmeier have to be on top of their game in terms of helping Franks efficiently manage the offense and sustain time-consuming drives that will keep the defense rested and ready to go in the fourth quarter.
- On special teams, make something big happen. Block a punt. Return a punt for a touchdown. Cause a turnover.
- In the fourth quarter, play with the energy and urgency that was missing in the losses to LSU and Texas A&M.
So, there is a path to victory for the Gators. But it is a very narrow one.
Despite all the recent problems, the Gators are capable of having success in all five areas previously mentioned. But there is no real good reason to believe they will.
Prediction: Georgia 31, Florida 6