FOOTBALL

Abolverdi's Analysis: Gators will play UGA close, run out of gas

Zach Abolverdi
Gator Sports

It's Florida Georgia week and the Gators should have nothing to lose

Florida has seemingly played to its opponent’s level — up or down — over the past three seasons. 

The Gators beat No. 7 Auburn in 2019 and lost close games to No. 8 Georgia and fifth-ranked LSU, the eventual national champion. However, they also opened that season with a four-point win over a 6-7 Miami team and needed a 21-point fourth quarter to outlast a South Carolina squad that went 4-8.

The Gators defeated No. 5 Georgia last season, lost by three points to a Texas A&M team that finished No. 4 and were the only team to play a one-score game with No. 1 Alabama, the eventual national champion. Florida also lost inexplicably at home to 5-5 LSU.

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Once again this year, UF played the top-ranked Tide extremely tight and then fell to a Tigers team that had already canned its coach. The 49-42 loss in Death Valley dropped the Gators out of the polls and killed their SEC East hopes. 

More importantly, it killed their confidence as a team and program. 

The coaches are feeling the heat, the players are feeling the pressure and some recruits are abandoning ship. The Gators needed the bye week to circle the wagons and reassess their personnel, particularly at quarterback and on defense. 

For the third time in 11 months, Florida is once again a two-touchdown underdog against the No. 1 team after Alabama was favored by 16 points in Atlanta and 14 in Gainesville. 

Georgia is a 14-point favorite Saturday, but if recent history tells us anything, the Gators will play up to their opponent’s level and likely cover the spread. The UF players are jacked for this game as they try to spoil Georgia’s ranking, and Dan Mullen should have some new wrinkles with Anthony Richardson. 

I expect defensive coordinator Todd Grantham to call a better game with his job on the line, and the Gators won’t give up 300-plus yards rushing. However, offensive turnovers and/or three-and-outs will put Grantham’s unit in some bad spots, and Florida won’t be able to score enough points against this elite Georgia defense. 

Prediction: Georgia 31, Florida 21