Florida-Georgia outlook: Bulldogs trending up, Gators trending down entering their 99th meeting

Garry Smits
Florida Times-Union
Georgia linebacker Channing Tindall knocks the helmet off South Carolina wide receiver Dakereon Joyner during their game earlier this season.

There's no question which way the Georgia Bulldogs and Florida Gators are trending entering their 99th meeting overall and 88th in Jacksonville on Oct. 30 at TIAA Bank Field. 

The Dawgs (7-0, 5-0) are No. 1 in the nation after thumping previously unbeaten Kentucky 30-13 in their last game on Oct. 16 and might not have peaked yet. The Gators (4-3, 2-3) dropped out of the rankings following their wild 49-42 loss at LSU on the same day and will lose four games for the first time under coach Dan Mullen if they can't somehow regroup against UGA. 

More:Gene Frenette: Losing to Kentucky likely more costly for LSU's Orgeron than Gators' Dan Mullen

More:What the ESPN analysts in Athens said ahead of the Georgia-Kentucky matchup

And there is a clear-cut storyline that will play out: can Florida move the ball on coach Kirby Smart's Georgia defense, which was first in the nation in total defense as of Oct. 22 (allowing 208.4 yards per game), first in scoring defense (allowing 6.56 points per game), first in pass defense (allowing 144.9 yards per game) and second in rushing defense (allowing 63.6 yards per game). 

Florida is ninth in the nation in total offense (501.7 yards per game) and fifth in rushing offense (254.3 yards per game). But Mullen can't seem to decide between quarterbacks Emory Jones and Anthony Richardson and the Gators haven't faced this defense. 

Georgia is led by a front seven that is fast, mobile and mean and has perhaps the best group of linebackers in the nation, led by Channing Tindall, Adam Anderson and Nakobe Dean. 

Georgia makes plays from all over the field. Twenty players have combined for 44.5 tackles for losses and 13 have combined for 25 sacks, tied for sixth in the nation. 

Anthony Richardson (15) is the likely starter for the Florida Gators against Georgia on Oct. 30.

Consider nose tackle Jalen Carter. He has six tackles for losses and 17 quarterback hits, and doesn't even start. 

The defense includes cornerback Ameer Speed, a Sandalwood graduate, who is likely to be covering at some points, UF senior wide receiver Rick Wells, a Raines graduate. 

Georgia's offense hasn't been shabby either, with quarterback Stetson Bennett putting up solid numbers. He's 4 yards away from passing for 1,000 this season, has 11 touchdown passes against two interceptions, is completing .695 of his passes and has a passer rating of 210.93. An offensive line that has only two seniors on the two-deep depth chart, left tackle Jamaree Salyer and left guard Justin Shaffer, has allowed only four sacks and the Dawgs are gaining 4.8 yards per rush. 

The tale of two teams can be told in their last two games: Georgia gave up 13 points against the Wildcats that matched the season-high by an opponent, for a total of 46 points allowed this season. Florida yielded 49 points against LSU alone. 

The Dawgs as No. 1 

Georgia enters the game as the No. 1-ranked team in the nation for only the second time ever, and the first time since 1942, when the Bulldogs scored the most lopsided victory in the rivalry, 75-0. 

When Georgia won its only national championship in 1980, the Bulldogs were ranked second entering the game, which it won 26-20 on Lindsay Scott's famous catch-and-run. The Bulldogs have been in the top-five 10 times the week of the game against the Gators, with a 7-3 record (losing three in a row as top-five teams in a four-year span, in 2002, 2003 and 2005 after winning their first six). 

Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett has been efficient for the Bulldogs, with 11 touchdown passes and only two interceptions.

Georgia is 12-3 against the Gators as a ranked team and UF is unranked, 6-2 as a top-10 team and 4-1 as a top-five team. 

Florida's first game against Georgia as the No. 1-ranked team ended rudely with a 24-3 loss in 1985. The Gators dealt with it a bit better in two more games as the top-ranked, winning 47-7 in 1996 and 41-17 in 2009. 

Whose record is right? 

Georgia claims it beat Florida 52-0 on Oct. 15 of 1904 in Macon 

Florida doesn't dispute the fact that the Bulldogs won a game that day. But for more than 100 years, the Gators have shrugged their collective shoulders and said, "wasn't us." 

Georgia actually played the Florida Agricultural College in Lake City on that day, one of what the University of Florida calls four "predecessor institutions." What is considered the current incarnation of the University of Florida in Gainesville was established by the state legislature in 1905 with the Buckman Act, and its first football team was formed in 1906. 

Florida considers the first game against Georgia to be in 1915, a 39-0 loss. 

This is why Florida claims Georgia's edge in the series is 52-44-2, while the Bulldogs are rather insistent that it's 53-44-2. 

Those going by Georgia's records will view this game as a milestone: the 100th meeting. As far as the University of Florida is concerned, it's the 99th. 

As Georgia sports historian Dan Magill once wrote about the 1904 game: "That's where Florida was back then. We can't help it if they got run out of Lake City." 

Anniversary days 

What happened in past Florida-Georgia games celebrating anniversaries this year: 

75 years ago: An upset-minded Gator team took an unexpected 7-6 halftime lead over the heavily-favored Bulldogs but John Donaldson ran for one touchdown and caught a pass from Charley Trippi for another score as the Bulldogs rallied for a 33-14 victory. Trippi ran for 93 yards, completed all seven of his passes for 126 yards and completed a rare hat trick: he scored touchdowns running and receiving (catching the TD pass from John Rauch), and passed for one. 

50 years ago: Mixon Anderson returned a John Reaves interception for a touchdown and quarterback James Ray threw for 127 yards, ran for 43 and accounted for touchdowns both ways in a 49-7 victory for Georgia. 

40 years ago: When Georgia fans talk about "The Drive," this is what they mean -- 17 plays, 95 yards, 7:46 of clock time and ending with Herschel Walker's leap over the line at the 1 for the winning touchdown in the Dogs' 26-21 victory. Walker gained 64 yards on 11 carries and had the ball for the last five plays. It was his fourth touchdown and he had 47 carries for 197 yards and caught six passes for 82 yards. 

Georgia's Herschel Walker pounded the Gators defense into submission in the 1981 game.

30 years ago: Shane Matthews threw for 303 yards and four touchdowns as the Gators rolled to a 45-13 victory. It was the second in a row for coach Steve Spurrier and marked the first winning streak for Florida over Georgia since 1962-63. 

25 years ago: The series returned to Jacksonville after two years on the respective campus stadiums but the song remained the same -- the top-ranked Gators won 47-7 as Danny Wuerffel threw for 279 yards and four touchdowns. Florida led 34-0 at halftime and went on to beat Georgia for the seventh time in a row, scoring 40 or more points for the fourth time in six meetings. 

20 years ago: Spurrier wrapped up his domination of the Bulldogs with a 24-10 victory as Rex Grossman threw for 407 yards and two touchdowns, and scored another. Spurrier left Florida after the season and finished with an 11-1 record against Georgia. 

10 years ago: Georgia rallied from a 17-3 deficit late in the second quarter to win 24-20. Aaron Murray threw two touchdown passes and Richard Samuel scored the winning touchdown with 13:18 left in the game on a 4-yard run. The Bulldogs forced two punts and a turnover on loss of downs on Florida's final three possession, with Jarvis Jones sacking John Brantley on fourth-and-10 at the Georgia 41. The 'Dogs kept the ball the remainder of the game, thanks to an 18-yard pass from Murray to Chris Conley, and a pass interference call on Marcus Roberson. 

Florida-Georgia records by city 

Jacksonville: Georgia, 46-41-1 

Athens: Georgia 4-1. 

Gainesville: Tied 1-1. 

Savannah: Florida 1-0-1. 

Tampa: Georgia 1-0. 

Macon: Georgia 1-0* 

*-Disputed by Florida. 

Total series record: Georgia 53-44-2 (per Georgia records); Georgia 52-44-2 (per Florida records). 

The Florida-Georgia football game has been in Jacksonville on a continuous basis (except for 1994 and 1995) since 1933.

Florida-Georgia by the numbers 

1: Georgia's ranking in the polls entering the game. 

1-0: Georgia's record in the game as the No. 1-ranked team. 

2-1: Florida's record as the No. 1-ranked team. 

4: Florida shutouts over Georgia (last, 27-0 in 1984). 

11: UF coach Steve Spurrier's victories against Georgia, with only one loss. 

15: Georgia shutouts over Florida (last, 44-0 in 1982). 

17: UGA coach Vince Dooley's victories against Florida, with seven losses and a tie. 

17.2: Average points per game in the series by Florida. 

19.6: Average points per game in the series by Georgia. 

20: Each team has won 20 one-possession games. 

39.6: Average points per game by the Gators against Georgia in the Spurrier era. 

46: Points allowed by Georgia this season, 6.5 per game. 

49: Points given up by Florida against LSU last week. 

85: Florida-Georgia games in Jacksonville since the series went to the city on a permanent basis in 1933. 

88: Florida-Georgia games in Jacksonville. 

99: This year will be the 99th Florida-Georgia game, according to Florida records. 

100: This year will be the 100th Florida-Georgia game, according to Georgia records.

Georgia's 2021 season

Beat Clemson 10-3

Beat Alabama-Birmingham 56-7

Beat South Carolina 40-13

Beat Vanderbilt 62-0

Beat Arkansas 37-0

Beat Auburn 34-10

Beat Kentucky 30-13

Florida's 2021 season

Beat Florida Atlantic 35-14

Beat South Florida 42-20

Lost to Alabama 31-29

Beat Tennessee 38-14

Lost to Kentucky 20-13

Beat Vanderbilt 42-0

Lost to LSU 49-42