As originally posted here.
The 22nd ranked Georgia Bulldogs (5-2, 4-1 SEC) and Florida Gators (4-3, 2-3 SEC) travel to Everbank Field in Jacksonville, FL in this pivotal SEC matchup. The Gators will have the services of quarterback John Brantley, who is returning from his ankle injury he suffered against no. 3 Alabama in their 38-10 loss four weeks ago.
The Gators haven’t recovered since dropping the next two. Prior to the Alabama game, the Gators were ranked no. 12 in the AP poll. Brantley will try to lead the Gators in avoiding its longest losing streak in 23 years. Their best chance might be against the Bulldogs, having won 18 out of their last 21 matchups, but it by means not an easy task as the Bulldogs are riding a five-game winning streak.
Here is a look at three keys of the game:
1.) Is John Brantley 100%?
Brantley returned to practice on Monday and his presence was certainly missed. Brantley passed for 942 yards, five touchdowns and posted a 64.7 completion percentage through five games. In his absence, his backups, Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskell completed 50 percent of their passes for 228 yards, one touchdown and matching his interceptions at three.
The last time the Gators suffered a three-game slide last season, the Gators defeated the Bulldogs 34-31 in overtime with Brantley at the helm. He completed 16 out of 25 passes for 193 yards and an interception.
2.) Can Georgia keep up momentum? Are they for real?
Georgia currently ranks sixth overall in total defense at 273.0 yards per game, but they will be without defensive starters Kwame Geathers and Shawn Williams for the first half after they were punished by the SEC for incidents in their game against Vanderbilt on Oct. 15.
The Bulldogs five-game winning streak came against teams which are a combined 1-15 in the SEC. Quarterback Aaron Murray is coming off his best career start throwing for 326 yards with three touchdowns against Vanderbilt. His only other 300-yard game came against the Gators last year as he threw three touchdowns and interceptions. A victory against the Gators will help solidify their status in the SEC.
3.) Who will run the ball better?
With Brantley’s return, it will be interesting how this benefits running back Chris Rainey. In Brantley’s absence, Rainey ran for 89 yards on 40 carries over the last three games. Rainey was averaging over 100 yards a game prior to that in his first four games running for a combined 411 yards on 63 carries. Georgia ranks 18th overall in run defense giving up 101.9 yards a game.
Georgia running back Isaiah Crowell ranks fourth in the SEC with 608 rushing yards and has ran for four scores. He faces a Florida run defense that yielded an average 206.3 yards a game during the three-game slide. Florida ranks 32nd overall in rush defense giving up 120.7 yards a game.
Both teams will need this victory. A victory from the Gators will most likely knock the Bulldogs out of ranking and get them back on track. A victory from the Bulldogs legitimizes their standing in the SEC.