The SEC East’s marquee matchup has arrived once again; the Florida Gators will once more travel north to Jacksonville to play the rival Georgia Bulldogs. It’s a game that will likely decide the division and definitively eliminate the loser from College Football Playoff contention, so stakes are as high as ever.
To learn more about the Bulldog team and to preview the matchup this weekend, I talked to Lugnut Dawg of Dawg Sports.
Florida-Georgia is one of the biggest rivalries in all of college sports, and the recent stakes have made the game as big as ever. What does this rivalry mean to you as a Georgia fan?
Lugnut Dawg: Speaking as a South Georgia native, it should never ever move from Jacksonville. Very few games like this have this intensity and atmosphere. Is it a true road game for Georgia? Likely so. But when you play well, knowing you win in spite of that makes it sweeter.
Georgia is 4-1, with big wins over Auburn and Tennessee but a disappointing loss to dominant Alabama. They still hold a clear path to the Playoff and have been in the AP Poll’s top 10 all season. How would you rate the first half of the season?
For most fan bases, there’d be a feeling of high excitement. There’s definitely that when you look at the defense. But when you factor in offensive struggles and losing to Bama, the feeling is that it’s been a good, but not great season.
Kirby Smart was hired to win a championship. Until he does, that 300-pound gorilla will be there.
The defense has been exceptional for the Bulldogs, leading the SEC in yards and points allowed per game. And Georgia’s been an elite defensive team for a while now. What makes this unit so good?
Depth, depth and depth. If you go back to 2012 when Todd Grantham led the defense, the group had talent, but little depth. Now, if a guy is hurt or needs a breather, there’s little worry of dropoff.
The biggest storyline for Georgia has been the play of quarterback Stetson Bennett IV. He wasn’t expected to be the starter by any means, but the former walk-on got his shot and has kept the role. How do you rate his play this season, and do you think he will be the starter by season’s end?
Despite clamoring from fans, Bennett is the guy until he’s not. He may not have the talent, but given the circumstances of Jamie Newman hanging an offensive plan out to dry, he’s the one the staff feels most comfortable with.
Bennett’s had good and bad moments, showing he can win SEC games. Can we do so by placing the game on his shoulders? That remains to be seen.
This Saturday is the game of the season for each of these programs as they both look to take control of the SEC East and keep their College Football Playoff hopes alive. How do you expect this year’s Cocktail Party to play out, and do you have a score prediction?
Look for this one to be a throwback defensive battle. Georgia wins 17-13.
Thank you to Lugnut Dawg and all of the people at Dawg Sports for answering some questions for us. If you want to hear more from him, give a follow on Twitter.