Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

SEC, National Titles Possibly on Line in Today's Big Game

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

SEC, National Titles Possibly on Line in Today's Big Game

Article excerpt

Byline: Brent Beaird

It's finally here. Georgia vs. Florida kicks off this afternoon. This game has actually lived up to the preseason hype with SEC title and BCS national championship implications.

The winner is the clear favorite to represent its division in the SEC title game. Georgia is No. 6 in the BCS rankings and Florida is No. 8. In this week's AP poll, Florida is No. 5 and Georgia is No. 8, the highest combined rankings of the two teams since 1983, when Georgia was No. 4 and Florida was No. 9. Florida and Georgia own the best records in the SEC over the past 10 years. Georgia is 104-31 and Florida is 99-35.

Let's put this to rest. Florida didn't lose the game last year because of Georgia's end-zone celebration after the first Bulldog touchdown. Coach Urban Meyer said his team lost the game because they couldn't protect quarterback Tim Tebow, coverage broke down in the secondary and the defense didn't tackle well. Meyer admitted that Florida was a much more selfish team last year. This year they are more unified and the defense is light years ahead of 2007.

Still, the "gag order" put on both teams not to discuss the celebration is silly. Let the players talk. What are they going to say that can inflame this rivalry any further?

Enjoy two of the most heralded quarterbacks in SEC history dueling each other. Georgia's Matthew Stafford and Florida's Tim Tebow are a combined 39-10 in their careers. Tebow is 15-5 and Stafford is 24-5. In those 39 wins, the pair has thrown 68 touchdowns and 22 interceptions. Tebow is first and Stafford is second in pass efficiency. Stafford might have played his best game last Saturday at LSU. He was in complete control of the offense and made the Tigers pay for their blitzing.

What are the keys to the game? Georgia needs to establish the run early with Knowshon Moreno. It will be tough because Florida is No. 3 in the SEC in rushing defense, allowing 102 yards per game. Georgia is even stingier allowing only 76 yards rushing per game. Yet, Georgia allowed its first 100-yard rusher last week (Charles Scott 144 yards and two scores) and Tiger quarterbacks Jarrett Lee and Andrew Hatch threw for 309 yards and three scores. …

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