The No. 14 Florida Gators (6-1, 4-1 SEC) made sure they would end the day in first place in the hotly contested SEC East with a 24-10 victory over Georgia (4-4, 2-4 SEC). It is Florida’s third straight win (and third straight double-digit victory) against Georgia in the series.
The game was not particularly enjoyable to watch for many, as the defenses took advantage of some sloppy offensive play on both sides. Georgia managed to get just 164 yards of offense and went 4-for-14 on third down. Florida’s offense did not fare that much better, with fewer than 250 yards of offense and a turnover. Luke Del Rio completed 15-of-25 attempts for 131 yards and a touchdown (and an interception on the opening series of the game). Georgia’s freshman Jacob Eason had an even longer afternoon, completing 15-of-33 attempts for 143 yards. Florida really clamped down on Georgia’s running game, limiting Nick Chubb to 20 yards on nine rushing attempts. The Bulldogs rushed for just 21 yards in the game.
Florida held a 14-10 lead at halftime and expanded their lead in the third quarter on an Antonio Callaway touchdown run. From there, Florida could keep Georgia at a distance with a few punts and turnovers on downs the rest of the way.
With the win, Florida remains on top of the SEC East standings with a one-game lead in the loss column on Kentucky and Tennessee. Florida also owns a head-to-head tiebreaker with Kentucky, but not with Tennessee. Florida may have a small buffer, but the Gators also may have the most difficult remaining SEC schedule among the SEC East contenders. Florida plays at Arkansas next week and now had a mid-November game at LSU that was rescheduled from earlier this season (which was originally a home game for the Gators).
Georgia is now eliminated from being able to win the SEC East with four conference losses, so the sights will be on trying to finish strongly to improve whatever bowl opportunities will be available. Georgia can throw a wrinkle in Kentucky’s SEC East hopes next week in Lexington before closing out SEC play at home against Auburn in two weeks. Georgia’s final three games of the season will all be at home, starting with Auburn and finishing with UL-Lafayette and ACC rival Georgia Tech.
Jordan Scarlett‘s late second quarter touchdown gave Florida a 14-10 lead on SEC East rival Georgia. That’s where things stand at halftime in Jacksonville in a pivotal SEC East Division game (made even more critical following Kentucky’s win at Missouri earlier this afternoon).
Florida quarterback Luke Del Rio got the game off to an ugly start for the Gators with a poorly thrown ball against his body to the middle of the field for an early turnover. Georgia’s Dominick Sanders came up with the easy interception and returned it 31 yards to the Florida 25-yard line. Florida’s defense answered the early call by holding Georgia to a short field goal by Rodrigo Blankenship.
Florida took the lead late in the first quarter when C'yontai Lewis got his hands on a 19-yard touchdown pass from Del Rio, making up for his earlier error. The 7-3 lead did not last long, as Georgia answered with a touchdown of their own on the ensuing possession. Riley Ridley caught a 14-yard pass from Jacob Eason to put the Bulldogs up 10-7 early in the second quarter.
If Georgia wins, Kentucky will own sole possession of first place in the SEC East with just two SEC games left to play for the Wildcats. Kentucky gets Georgia at home next week, followed by a road game at Tennessee. Florida owns a head-to-head win against Georgia from earlier in the year.
The story of September for No. 23 Ole Miss (2-2, 1-1 SEC) had been the inability to keep its foot on the gas pedal once it jumped out to a sizable lead against a quality opponent. Whether it was a lesson learned or the mere fact that No. 12 Georgia (3-1, 1-1 SEC) was over-ranked heading in, the Rebels did not let up Saturday afternoon in Oxford. Ole Miss built a 17-0 lead in the first quarter, took a 31-0 lead into the halftime break and went on to demolish Georgia, 45-14.
Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly was able to get an early rest after one extremely productive first half. Before Hugh Freeze handed the offense to backups quarterbacks, Kelly completed 16 of 21 passes for 264 yards and two touchdowns. The ball was distributed pretty well between the running and passing games as well. Eight different players caught a pass for Ole Miss, and seven different Rebels carried the football at least once. Kelly took off four times for 53 yards and a touchdown in addition to his efficient day through the air.
Georgia’s running duo of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel rushed for a combined 123 yards, but neither scored a touchdown before the game started to get out of hand and away from Georgia’s strength. The early hole meant Georgia had to try and catch up through the air, with freshman quarterback Jacob Eason having a rough afternoon on the road. Eason completed 16 of 36 pass attempts for 137 yards and an interception, and a number of dropped passes.
Georgia will return home and hope the momentum is quick to swing back in its favor next week. The Bulldogs play a pivotal SEC East contest against Tennessee. The Vols are playing an important SEC East game today against Florida. Georgia may need a win at home to bounce back, with games at South Carolina and at home against Vanderbilt following before a bye week. After the bye week comes the annual game in Jacksonville against Florida. How Kirby Smart gets his team to come back next week with Eason will be key as Georgia looks to prove this loss was a bit of a fluke.
There was certainly nothing flukey about it though, as Ole Miss showed what they can do when they play a complete game. For the first time this season, Ole Miss did not get tired against a physical opponent and continued to make plays all afternoon to lock down the win. This was one Ole Miss needed to have after the way this month has played out thus far. Next up for Ole Miss is a bit of a revenge game at home next week against Memphis of the American Athletic Conference. The Tigers stunned Ole Miss last season with Paxton Lynch at quarterback and Justin Fuente coaching. Both have moved on from Memphis (Lynch to the NFL, Fuente to Virginia Tech), so the Tigers will have their work cut out for them if they are to pull the stunner once more. Ole Miss will be a prohibitive favorite and get a chance to get to the bye week with a winning record before heading to Arkansas and then to LSU before returning home to play Auburn.
The first quarter today in Oxford, Mississippi went about as expected for anyone who has watched Ole Miss play a football this season. The Rebels jumped all over Georgia with a 17-0 first quarter advantage, doubling the offensive production of the Bulldogs and forcing a turnover and returning it for a score. Of course, what happens after building a double-digit lead is what has been the story of the season for Ole Miss this season, with two blown double-digit leads resulting in losses against Florida State and Alabama. At the half, Ole Miss leads Georgia by a score of 31-0, and even they may be able to hold on to this one.
The Rebels opened the scoring at home on their first offensive possession by settling for a field goal by Gary Wunderlich from 24-yards out. The defense would be responsible for the first touchdown of the afternoon when Derrick Jones stepped in front of a pass from freshman quarterback Jacob Eason and returned it down the left sideline for a 52-yard pick-six and a 10-0 lead. The Ole Miss offense would get in gear the next time they held the football by driving 84 yards on 10 plays for a touchdown. D’Vaughn Pennamon picked up the goal-line touchdown to cap a drive highlighted by a 37-yard pass from Chad Kelly to Evan Engram from the Ole Miss 42-yard line.
Kelly would step away form a defender and unload a 55-yard touchdown pass to DaMarkus Lodge in the second quarter to extend the lead to 24-0. The lead was pushed to 31-0 when Kelly connected with Engram inside the 10-yard line late in the first half. Kelly has completed 13-of-17 pass attempts for 233 yards and two touchdowns. Meanwhile, Eason has completed just seven of 21 attempts for 64 yards. It hasn’t helped that Georgia receivers have had a knack for dropping passes that would help bail Eason out at times, especially in the second quarter.
Georgia has converted just one third down out of 10 (although they have gone two-for-three on fourth down). Ole Miss has out-gained Georgia 323-186. If you think Georgia has Ole Miss right where they want them based on prior results this season, keep in mind that both Florida State and Alabama managed to snatch the momentum right before halftime against Ole Miss. That did not happen this afternoon for the Georgia, who is well on its way to the firts loss under heard coach Kirby Smart.
New Georgia head coach Kirby Smart managed to pick up a bit of good news on Tuesday. Class of 2016 quarterback Jacob Eason announced he will remain committed to the University of Georgia and join the Bulldogs in 2016. Eason was also named the Gatorade National Football Player of the Year on Tuesday. It was quite an eventful day for the young quarterback.
Eason is the nation’s top-ranked pro-style quarterback in the nation according to Rivals, and he is the top recruit in the state of Washington and sixth best overall player in the nation. He had originally committed to Georgia when Mark Richt was the head coach in June 2014, but once Richt was forced out as head coach Eason’s status was thought to be in mild danger with the Bulldogs. Eason made a trip out to Athens to check out the scene once again at Georgia and flew home to discuss the situation with his family once more before making any final decision. Eason reportedly chose to stick with Georgia over rising contenders Florida and Washington.
“He said he had a great time down there,” Tom Tri, Eason’s high school football coach, said. “He got meet with the offensive coordinator (Jim Chaney) and Coach Smart and a couple of players. He said he had a great visit. He wanted to sleep on it after talking to mom and dad.”
Eason may have a chance to come right in and compete for a starting job under Smart. Georgia’s quarterback situation has bit a bit unstable the past couple of seasons, with plenty of room for improvement.