1. The East is Georgia's to lose: After being counted out heading into their big matchup with Florida, the Bulldogs are now atop the East again. That brutal loss to South Carolina appears to be nothing more than a distant memory in Athens. All those "for sale" signs fans gathered for Mark Richt's house will have to be used for more constructive means after Georgia topped Florida 17-9. The win didn't clinch the East for the Bulldogs, but they are firmly in the driver's seat with Ole Miss and Auburn as their only remaining SEC opponents. The Rebels are much better than they've been in two years, but Georgia likely will be a heavy favorite in that game, while Auburn continues to stumble along this season. House money is on Georgia to take the East, and if the defense feeds off its performance Saturday, the Bulldogs should cruise into Atlanta.
Kevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesAJ McCarron was efficient Saturday in throwing for 208 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
3. Florida needs more playmakers: The Gators have lived and died by running and smothering. But Saturday proved that if Florida is really going to rub elbows with the elites in college football, it has to find more offensive playmakers. Running back Mike Gillislee has been good, but he needs help from the passing game because teams are starting to crowd the box to key on him. Right now, tight end Jordan Reed is the only real reliable receiving target. Ironically, his fourth-quarter fumble sealed the Gators' fate against Georgia, but at least he was there to make some sort of play happen. Wide receivers Quinton Dunbar and Frankie Hammond Jr. have been wildly inconsistent, while utility man Trey Burton just hasn't been very effective since the Tennessee game. Jeff Driskel will take a lot of heat for his critical errors and turnovers on Saturday, but he wasn't getting much help. Someone has to emerge to take the pressure off Driskel and Gillislee.
Here are the good and the bad from the loss at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Fla.:
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UF’s chance to clinch the SEC’s Eastern Division title fell apart because of six turnovers, including one that wiped out the potential game-tying touchdown. It marked the first time since 1987-89 that Georgia won back-to-back games in the series and now the Bulldogs control their own destiny in the division race.
But Evans was more concerned about what’s going to happen on Monday than what had just happened at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Fla.
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Well after Aaron Murray’s final kneel-down and Florida fans had cleared their side of EverBank Field, Mark Richt tried to absorb every moment he could before such a special night had to end.
He spent nearly 15 minutes on the field, clapping and cheering as he hiked from midfield to both end zones to acknowledge the handful of Georgia fans who stuck around to celebrate into the night.
He was ready to put them on his back and carry them to The Landing, but he would have had to make room for his defense first. The unit deserved a real victory lap.
After hearing the word “soft” basically become synonymous with Georgia’s defense, the Bulldog defenders put Georgia directly into the SEC Eastern Division driver’s seat with a dominating performance against a Florida team that had prided itself on pounding opponents with its running game.
All that soft talk quickly vanished after the Bulldogs repeatedly left the Gators’ offense in reverse and forced six turnovers in Georgia’s 17-9 victory. The defense felt disrespected this week and was out to prove that it was ready to do all the pushing Saturday.
“As a man, you’re going to take the personally,” linebacker Jarvis Jones said of Georgia’s defense being labeled as soft. “I took it personally, they took it personally. We came out here to show everybody that we have a great defense and we can execute and be one of those teams leading the nation in defense.”
This all started with senior safety Shawn Williams calling the defense’s play soft after that lackluster win over Kentucky. He was right, and every talking head on just about every sports platform backed him up and expanded on Georgia’s softness.
The main storyline that will come out of this year's edition of the Georgia-Florida rivalry is ugliness. Saturday's four-hour marathon was a grinding affair of turnovers and penalties -- an absurd amount of both of them. But it's safe to say nobody wearing red and black will care much, as the Bulldogs slogged their way to a 17-9 win -- their first back-to-back wins against Florida since 1988-89 -- and pole position in the SEC East championship race.
Here's how it played out in Jacksonville, Fla.:
It was over when: Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones stripped Florida tight end Jordan Reed on the Bulldogs' 5-yard line with two minutes to play. Georgia recovered in its own end zone and subsequently ran the clock out. The turnover denied the Gators an opportunity at a first-and-goal and a potential game-tying touchdown and two-point conversion.
Game ball goes to: Much was made of how badly the Bulldogs needed Jones to step up after he missed the narrow win against Kentucky. Suffice to say Jones got the memo. He almost single-handedly mauled the Florida offense, as he finished with 13 tackles, 3 sacks, 2 forced fumbles and 2 fumble recoveries. It was only fitting that Jones made the play that preserved the win.
Key play: The Georgia passing game delivered one of its only big moments when it absolutely had to, at the midpoint of the fourth quarter. Aaron Murray beat a Florida blitz on third-and-5 to find wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell on a 7-yard curl route. Mitchell shook off Florida cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy and beat three other tacklers on the way to a 45-yard touchdown and a 17-9 lead. Mitchell's big moment came just two plays after he was hit with a costly unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
Key play part II: Trailing 7-6, Florida faced a second-and-goal from the Georgia 5-yard line with 17 seconds until halftime. The Gators had the opportunity to take a lead with either a touchdown or a field goal, but Driskel rolled to his right and fired across his body into end zone traffic. Georgia safety Bacarri Rambo nabbed it for an interception to preserve the Bulldogs' slim advantage. It was perhaps the most costly of Driskel's mistakes in an uncharacteristic game for the young quarterback.
Key stat: The game saw a staggering total of nine turnovers -- six by the Gators, three by the Bulldogs. Georgia converted just 1 of 11 third downs. Perhaps the most amazing stat: The referees threw a total of 24 flags during the 60 minutes of game play. Georgia drew 14 flags for 132 yards; Florida earned 10 for 95 yards.
Key stat part II: Florida entered the game averaging 212 rushing yards per game. Georgia's defense limited the Gators to just 81 yards on 41 carries, while Bulldogs running back Todd Gurley racked up 124 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries.
What it means: The Bulldogs now become the favorite to claim a second consecutive SEC East title and advance to the SEC championship game in Atlanta. All is not lost for Florida, however. The Bulldogs must still face Ole Miss next week, and their annual rivalry game against Auburn comes on the road in two weeks. If the Gators can hold serve against Missouri, there is still some hope of a division title.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- This has always been a special rivalry, but it will be even more exciting with the SEC Eastern Division at stake.
You already know the storyline: Florida wins and it is headed to Atlanta. Georgia wins and the Bulldogs control the East.
Many thought Georgia would be in position to take the East, but few thought the Gators would be in this position. Something about second-year coaches at Florida.
I'm curious to see how Georgia's defense comes out today. Senior safety Shawn Williams called the defense's play soft this week, then named which players should be playing more at linebacker. I know the coaches hope it motivates players, but some guys were really upset with Williams airing out his issues publicly.
Was he right about this unit being soft? Yeah, but he probably should have said his piece in the locker room.
These teams really don't like each other. When the Gators ran out onto the field, some of the Georgia players started jawing with some Florida players. There was some pushing and shoving, and it looked like one of Florida's assistants was yelling at a Georgia assistant.
The stadium is split and kickoff is here. Should be good one!
Hill interviewed twice with Clemson officials but told them Friday he would remain at Florida.
"I decided it’s best for me to stay a Gator," Hill told GatorNation Saturday afternoon.
Clemson AD Terry Don Phillips has announced he will retire at or before the end of his contract, which expires at the end of July 2013.
There's a big party going on outside the stadium, and there figures to be a pretty big one inside here shortly.
This is one of the great rivalries in college football, and the SEC East is at stake today. Florida takes the division with a win, while the Bulldogs are firmly in the driver's seat with a victory. Both teams despise each other, so just imagine the emotions that will be flowing for the winner.
The weather will be interesting to monitor today. Hurricane Sandy is slowly moving up the East Coast, and it's bringing some pretty strong wind gusts through Jacksonville. That could be a bad thing for both quarterbacks, so expect to see a lot of running for both squads. Florida's been excellent running the ball this season, while the Bulldogs have really struggled stopping the run game in the past few games.
For the first time in a while, the Gators have the pressure on them, while the Bulldogs are up against the wall again. Florida hasn't been in this situation in two years, and Georgia worked its way out of an 0-2 start last season. It'll be interesting to see how both sides handle today.
The Georgia fans haven't shown a ton of confidence around here, but one die-hard fan is hoping that luck and history are on his side. Blake Nealey showed up today in an aged red polo covered with little Bulldog heads and Georgia G's. When he wears the shirt to a Georgia game, the Bulldogs are 6-1, with that lone loss coming against Auburn in 2010.
Cam Newton was in charge of that Auburn team, and he isn't in the building today ...
Edward Aschoff points out that Jarvis Jones will be the key player in the annual Florida-Georgia rivalry in Jacksonville, Fla.
Aschoff and Chris Low break down Florida-Georgia and much more in their weekly SEC podcast. Listen here
The Florida Gators men's basketball team opened at No. 10 in the preseason AP poll released Friday. Meanwhile, at SEC basketball media day, the Gators were picked as the league's runner up with five first-place votes compared to Kentucky's 17. Here is Blue Ribbon's in-depth preview of Florida.
Andy Katz and Jimmy Dykes preview the Southeastern Conference at media day. In his SEC notebook, Katz says Florida is elite again under Billy Donovan.
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-- Eamonn Brennan's Three Big Things on Florida
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-- Jay Bilas answers five burning questions for the conference
-- Our staff of writers gather to answer questions at the SEC roundtable
-- Myron Medcalf rates and analyzes the nonconference schedules of the SEC
-- Dave Telep identifies the top freshmen and potential recruits in the SEC
-- ESPN.com's Summer Shootaround preview of the SEC
-- Chad Ford on the SEC's best NBA draft prospects
-- For more SEC coverage in the Nation blog, click here.
#BlueChipBattles is the Twitter hashtag to use if you want to voice your opinion on our list or to view other fans' reactions as the commitments begin to roll in. Get recruiting updates on the players above as well as the nation's other top football prospects here: @RecruitingESPN.
David Ching writes : No. 10 Georgia has one loss, but with a win against No. 2 Florida in Jacksonville on Saturday, the Bulldogs will move into first place in the SEC East.
Ching writes: Georgia already has 24 plays that have gone for 30 yards or more. That’s already more big plays than the Bulldogs had in 14 games last season.