The Florida Gators lost to the Georgia Bulldogs, 43-20, for the third year in a row Saturday in Jacksonville.
The No. 1 Bulldogs (8-0, 5-0 SEC) remain undefeated and keep the top spot in the SEC Eastern division. Things will shift for the Gators (5-3, 3-2) and where they stand in the division, especially after the outcome of the Kentucky and Tennessee game.
This is the 101st matchup between the two teams. However, this is the 91st matchup in Jacksonville. The Bulldogs have won the last two games. Last year, the Florida Gators lost 42-20.
Georgia has lost a key player for this game, TE Brock Bowers, due to an ankle injury. Bowers led the team in receiving yards (567 yards.) While the Gators have some new players on the injury report, none that compare to the impact Georgia has losing Bowers.
Comparing the two QBs, Carson Beck and Graham Mertz, these are neck and neck. Beck is 173 for 235 passes (73.6% completion rate) with 2,147 yards. Beck has 12 touchdowns and threw four interceptions this season. Beck is ranked 14th in the country based on his QBR (80.9.)
Mertz is 170-223 (76.2% completion rate) with 1,897 yards. Mertz also has 12 touchdowns but only threw two interceptions this season. Mertz is ranked 40th in the country based on his QBR (68.9.) These are the two QBs in the SEC eastern conference with the highest completion rates.
The Florida Gators start with an impressive first drive. Scoring a touchdown from Mertz to Eugene Wilson III for 25 yards into the endzone in less than five minutes at the start of the game. The ball then gets overturned to Georgia, where the Bulldogs get into the redzone quickly. However, the Gators’ defense was able to stop the Bulldogs from scoring. Georgia put up three points on the board in their first drive after Peyton Woodring completed a 22-yard field goal kick.
The Bulldogs could not complete a touchdown on the first drive; the Bulldogs changed gears immediately after both on offense and defense. The Gators were unable to get past the pressure from the Georgia defense and make it past the 50-yard line after that first-scoring drive. The Bulldogs forced several fumbles even blocking a punt and receiving a safety. Mertz was sacked several times throughout the first half.
At the beginning of the second half, it looked like the Gators had a chance to come back in the first few drives on defense. Making the Bulldogs turnover the ball immediately on the first drive of the second half, stopping the Bulldogs from scoring a touchdown and forcing a field-goal kick in their second drive. But just like the last half, the Bulldogs would not have it and continue to push the Gators around.
Sometime in the third quarter, the Gators lost their drive again. By the end of the third quarter, the Bulldogs had a 29-point lead. Even though it seemed like there was no hope for Florida, the Gators fought until the last minute. Scoring a few touchdowns in the last quarter, but not enough to bring the Gators back.
— Weiss (@ZackaryWeiss_) October 28, 2023
It was expected for Georgia to stomp all over the Gators on Saturday. In order to beat Georgia, the Gators would’ve had to execute their best football with no mistakes, which the Gators did not—having only a few drives where the Gators made it past the 50-yard line. Also, several big mistakes in the first half gave the Bulldogs a 14-point lead. There were mistakes all around, both on offense and defense, which they were unable to shake off. After those mistakes, the Gators were unable to recover.
If Florida does not work on the mistakes made in this game, they might as well kiss the rest of the season goodbye. The remainder of the schedule is challenging for the Gators after the Arkansas game on Nov. 4. Playing LSU in Tiger Stadium. Missouri at the Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium, and finally playing FSU for the last game of the season in The Swamp. All those teams besides the Razorbacks are ranked as of the conclusion of the Florida v.s. Georgia game.
— Weiss (@ZackaryWeiss_) October 28, 2023
Mertz had this comment to make on the rest of the season:
He then goes on to say how the team will make sure this does not happen again for future games. As well as how the team will benefit from a loss like this.
The Gators return to The Swamp for a noon game Saturday against Arkansas. This will be a blackout uniform game for Florida.