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Place: EverBank Field, Jacksonville, Florida
The last big test for No. 3 Florida and the obstacle standing in the way of a spot in the SEC Championship Game comes this weekend with No. 11 Georgia.
The annual cocktail party in Jacksonville, Florida, takes place on Saturday afternoon.
The Bulldogs are the only team in the SEC East with a chance to steal the Gators’ spot in the SEC title game but will need to win out to make it happen. If Florida gets by Georgia, it will have clinched a spot in the big game thanks to head-to-head wins over South Carolina and the Bulldogs.
Any remaining doubts about the Gators’ legitimacy were wiped away with that 44-11 drubbing of the Gamecocks last weekend, and quarterback Jeff Driskel has emerged as a threat in both the passing and running game. The Bulldogs have been less impressive, getting drilled by South Carolina and barely scraping by Tennessee and Kentucky in the last three games.
Florida Gators (7-0, 6-0 SEC): The Gators have one game left in a brutal four-game stretch that included LSU and South Carolina. Florida struggled on both sides of the ball at times during its 7-6 campaign in 2011 but has tightened things up in 2012, especially on the defensive end.
The Gators are fourth nationally in scoring defense, surrendering just 12.1 points, and held the Gamecocks to 36 rushing yards last Saturday. Driskel, who rushed for 177 yards in a win at Vanderbilt and passed for 219 at Tennessee, was efficient in the red zone against South Carolina with four touchdown passes.
The sophomore has been asked to manage the game more than carry the offense and has responded with a 9-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio for an offense averaging better than 30 points.
Georgia Bulldogs (6-1, 4-1): The Bulldogs put up at least 48 points in each of their first three conference games but had their defense exposed in a 51-44 win over the Volunteers on Sept. 29. Including that contest, Georgia has allowed 34.3 points over its last three games.
That has put more pressure on quarterback Aaron Murray, who matched Driskel with a four-TD, no-interception performance in a 29-24 win at Kentucky last weekend. Murray became the school’s all-time leader in touchdown passes with that effort while putting up 427 yards through the air.
But the only top-20 defense Murray has faced in 2012 was South Carolina, which forced him into a season-worst 11-for-31 passing performance with no touchdowns. Murray was 15-for-34 for 169 yards, two touchdowns and one interception last season against Florida but converted a pair of fourth downs for scores to help pull out a 24-20 victory.
1. Second-year Florida coach Will Muschamp played at Georgia from 1991-94 and was defensive captain as a safety his senior year.
2. The Bulldogs’ victory last season snapped a three-game losing streak in the series. Georgia leads the series overall at 48-40-2.
3. Bulldogs DE Abry Jones (ankle) won’t play, but OLB Jarvis Jones (ankle), who missed the Kentucky game, is expected to return.