It's sort of odd, isn't it? Georgia has struggled to the point of fans demanding coaching changes on Mark Richt's staff, and yet, thinking the Dawgs have a shot to beat No. 1 Florida -- the defending champs and the same team that beat Georgia by 39 last year -- doesn't seem entirely unreasonable.
The rationale, of course, is that while Florida clearly appears to be the more talented team, the Gators have hardly been impressive, despite their unblemished record. Last year, Florida blew the doors off all comers, save a flukey loss to Ole Miss. This year, it's all been a struggle, even against also-rans like Arkansas and Mississippi State.
So, assuming Georgia's coaching staff has done its job during the bye week, the Bulldogs could potentially be poised to upset the Gators, right?
Well, maybe. But there's also a reason that Vegas calls Florida a 16-point favorite.
That said, it's intriguing to see the fallout surrounding Florida in the wake of yet another mundane offensive performance against an otherwise lackluster opponent last week.
From Chris Low's blog yesterday:
Florida’s passing game: The Gators rank a robust 80th nationally in passing offense this week, which is one spot behind Ohio University and three spots behind South Florida. Florida can’t throw it down the field at all right now, which better improve if the Gators want to win a second straight national title.
Those are the stats alright. No more Percy Harvin. No More Louis Murphy. No more Dan Mullen. And now? Florida simply doesn't have a vertical game.
Heck, it's gotten so bad, some Florida fans are asking for Tim Tebow to be benched in favor of backup John Brantley. Sort of puts that whole Joe Cox-Logan Gray debate into perspective.
Of course, we've heard this before, right? Struggling passing game gives Georgia's beleaguered secondary a shot at redemption? Actually, I wrote about it before the Vandy game just two weeks ago.
In that contest, Georgia's D actually took advantage of the Commies' struggling passing game. But that certainly hasn't always been the case, and Tebow is certainly a good bit better than Larry Smith, even if his star wideouts aren't on the roster this year.
In fact, Georgia has allowed three different quarterbacks -- Stephen Garcia, Ryan Mallett and Johnathan Crompton -- throw for at least 300 yards already this season. And none are exactly superstars just yet. Just compare how those three fared against Georgia with how they fared against the stalwart defense of Alabama:
|QB|| vs. UGA||vs.Bama|
|Garcia|| 31-53-313, 2/1||20-46-214, 0/1|
|Mallett|| 21-39-405, 5/0|| 12-35-160, 1/1|
|Crompton||20-27-310, 4/1|| 21-36-265, 1/1|
Actually, there's an even more direct comparison for Mallett and Crompton, who have both played Florida this season, too. Against the Gators, Crompton was 11-of-19 for 93 yards, no TDs and 2 INTs. Mallett was slightly more successful, but his line of 12-of-27 for 224 yards and a TD still didn't come anywhere close to his huge performance against the Dawgs.
And again, Tebow is a better QB than any of those three.
So the basic question is this: Which will mean more come Saturday -- Florida's 80th-ranked passing offense or Georgia's 90th-ranked passing defense?
Before you answer though, remember this comparison as well:
Arkansas' pass defense is even worse than Georgia's, ranking 111th nationally.
When the Dawgs took on the Hogs, Joe Cox threw for a whopping 375 yards and five TDs.
When the Hogs played Tebow's struggling offense, the Gators threw for just 255 yards and one TD pass.
So Tebow is better than Crompton/Mallett/Garcia, and the Dawgs couldn't stop them. By that logic, Georgia won't stop Tebow.
But Georgia's D is better than Arkansas' D, and Arkansas did stop Tebow. So by that logic, he's in for another frustrating day against the Dawgs.
Which is really just a long way of saying, we really don't know what the heck will happen. But that alone is probably cause for encouragement for the Dawgs.