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Two of the three teams occupying residency at the top of the SEC East will square off in the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party held in Jacksonville on Saturday. CBS will beam this marquee matchup between No. 9 Florida and No. 7 Georgia live at 3:30 ET and it should be a dandy.
What it will also be is a guarantee that the winner will still be a viable CFP consideration while the loser will almost certainly be relegated to a bowl not named Cotton or Orange at season’s end. The ramifications will be enormous and the outcome will determine whether Gators fans taunt Bulldogs fans or Bulldogs fans torment Gators fans and essentially who throws the first punch in the parking lot.
Florida has been revitalized under new head coach Dan Mullen and the disappointing 4-7 record from last season under Jim McElwain is now a distant memory. In their last outing, the Gators rallied from 18 down, tying the largest comeback in Florida’s football history, to wrangle a 37-27 victory from Vanderbilt in Nashville. The game was marred by a near brawl when the players and coaches spilled from the sidelines onto the field. But in the end, the Gators notched a victory and are now 6-1 as they brace for a collision with the Dawgs in Jacksonville.
Georgia’s last performance proved to be their first blemish of the season with a 36-16 setback to LSU. Sportsbook Review’s best online sportsbooks were dealing the Dawgs as anywhere from 6 to 7-point road chalk but the bookmakers had the wrong favorite as the Bulldogs’ offense was smothered by a ferocious LSU defense.
Moreover, it was the daring game strategy by LSU’s head coach Ed Orgeron, whose confidence in his offense allowed them the opportunity to convert on not one, not two, but four fourth-and-shorts. Orgeron challenged his offense to flex their muscles and overpower the vaunted Georgia defense. It not only worked on every attempt but delivered 13 points to the bottom line. It was a bold stroke against one of the best defensive units in the nation and one that ebbed the life out of the visitors.
Jake Fromm struggled all afternoon as LSU’s exotic pre-snap formations bewildered the talented sophomore while the Tigers’ relentless pressure left him sacked three times and on the run throughout the game. The final numbers were telling as Fromm completed 16 of 34 passes for 209 yards, one touchdown, and two picks. Now Georgia must pick up the pieces after tumbling five spots in the rankings with the loss. A CFP berth is still within their reach but a loss to the Gators would all but eliminate that pursuit.
Florida checks in with an identical 6-1 mark, but unlike Georgia has covered the number in five of their six games and are making their backers a bundle. But the oddsmakers will eventually get hip to the fact that these are not the 2017 Gators but a much more talented version with a new head shot caller making a difference. Sportsbook Review has all the odds from the best online sportsbooks on just one page and the majors are unanimous in offering the Dawgs as touchdown favorites at the neutral site. Both teams have had two weeks to prepare after their bye weeks and the oddsmakers, as well as the public, are still not convinced that these Gators are ready for prime time.
Last season Georgia ripped Florida 42-7 after having lost their previous three Cocktail Party meetings to the Gators. This year the oddsmakers expect the score to be much closer but that ultimately Georgia will wind up the victor. Although Florida will have a tough time beating one of the best teams in the nation on a neutral field we believe the Gators are tough enough on both sides of the ball to keep this close enough to cash when the final gun sounds.
So whether you’re a Bulldogs or Gators fan, get on over to Sportsbook Review and monitor this line throughout the week because a half point could be the difference between an ATS winner and a loser.
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