Georgia’s defense was far from soft against rival Florida.
And now the Gators are no longer undefeated and no longer in charge in the Southeastern Conference’s Eastern Division.
The 12th-ranked Bulldogs stuffed No. 3 Florida from every angle, forcing six turnovers in a 17-9 victory Saturday that left them on the cusp of the SEC championship game.
Call it the World’s Largest Outdoor Turnover Party, and it gave Georgia consecutive wins in the series for the first time since 1989. These have to be two of the most significant victories of coach Mark Richt’s tenure.
The Bulldogs (7-1, 5-1 Southeastern Conference) can clinch the East and a spot in the conference title game with wins against Mississippi and Auburn the next two weeks.
If they play defense like they did against Florida, getting to Atlanta should be a mere formality.
The Bulldogs did little on offense until Aaron Murray found Malcolm Mitchell for a 45-yard touchdown with 7:11 remaining that put them ahead 17-9. Mitchell spun out of Loucheiz Purifoy’s tackle attempt and went mostly untouched the rest of the way. Florida kept the drive alive with Dominique Easley’s holding penalty on third down.
Georgia sealed its fifth victory in the last 23 games in the rivalry with – what else? – a defensive play.
Jarvis Jones knocked the ball out of Jordan Reed’s hands near the goal line, and teammate Sanders Commings recovered in the end zone with 2:05 left.
Jones had another huge game against Florida (7-1, 6-1). The senior, who had four sacks in last year’s 24-20 victory, finished with 13 tackles, three sacks and two forced fumbles.
He helped the Bulldogs respond as well as possible to safety Shawn Williams’ criticism of ”playing too soft” earlier in the week. Williams had a point after Georgia allowed at least 20 points in six of its first seven games and gave up 206 yards rushing last week at Kentucky.
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