SEC East title on the line in Jacksonville

AP Photo/Stephen Morton

Aaron Murray and the Bulldogs look to beat Florida for the second year in a row.The Florida Gators and Georgia Bulldogs renew their annual rivalry in Jacksonville on Saturday afternoon, and it’s a huge game in the SEC East division race.

If Florida wins, the Gators clinch the SEC East title. If Georgia wins, the Dawgs control their own destiny going forward and will be SEC East champions if they can win their remaining three conference games.

Florida vs Georgia
Both Teams Ranked in AP Top 10

The history of the rivalry

This is just the sixth matchup between these two teams where both have been ranked in the top 10 in the AP Poll, and just the second time both have been ranked in the top 10 in the BCS.

The Gators have owned this series since 1990, having won 18 of the 22 meetings in that span.

However, Georgia won last year’s game and hasn’t beaten the Gators in consecutive seasons since winning three straight from 1987-89.

It’s not how you start, but how you finish

One of the main reasons that Florida is among the top-ranked teams in the nation is because of its dominance after halftime.

Florida has trailed at halftime in three of its seven games this season, but has gone on to win all three games. The Gators have a +31 point differential in the first half, but that number jumps to +95 in the second half, the fourth-largest first/second-half differential in FBS.

Florida Gators This Season

Florida averages six minutes and 30 seconds more time of possession in the second half than its opponents, the largest differential in the nation. The Gators are able to maintain control of the game late because they run on 78 percent of their second-half plays, the fifth-highest percentage in the FBS.

Mike Gillislee has been a key cog in Florida’s ability to grind the clock, especially in SEC games. Gillislee is averaging two more yards per rush in the second half (5.4) compared to the first (3.4). His 311 rushing yards in the second-half of SEC games leads all conference players.

Florida’s second-half defense will be tested against Georgia. The Bulldogs have scored 143 points in the second half, the most among SEC teams and 13th in the nation.

Georgia’s big-play offense

The Bulldogs will need to leverage their high-powered offense to build a sizeable lead early in the game and make it difficult for the Gators to rally in the second half.

Georgia’s offense is fueled by the big play, with 50 plays of 20-or-more yards this season, tied for the most in FBS.

They already have 24 plays of 30-plus yards, which is one more than they had all of last season. The only game this year that the Bulldogs did not have at least one 30-yard play was in their lone loss at South Carolina Gamecocks.

Florida has given up 21 plays that have gained at least 20 this season, including three rushes. The three 20-yard rushes are the tied for the fifth-fewest in FBS, and the 21 plays are tied for 12th-fewest.