We are a mere two days away from the one of the msot anticipated college football games of the season. However instead of focusing on the actual match-up, the hype machine that is ESPN and others in the media are choosing only to focus on what transpired in the first quarter of last year's 42-30 Georgia victory. In case you don't know what I'm talking about, you can watch the video here. But there is more to this game than Florida exacting revenge and they better realize it they will lose the game and the SEC East title.
In an unsurprising, reverse phsycology move, Florida coach Urban Meyer put the kibosh on any of his players making statements regarding the unsportsmanlike penalty of a year ago. Yet, somehow, players made statements to the press about the incident weeks in advance that have been circulating to every media outlet available. It has even exhaustibly been mentioned that in his "authorized" biography Meyer was upset about what Georgia did and will exact "revenge" for it. Now far be it from me to question pope Urban, but I think this shows a slight problem he has with losing. It is a good problem to have if you are a big-time college coach like Urban is; he simply hates to lose and does not react well when he does. Case in point was Florida's one loss this year, where Meyer gave a quick handshake to Houston Nut after Ole Miss pulled off the upset (2:42 for that in the video).
This was after Miami coach Randy Shannon received heat in Gainsville for not giving Meyer a "proper" handshake following Miami's 26-3 loss in the second week of the season. It seems turnabout may not be fair play in the Gators' minds. What upset Shannon and Miami was the attempt of putting another touchdown on the board with only a minute remaining and Florida already winning 23-3. Strange how Meyer threw for the endzone and even kicked a field goal to cover the spread when kneeling on the ball would have ended the game after a convincing win. Now some would describe that as a classless move and clearly Randy Shannon thought so. Meyer, like his other national championship predecessor Steve Spurrier, enjoys tallying the scoreboard high and even throwing a few trick plays in even when the game is in hand and in this day and age of the BCS and polls ruling who makes the big bowls, one could argue there is nothing wrong with piling it on.
It is not the act of rushing the field by all the Georgia players which won them the game, it was the ability of Knowshon Moreno and Matthew Stafford to move the ball against the young Gators' defense and the ability of the Bulldog defense to make some key stops. The story will be the same for this year's game. Both teams are coming off impressive wins; Florida pounded Kentucky 63-5 and Georgia went into Baton Rouge and beat LSU 52-38. The Florida offense has more playmaking ability with Tebow's ability to rush, the backfield running of Jeffrey Demps and Chris Rainey, and the lightning speed of Percy Harvin. Georgia's attack is much more centered around one player, but the one player in this case happens to be Moreno. Knowshon has rushed for 925 yards and 12 TDs so far this year. Tebow has been solid this year, but has not been featured as much in the offense which was the plan. Stafford has received mixed reviews but has shown at times he can make the big throws as he has completed over 61% of his passes, thrown for 1946 yards and 12 TDs. A sub-par performance will not get it done for UGA, Stafford cannot even be mediocre for the Bulldogs to triumph on Saturday. The Florida defense has been much tougher this year, giving up only just under 12 points a game. Charlie Strong and the Gator defense will no doubt have a plan in place to slow Knowshon down.
The "experts" seem to be leaning toward Florida in this one and they do have the more dynamic offense, stronger momentum, and the revenge factor if you want to call it that. I do think Georgia has to play with less errors to win than Florida in order to win and they must be successful with Knowshon and keep the Florida offense off the field. Either way it should be a great contest and the strategic battle of the coaches on the field should excel any hurt feelings off it. ESPN even went so far as to ask if there was fear in Mark Richt's voice. That seems absurd to me of a sports network trying to discern if there is fear in a coach's voice while he is simply giving a press conference. The focus has been too much on what happened last year and not on what the teams need to do on the field this year. The egde in the game goes to Florida but if they are too obsessed with getting even on the sidelines, they will lose on the field.