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The annual Florida-Georgia game kicks off Saturday in Jacksonville at 3:30 p.m.

Friday November 1, 2013The Opening Kickoff: Florida vs. Georgia -- #UFvsUGA

The annual Florida-Georgia game kicks off Saturday in Jacksonville at 3:30 p.m.

Scott Carter
By SCOTT CARTER
GatorZone.com Senior Writer

The Opening Kickoff

Florida vs. Georgia
#UFvsUGA
Saturday, 3:30 p.m.
EverBank Field (Jacksonville)
Broadcast Info | Game Notes

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The parking lots around EverBank Field sat empty Friday in the final moments of the calm before the storm.

Other than for stadium workers making final preparations and vendors setting up shop, not much was happening.

That will all change starting early Saturday morning as tailgaters and Florida-Georgia football fans flock to the stadium on the banks of the St. Johns River for the annual showdown between SEC East rivals.

Florida-Georgia logo

Neither the Gators nor Bulldogs are ranked, but both still have a sliver of hope in the SEC East thanks to Missouri's loss to South Carolina last week. Saturday's winner lives for another week in the division race, the loser pushed aside.

While the annual clash might not be the one most expected when Florida and Georgia opened the season in the top 10, once the game starts, that won't matter to the players or sold-out stadium split in half -- one side orange and blue, one side red and black.

Former Georgia offensive lineman Peter Anderson, a Jacksonville resident who played for the Bulldogs from 1983-85, reminded the crowd at Friday afternoon's Florida-Georgia Hall of Fame induction ceremony why this game matters regardless of records or rankings.

"There is no other game across the country like this,'' Anderson said. "The rivalry, the setting, the fans, the tailgating -- the whole package makes this game so special."

Former Gators Jevon Kearse and Lindy Infante, also inducted into the Florida-Georgia Hall of Fame on Friday with Anderson and former Bulldog offensive lineman Matt Stinchcomb, echoed Anderson's sentiments.

Gators coach Will Muschamp is familiar with the rivalry. He played for the Bulldogs and now coaches the Gators. Mark Richt is now an experienced participant. Saturday will be his 13th Florida-Georgia game as Georgia's head coach.

That is one more Florida-Georgia game than Steve Spurrier coached the Gators in from 1990-2001.

Let’s take a look at the 2013 Florida-Georgia game with The Opening Kickoff:

 

FIVE STORYLINES TO WATCH

  • These are two teams in need of a win. One will emerge victorious Saturday and give its not-too-happy fan base something to cheer about. The losing team won't be so lucky.
  • Florida's offense has averaged less than 200 yards per game over the past two games, road losses at LSU and Missouri. The Gators need to improve offensively to expect to come away with a victory.
  • Florida has lost back-to-back games to the Bulldogs for the first time in more than 20 years. The Gators don't want to lose three in a row for the first time since 1987-89.
  • The Florida defense might have to be good on fourth down, too. Georgia has not been afraid to go for it on fourth down, converting 8 of 11 attempts (73 percent).
  • Both of these teams have been ravaged by injuries this season. Fortunately, both are coming off bye weeks and the extra time to heal might make a difference for players nursing bumps and bruises.

 

CAST OF CHARACTERS

  • Freshman running back Kelvin Taylor sparked the Gators' offense at Missouri with his first career touchdown and a career-high 74 yards. Muschamp said Taylor probably would start against Georgia. If Taylor can pick up where he left off, he should add some much-needed life into the offense.
  • Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray is trying to join former Bulldogs John Rauch and Buck Belue as the only Georgia quarterbacks to beat the Gators three times in their careers. Murray is dangerous whenever the ball is in his hands.
  • Muschamp doesn't want to be a major storyline in the Florida-Georgia game, but he is because he played at Georgia and now coaches at Florida. And of course, he will be until he beats his alma mater. Florida fans are fine that he went 0-4 against the Gators as a player.
  • Florida's offensive line will be watched closely on Saturday. Tyler Moore is moving from right tackle to left tackle in place of the injured D.J. Humphries. Meanwhile, junior-college transfer Trenton Brown will make his first career start at right tackle.
  • The Bulldogs expect to have running back Todd Gurley back according to Richt. Gurley has missed three consecutive games with an injured ankle but looked good in practice according to reports. Meanwhile, Florida linebacker Ronald Powell and defensive tackle Damien Jacobs are expected to return after missing the Missouri game due to injuries.

 

THE QUOTE FILE

  • "He's a very talented runner. He's a guy that can certainly do some things in the run game. I think he's done a nice job and deserves the opportunity." -- Muschamp on Taylor
  • "Every single day, he wants to try to find a way to get better. He's not feeling sorry for himself, or anything like that. I think he's still very happy that he's here with us, and he wants to finish strong.'' -- Richt on Murray, who is 2-1 against Florida
  • "He's, in my opinion, the best running back in the country. He's a game changer." -- Georgia receiver Rhett McGowan on Gurley
  • "That was a one-time thing. I can guarantee you that won't happen again.'' -- Gators linebacker Michael Taylor on Missouri's 500 yards of total offense
  • "I think our guys are resilient. They work hard, and they're confident in what we're doing. I think you'll see it.'' -- Gators defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin on Florida's SEC-leading defense bouncing back from Missouri loss

 

TALKING POINTS

GatorZone.com senior writers Scott Carter and Chris Harry discuss Saturday's game in this video ...

The Florida-Georgia game kicks off at 3:30 p.m. on CBS Saturday.

 

10 QUICK HITTERS 

  • Florida and Georgia both enter their annual rivalry game on two-game losing streaks. The last time that happened was 1926.
  • Florida's offense worked during the bye week to improve on these numbers: 336.9 yards per game and 4.9 yards per play, both at the bottom of the conference.
  • The Gators will have safety Cody Riggs back. Riggs was ejected on the first play against Missouri for a targeting penalty.
  • Georgia is a minus-5 in turnover margin, 13th in the SEC; Florida is a plus-1, tied for sixth.
  • The Bulldogs are last in the SEC in scoring defense, surrendering 33.3 points per game. Four touchdowns have come against Georgia's special-teams unit.
  • The Gators committed six turnovers in last season's 17-9 loss but were on the verge of potentially tying the game until Jordan Reed's fumble into the end zone in the final minute.
  • Bulldogs sophomore linebacker Jordan Jenkins leads the team with eight tackles for loss.
  • Muschamp is 0-2 against Georgia; Richt is 4-8 against Florida.
  • Over the last three games, Gators junior cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy recorded the first interception of his career against Arkansas and the first fumble recovery of his career against Missouri.
  • Gators walk-on kicker Frankie Velez is 3-for-3 since taking over place-kicking duties for Austin Hardin and Brad Phillips.
  • Murray has 112 career touchdown passes, second all-time in the SEC to former Gators quarterback Danny Wuerffel (114). 

 

WHAT THEY’RE WRITING

--Florida's once-formidable defense is eager to strike back writes Edgar Thompson of The Orlando Sentinel.

--Gary Smits of The Florida Times-Union writes of the six men who have played and been a head coach in the Florida-Georgia game.

--The Gators are out to protect quarterback Tyler Murphy writes Zach Abolverdi of The Gainesville Sun.

--ESPN.com's Chris Low offers his Week 10 SEC predictions.

--Hard work, big numbers are Aaron Murray's legacy writes David Ching of ESPN.com.

 

TOPICAL TWEETS

 

THE BOTTOM LINE

These two teams are similar in so many ways -- from their records to the way they have each lost so many players to injury this season.

The one difference is Murray. Georgia's senior quarterback is one of the nation's best and is the SEC's all-time total offense leader.

He gives Georgia the best chance at a victory. The Gators' strength is their SEC-leading defense. The winner of that battle very likely will win the game.

 

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