World's Largest Party

Jacksonville, FL - The annual meeting between Georgia and Florida almost never lacks for intensity or significance.

And this year's matchup should be no different, with the winner getting the inside track to capture the SEC East Division and keeping its national title hopes intact.

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The Gators, however, appear to have some extra motivation working for them going into Saturday.

Oddsmakers from have made Florida –5.5 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Saturday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 52% of bets for this game have been placed on Florida –5.5 (View College Football bet percentages).

Florida felt disrespected by its archrival in last season's matchup, and the No. 5 Gators will be looking to avenge that bitter loss to eighth-ranked Georgia at "The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party" in Jacksonville, Fla.

The Bulldogs (7-1, 4-1) defeated Florida 42-30 last year for just their third win in the last 18 meetings, but it was a play early in the game that still angers the Gators (6-1, 4-1).

After Georgia's Knowshon Moreno scored on a 1-yard run in the first quarter, the entire Bulldogs team ran onto the field and jumped up and down in unison while celebrating wildly - a move that was uncharacteristically orchestrated by coach Mark Richt.

"I told them if they didn't get a celebration penalty after our first score, all of them would be doing early morning runs," Richt said after that victory. "I wanted to make sure we left this game with our hearts on the field."

Georgia drew two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties for the celebration - which has left Florida furious for the past year. Several Gators expressed annoyance at the situation after last season's meeting, and time hasn't dissipated the bad feelings.

"Georgia is a game that everybody knowingly wants on our team," Florida linebacker Brandon Hicks said last month. "Everybody wants that game back. It feels like we have something to prove to the world. They came out and everybody thinks they intimidated us. We didn't play good after the stunt they did.

"That's pretty much the team that everybody wants on their list."

Perhaps not surprisingly, Richt and Florida coach Urban Meyer have worked to downplay the incident going into this year's showdown.

"When it comes to a celebration question, it doesn't matter how you phrase it," Richt said during a teleconference Sunday. "I'm going to refer you to whatever I said at SEC Media Days. That's really, really old news and I'm not going to make a comment on it."

Meyer issued a gag order to his players regarding the celebration to avoid heightening tensions.

Last year's incident could overshadow this game's importance, as Saturday's winner will need one more conference victory to clinch the East. Both teams come in having won three straight since their only losses of the season.

The Gators are coming off a 63-5 victory over Kentucky last Saturday - their 22nd straight win in that series. Florida had no problems coming off a bye, avoiding a letdown after a 51-21 win over defending national champion LSU in its previous game Oct. 11.

The Gators have outscored opponents 152-33 since a 31-30 loss to Mississippi on Sept. 27. They're ranked eighth in the latest BCS standings.

"We're going into that game on all cylinders,'' said Florida running back Percy Harvin, who's averaging 106.8 yards from scrimmage. "We're looking to get to Atlanta (for the SEC championship game) and Georgia's in the way. We remember the loss last year and we're going to prepare for them real good.''

The Bulldogs also pulled off an impressive victory over LSU in their last game, defeating the then-No. 11 Tigers 52-38 last week to move up one spot in the Top 25. Georgia also climbed one spot to sixth in the BCS standings.

The Bulldogs' Matthew Stafford paced the win over LSU, going 17-of-26 for 249 yards and two touchdowns, and running for a 7-yard score as he improved to 24-5 as a starter.

"Matthew is really maturing. He is standing in there when everything's flying around him and focusing downfield and throwing strikes,'' Richt said. "He's really doing that as fine as I've ever seen him do it and as well as anyone I've ever coached.''

Stafford was 11-of-18 for 217 yards, a career-high three TDs and one interception in last year's win over Florida.

Moreno rushed for 163 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries last Saturday, and along with Stafford has keyed the Bulldogs' winning streak.

After being held to a career-low 34 rushing yards in Georgia's 41-30 loss to then-No. 8 Alabama on Sept. 27, Moreno has run for 436 yards on 71 carries in the last three games.

In last year's victory over the Gators, he rushed for 188 yards and three touchdowns.

Florida has the SEC's top-ranked scoring defense at 11.9 points per game, but it's been susceptible to the run lately, allowing an average of 125.5 yards on the ground in the last four games.

The Gators lead the SEC in scoring at 42.0 ppg, and reigning Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow has been sharp lately.

Tebow threw two touchdown passes and ran for two scores in last week's win, and has passed for 926 yards, seven touchdowns and two interceptions in his last four games, also rushing for five scores during that span.

In last year's loss to Georgia, Tebow was 14-of-21 for 236 yards and a touchdown, and ran for two TDs. Harvin rushed 10 times for 97 yards and caught two passes for 41 yards.

"We feel like we can hang with anybody in the nation," Bulldogs linebacker Rennie Curran said. "We are going to come out and give our best game and try to do the best we can to stop Tim Tebow, Percy Harvin and all those guys. They are a real talented group."

Top Betting Trends:
All games in this series since 1992
FLORIDA is 10-6 against the spread versus GEORGIA since 1992
FLORIDA is 13-3 straight up against GEORGIA since 1992
8 of 14 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games over the last 3 seasons
GEORGIA is 2-0 against the spread versus FLORIDA over the last 3 seasons 
GEORGIA is 1-1 straight up against FLORIDA over the last 3 seasons 
1 of 2 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
Key Player Injuries
[RB] Emmanuel Moody upgraded to probable - Ankle - 10/22/08
[TE] Cornelius Ingram is out for the season. - ACL - 08/09/08
[OL] Jim Tartt missed last game, downgraded to doubtful - Shoulder - 10/23
[OL] Jim Barrie expected to miss entire season - ACL - 08/12/08
[DT] John Brown is out indefinitely. - Hand - 09/17/08
[DT] Omar Hunter missed last game, downgraded to expected to redshirt - An
[LB] Dustin Doe upgraded to probable - Hernia - 10/22/08
[LB] Brendan Beal is expected to miss entire season - ACL - 08/12/08
[S] Dorian Munroe expected to miss entire season - ACL - 08/07/08
[S] Bryan Thomas missed last game, doubtful - Knee - 10/23/08
[OL] Chris Little out indefinitely. - Foot - 08/26/08
[WR] Kris Durham missed last game, upgraded to probable. - Ankle - 10/20/0
[OT] Trinton Sturdivant is expected to miss entire season. - Knee - 08/12/
[OL] Vince Vance left last game, out for season - Knee - 10/12/08
[TE] Tripp Chandler missed last game, downgraded to doubtful. - Shoulder -
[TE] Bruce Figgins is probable but may be limited. - Shoulder - 10/23/08
[WR] Tony Wilson out for season - Ankle - 10/07/08
[DL] Jeff Owens is expected to miss entire season - ACL - 08/31/08
[DT] Kade Weston missed last game, probable. - Knee - 10/20/08
[LB] Dannell Ellerbe missed last game, upgraded to probable. - Knee - 10/2
[LB] Charles White is expected to miss entire season - Achilles - 09/06/08
[S] Quintin Banks is out indefinitely. - Knee - 10/22/08
[LS] Jeff Henson is out for the season. - Suspension - 09/19/08
[DT] Brandon Wood is expected to miss. - Suspension - 10/20/08
[TE] Aron White is expected to miss. - Shoulder - 10/23/08

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Posted: 10/28/08 1:52 PM

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