It’s Friday, and that means it’s time for another smackdown. Interestingly enough, I have only written one of these in favor of my Florida Gators. But fear not, because this week it’s time for another one.
The Gators beat the Georgia Bulldogs last weekend in the annual World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party in Jacksonville. While the offense may have been lackluster as always, the defense was scary good.
This weekend Florida travels to Fayetteville to play the Arkansas Razorbacks. The last time the Gators traveled to Arkansas was during the Meyer era, and they won that game by 31 points.
Overall, the Gators boast a 9-1 record over the Razorbacks. And after this weekend I fully expect that record to improve to 10-1.
It’s not that the Razorbacks can’t beat the Gators. It’s just that they won’t.
The season was actually going pretty well for Arkansas just a few weeks ago. It had only lost two games to two very good teams, and not by completely ridiculous margins. Then the Razorbacks traveled to Auburn and got absolutely blown out by the Tigers. They lost 56-3. Yes, that means it was a 53-point loss. Now that is an example of a completely ridiculous margin.
While Auburn is good, there’s no way the Tigers are that good. That’s the kind of score you expect when a major FBS team is playing some tiny FCS team. That’s not the kind of score you expect in conference play.
Arkansas did have two turnovers to Auburn’s none. But what really hurt most is its 215 totally yards on offense to Auburn’s 632.
No, Florida’s offense will probably not put up 632 yards (I can only dream of the day when it does). Actually, the Florida offense only had 231 yards in the win over Georgia. But after holding Georgia’s offense to 164 yards, that was more than enough for the Gators.
Arkansas may have an offense significantly better than that of Georgia. But it also has a defense that is much worse than Georgia’s. And because of that, this matchup favors the Gators.
My favorite game-predicting statistic, the ESPN FPI Matchup Rater, gives the Gators a 65.2% chance of winning this game. But if we dive deeper into the numbers from this season, you’ll see why the Gators are favored (and rightfully so).
The Razorbacks are averaging 30.9 points per game on offense but giving up an average of 31.4. They are gaining an average of 416.8 yards each game but allowing an average of 428.0. Furthermore, the Razorbacks average 256.4 passing yards per game while giving up an average of 206.3. And as far as rushing yards go, they average 160.4 yards per game but give up 221.8.
The Gators are averaging 29.4 points each game and only giving up an average of 11.7. They gain an average of 398.6 yards per game but only allow an average of 239.9. The Gators average 228.4 yards per game in the air but allow an average of only 134.3. They gain an average of 170.1 yards on the ground while allowing an average of only 105.6.
I’ll let all that sit for a minute. Read it again if you must.
But if you look at these numbers you’ll see an interesting pattern, a pattern that results in more W’s for the Gators and more L’s for the Razorbacks. The Gators put up more points and gain more yards than they allow. The Razorbacks put up fewer points and allow more yards than they gain, with the only exception being passing yards.
That one exception could be very significant in many games. But when you’re playing the Gators, you really can’t rely on success in the passing game. The Gators have a borderline erotic defense. Maybe even just erotic.
They have an incredibly strong defensive line, especially when the linemen are all healthy. They boast one of the best linebackers in the country in Jarrad Davis. The Gators also have Marcus Maye, who you really don’t want to throw the ball anywhere near, at safety. Not to mention they have the best cornerback duo in all of college football this season, Quincy Wilson and Teez Tabor.
It comes down to this: Austin Allen is good. But he, along with the Arkansas O-line, should prove to be no match for this Gator defense. As long as this defense performs the way it has been for most of the season, the Razorbacks will end up on their knees begging for mercy, much like Bret Bielema in this lovely clip from a Hog Walk.
And just because I can’t talk about Arkansas without mentioning its first game of the season, let’s not forget that Arkansas almost lost to Louisiana Tech. No, the Gators didn’t blow out UMass, but they didn’t only win by a single point. So there’s that.
Go Gators! It’s only natural for gators to annihilate hogs anyways.
Email Kristen at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @OGKristenB.
Photo: Bryan McDonald, Flickr