Inside the Numbers

Some have billed this Saturday's showdown between Florida and Georgia as the biggest game of the year and by far the most important meeting between the two teams in the history of the series.

When looking at the numbers for each team this year I was somewhat surprised by what I found. We start with pass efficiency defense. It seemed as if the struggles of last year's Florida defense was in large part due to the play of the secondary. While the front four play goes hand in hand with how well the secondary does or does not perform this year's group is tops in the league in pass efficiency defense and No. 9 in the nation. Through seven games the Gators are yielding a completion percentage of only 56 percent on 126-of-225 passing and only 5.31 yards per attempt. The key to note here is that it's yards per attempt and not yards per completion. The defense gets rewarded for passes not completed.

Georgia is ninth in the league at 6.7 yards per attempt on 146-of-264 or 55.3 percent, which by percentage is lower than the Gators but they give up more yards per attempt.

The Gators rank fifth in the league allowing 170 yards per game or No. 17 in the nation while Georgia allows more than 220 yards passing per game, which is 11th in the league and No. 77 in the nation. Florida has allowed a total of five touchdown passes while Georgia has allowed 13 on the year.

The next two categories are fumbles lost and recovered. The Gators rank tied for third in the league with six fumble recoveries and third fewest fumbles lost in the league at four or a differential of plus-2. Georgia is tied for ninth in the league with only three fumble recoveries and has the second fewest lost fumbles at three as well to give put them even on the year with regards to fumbles lost and gained.

The next category many might be somewhat surprised by is punt returns. Georgia is actually ranked No. 1 in the league with 16 returns for 335 yards and one touchdown. This is 20.97 yards per return and ranks third in the nation. The Gators and Brandon James are No. 2 in the league on 21 returns for 423 yards or an average of 20.14 yards per attempt, which comes in fourth in the nation and a total of two touchdowns.

When you look at kickoff returns it's a different story with the Gators getting the edge. Florida ranks second in the league and seventh nationally with 15 kickoff returns for 386 yards or an average of 25.73 per return. Georgia ranks seventh in the league and 58th nationally with 29 returns for 623 yards or an average of 21.4 per return.

The Bulldogs rank first in the league in punting on 32 punts for an average of 43.19 per punt and a net average of 38.44. The Gators rank fifth in the league on 22 punts for 43.82 per punt an a net average of 36.55.

Georgia averages 258 yards passing per game which is tops in the league and No. 23 in the nation. Matthew Stafford has 13 touchdown passes and five interceptions and is completing 62 percent of his passes on the season. Georgia ranks second in the league in pass efficiency offense and is at 8.59 yards per attempt. The Gators are sixth in the league and No. 61 in the nation with 215 passing yards per game. Tim Tebow has 12 touchdown passes (the other was from John Brantley) and only two interceptions. Florida is first in the league at 8.67 yards per attempt.

Florida ranks tied for fourth with Alabama having intercepted 10 passes on the year and Georgia is tied for seventh in the league with a total of eight passes intercepted on the season.

Alabama is tops in the league with regards to rushing offense while the Gators are No. 2 in the league and 21st in the nation through seven games at 196 yards per game. The Gators are tops in the league with a healthy 5.3 yards per carry and also tops in the league with 19 rushing touchdowns on the year one better than Alabama. Georgia is fourth in the league with 173 rush yards per game and has an average of 4.95 per rush. The Bulldogs have 17 rushing touchdowns on the season through eight games.

Georgia gets a slight edge in rushing defense coming in at two in the league only allowing 77 yard per game or an average of 2.81 per rushing attempt which puts them at sixth in the nation in that category. The Gators come in right behind Georgia at three in the league and 15th in the nation allowing 102 yards rushing per game with an average of 3.36 per attempt. Georgia has given up eight rushing touchdowns on the year to Florida's five.

The Gators have the league's best scoring offense and defense to date. Florida through seven games allows on average 11.86 points per game defensively and scores on average 42 points per game or a differential of almost 30 points per game. The Gators are sixth in the nation in scoring defense and seventh in the nation in scoring offense. The Bulldogs come in eighth in the league in scoring defense and second in the league in scoring offense. Georgia on average gives up just more than 20 points per game and scores on average 32 points per game for a differential of 12. The Bulldogs come in at 36th in the nation in scoring defense and 24th best in scoring offense.

Florida is third in the league in total defense allowing 273 yards per game or an average of 4.36 per play which ranks fifth best in the nation and have allowed only 10 touchdowns on the season through seven games. Georgia ranks sixth in the league allowing 298 yards per game or an average of 4.94 per play and finds themselves 21st in the nation. On the year Georgia has allowed 21 touchdowns twice as many as the Gators.

Georgia ranks first in the league in total offense at 431 yards per game which ranks 25th in the nation and has 34 total touchdowns on the season. The Gators come in at No. 3 in the league with 410 yards per game or 31st in the nation and a total of 38 touchdowns in one less game as the Bulldogs.

The next category that I decided to look at is turnovers gained and lost. Florida is third in the league with 16 turnovers gained and first in the league while only turning the ball over six times or a differential of plus-10 on the year through seven games. Georgia is ninth in the league with 11 turnovers gained and second in the league in turnovers lost with only eight through eight games or a differential of plus-3 on the season.

It should come as no shock that the Gators are tops in the league in turnover margin at plus-1.43 turnovers gained per game. On the season through seven games the Gators have six fumble recoveries and 10 interceptions. Georgia is sixth in the league at plus-.38 turnovers gained per game with three fumble recoveries and eight interceptions on the season through eight games.

The last two categories are sacks and tackles for loss. The Gators average 2.29 sacks per game which comes in at tied for third in the league while the Bulldogs average 1.88 sacks per game or seventh best in the league.

Georgia gets the edge in tackles for loss with a total of 44 or 5.5 per game which comes in at ninth in the league while the Gators have 33 tackles for loss or 4.71 per game which ranks eleventh in the league.

What does it all mean? These are two very good football teams and the game on Saturday should be one for the ages. What if anything surprises you when looking inside the numbers?


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