A quarterback change did not help Florida give Georgia a challenge on Saturday.
No. 1 Georgia scored 21 points in the final 2:22 of the second quarter to enter halftime up 24-0 on the way to a 34-7 win over the Gators in their annual Jacksonville rivalry game.
Florida started QB Anthony Richardson over Emory Jones. Georgia’s first TD came after Richardson was stripped in a moving pile with 2:22 to go in the second quarter and James Cook scored on an 11-yard TD run a play later.
Richardson then threw an interception on the second play of Florida’s next possession. Georgia QB Stetson Bennett hit Kearis Jackson a play later for a 36-yard TD and a 17-0 lead.
Florida was at least able to make it six plays without a turnover after that. Richardson was intercepted by Nakobe Dean on the seventh play of the Gators’ drive and Dean returned the ball 50 yards for a pick-six and a commanding Bulldogs lead.
Georgia beat Florida much like it has beaten teams all season long. The Georgia defense made Florida work for every yard and the Bulldogs offense capitalized on the opportunities the defense provided it. Bennett played his worst game of the season — he threw two interceptions on awful deep passes — but it didn’t matter because of how good Georgia’s defense continues to be.
Richardson was forced to exit the game in the third quarter after taking a hit on a run. He was replaced by Emory Jones, the man who had started Florida’s previous seven games. After Richardson had flashed in brief stints as Jones’ backup, Gator fans clamored for him to start.
They got their wish Saturday, but it wasn’t pretty. Richardson was 12-of-20 passing for 82 yards and had 12 carries for 26 yards. Granted, making the first start of your college career against this Georgia defense is, uh, less than ideal. But Florida’s offense didn’t get a boost with him on the field.
A TD by Jones with less than three minutes left helped Florida avoid getting shut out by Georgia for the first time since 1982. The Bulldogs have won four of the last five meetings with the Gators and seven of the last 11.
The win also all but ensures that Georgia will be No. 1 in the first College Football Playoff rankings of the season on Tuesday. Georgia has been the most dominant team in the country by a wide margin. It’ll be nothing short of a stunner if the CFP selection committee doesn’t recognize that with the first No. 1 ranking of the season.