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October 26, 2012

Turnovers the Key to a Tall Order


In 1974, Georgia was a touchdown underdog in
Jacksonville, and would be outgained 420-263 by the
Gators. However, the Dogs did not lose the turnover
battle, and thus celebrated in the end.  
I received an email yesterday from a reader, asking when was the last time Georgia had defeated Florida if ever when the Bulldogs entered as big as an underdog as they will be tomorrow.
 
Currently, Georgia is a 7-point underdog, and unless the line drops by more than a point, it'll mark the 18th time over the last 40 meetings Florida entered the game favored by 6 points or higher.  Of these 18, notably, nine came consecutively from 1993 through 2001, or nearly the entire time Spurrier was the Ole Ball Coach at Florida.
 
To answer the emailer, not long ago it was just five seasons ago when the Bulldogs upset Tim Tebow and the Gators 42-30 as 7.5-point underdogs.  However, Georgia's upset victory in 2007 marked somewhat of a rare occurrence in the series.  Entering tomorrow, of the 17 meetings the Bulldogs were 6-point underdogs or more to Florida, only four times did they come away with a win:
 
1974: WON 17-16 as a 6.5-point underdog
1975: WON 10-7 as a 10.5-point underdog
1997: WON 37-17 as a 20.5-point underdog
2007: WON 42-30 as a 7.5-point underdog
 
Each of Georgia's upset victories certainly has its memorable moment(s): Florida's incomplete pass on a two-point conversion attempt and a try for victory in '74, Appleby to Washington the following year, Robert Edwards running wild against the Gators in '97, and Knowshon Moreno doing the same a decade later.  However, besides the games all being played in Jacksonville, there was hardly any other similarity I could find amongst the four Bulldog upsets.
 
Searching for a historical statistical trend, so to speak, I dug deep into the 17 times the Bulldogs have previously faced Florida as big dogs, looking at yardage totals, first downs, time of possession, and even examined if those "nasty" winds in Jacksonville were a factor in the outcome.  I found nothing, that is, until there it was as obvious as spotting a cocktail at the WLOCP perhaps, the most important of all statistics; one a team tries to force, yet not commit: TURNOVERS.
 
Of the 17 times the Bulldogs have entered Georgia-Florida as a significant underdog, just ONCE (Florida in 2001) did the winner of the game commit more turnovers than the opponent. 
 
I've heard it all week from the pundits: If Georgia has any chance for a victory tomorrow, its defense will need to play up to its talent level, the offense will need to somehow establish a running game, our kicking game cannot fail, and/or the Bulldogs' special teams cannot yield good field position.  I agree with them all to some degree, but believe there's a more important component.
 
If history has a way of repeating itself, and it evidently and continuously has in this series, the winner of the turnover battle tomorrow will almost assuredly win the game.  If the Bulldogs can do more forcing in Jacksonville than committing, expect a fifth game to be added to their short list of entering The Cocktail Party as a big dog, but leaving as prevailing Dawgs.

3 comments:

AmeliaDawg said...

"the winner of the turnover battle tomorrow will almost assuredly win the game." Kudos Mr. Garbin.

Otto said...

Patrick, I think you deserve the Leonard Losers award of prgnostication

Otto said...

*prognostication