End of regulation: Tied at 31
We head to overtime - barely. And a Les Miles-like decision by Georgia didn't prove costly.
This will be the first time the Georgia-Florida game has gone to overtime, and it's the Bulldogs' first OT game since 2007, when they won at Alabama. It's Florida's first OT game since 2005, when it won in two overtimes against Vanderbilt.
After a curious decision to throw for it - thus allowing Florida to save a timeout - the Gators took over at their own 42 with 30 seconds left. They also had a timeout, thanks to Georgia deciding to pass for it deep in its own territory.
Georgia's defense held, but Florida's punt team came up big, downing the ball at the 4.
Florida had all three timeouts. It only had to use two of them, after the Bulldogs threw incomplete on second down.
Punter Drew Butler may have bailed the team out, with a high punt that couldn't be returned. Plus, the Bulldogs knew that Florida would have to drive pretty deep in order to be in field goal territory.
Still, the Georgia coaching staff may have sweated out those last 30 seconds harder than they have any their entire careers.
Oh, and Branden Smith's punt return, after the defense held, was not so smart either. But in that last minute Georgia has been more lucky than good, and it's worked.
4:36 left in fourth quarter, Georgia ties it at 31
It's pinball football time.
Florida scored, and Georgia answered. And there's plenty of time left.
Oh, and by the way A.J. Green remains a fairly good football player.
The receiver was the star of that drive, with Aaron Murray and Brandon Boykin playing supporting roles. Boykin started things with a long kickoff return.
Then on third down Green made a diving, stretching catch, holding on as he hit the ground. It's probably the second-best catch I've seen from him this season, after the incredible touchdown at Colorado.
A few plays later, Georgia was facing third-and-goal from the 15. When Green went over the middle, he was trailed by three Gators. They needed one more.
Murray fit in a perfect pass, Green caught in his lap, and after Blair Walsh's extra point, we were tied again.
The only concern for Georgia is whether it left Florida too much time.
6:56 left in fourth quarter, Florida re-takes lead, 31-24
OK, the Georgia offense is back on the clock. And now the clock does matter.
Florida came through a very Florida-like drive: A couple first downs then a big play, with Trey Burton taking a shotgun snap and bursting 51 yards down the right side for the touchdown.
Urban Meyer talked for two weeks about the lack of big plays for his offense. That was Florida's longest run of the game, and longest scoring play.
There's plenty of time for the Bulldog offense to answer, but not much margin for error. Expect a lot of passing, because that's what's been working, but also because they need quick strikes. The Bulldogs are in the awkward position of either having to score or, if they have to punt or kick a field goal, not taking too long to do so.
9:01 left in fourth quarter, Georgia ties it at 24
What a change we've seen here. Aaron Murray has moved back into hero status, passing for a touchdown then rushing for the two-point conversion.
The Bulldog band is playing, and the red-clan fans are waving their pom-poms, at least those that have them. The rest are just on their feet and excited?
Orson Charles caught the touchdown pass, and in so doing went over 100 yards for the first time in his career. My, how things open up when you get the tight ends involved.
New game, and the onus falls back on the Georgia defense.
10:48 left in fourth quarter, Georgia now trails 24-16
We've had a lot of tactical, game management situations over the last few minutes.
First came Georgia's decision to go for two, and the try failed. Then when Florida drove downfield, and faced third-and-6, Georgia used a defensive timeout.
That hasn't tended to work out much for the Bulldogs this year, who have struggled on third downs whether or not they huddled up to go over the play. But this time the defense held - and it was Florida's time to make a call.
Try another field goal with Chas Henry, who has struggled in the role and has already missed one today? Or go for it on fourth-and-2? The Gators chose the former, and Henry got it.
So now we go back to Georgia's decision to go for the two-point conversion. Hmmmm.....
14:57 left in fourth quarter, Georgia now within 21-16
That wasn't hard: Washaun Ealey practically walked into the end zone on the first play of the fourth quarter, and Georgia is back within five.
But then came a debatable decision to for two. The try - an Aaroon Murray pass attempt - was no good, so Georgia still needs a touchdown or a couple field goals.
Clearly the Bulldogs would rather be down three. But with pretty much an entire quarter left, was it too early to try for two? Now if Florida gets a field goal, Georgia has to go for two again.
Plus, some of the momentum is taken away by failing on the two-point try.
On the other hand, you can definitely see where the coaches would feel the chances of making it were pretty good, the way their offense has moved downfield this half. So maybe the play call was the problem.
And, Florida probably won't even attempt a field goal unless it's a chip shot.
So really, the decision could have gone either way there.
Saturday, October 30, 2010
End of regulation: Tied at 31