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Gators stay alive in CFB playoff race

The No. 11 Florida Gators needed to beat the Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday afternoon to stay alive in the College Football Playoff race. They did so, and passed all the eye tests with flying colors.

Florida completely dominated a once-relevant Georgia team, winning 27-3 at EverBank Field at Jacksonville, Fla. It was a demolition led by three first-half turnovers off the fingers of the Bulldogs, falling behind 20-0 at halftime. Georgia was never able to get much going against the Gators, who have one of the best defenses in the country.

Ultimately, Georgia committed five turnovers and was outgained 413-223 by Florida, which was starting its second-string quarterback due to Will Grier being suspended for the rest of the season (and the first six games of next season) for a performance enhancing drugs violation.

With the win, Florida moves to 7-1 with its only loss coming on the road at Tiger Stadium against the No. 4 LSU Tigers. When you factor in that the defeat only came by seven points, Florida won’t be hurt all that much by that loss in the polls.

Looking ahead, the Gators will have a favorable schedule for the rest of the regular season. Florida hosts the Vanderbilt Commodores next week before visiting the South Carolina Gamecocks. The following contest is a home game against the Florida Atlantic Owls. Then, the No. 17 Florida State Seminoles come to The Swamp, hoping to spoil any championship dreams.

Looking at the SEC East standings, Florida is in prime position to play in the conference title game. The Gators are 5-1 in conference, with the second-place team being the Bulldogs. With Florida having the tiebreaker due to its head-to-head win on Saturday, the Gators can clinch a berth in the SEC Championship Game by beating the Commodores.

Should Florida take care of Vanderbilt and then win its following three games, it will likely be playing for a spot in the College Football Playoff in the conference championship. Barring some kind of miracle, the Gators will be playing either LSU or the Alabama Crimson Tide. Those two schools play each other next Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium, with the winner firmly in the driver’s seat.

Florida was not supposed to be anything special coming into the season, not being ranked until after it beat the No. 3 Ole Miss Rebels. The Gators instead of proving to be a major force, led by a great defense that turns turnovers into points.

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