Florida-Georgia: talking ’bout those sc-sc-sc-schedules

Look, I get it.  I really do.  Florida should be favored over Georgia to win the SEC East because the Gators appear to have an easier path to get there.  Jimmy Hyams over at MrSEC.com provides a good summary of the differences the schools face:

… The schedule is a big reason why I’m taking Florida to win the East over Georgia and be in the hunt for the BCS national championship game.

It’s not that the Gators’ schedule is easy. It’s just easier.

Georgia faces six coaches who have won a national championship and another who went 13-0.

Florida faces four coaches who won a national championship and catches two football powers – Miami and Florida State – on a downhill slide. The Hurricanes and Seminoles combined to win 12 games last year. When is the last time that happened?

Georgia plays Alabama, LSU and Auburn from the West Division.

Florida plays Ole Miss, Arkansas and LSU from the West division.

Georgia plays nine teams that had a winning record and one of two teams – South Carolina – that beat the Dawgs last year.

Florida plays seven teams that had a winning record but Arkansas (10-4), Hawaii (12-1) and Kentucky (8-5) don’t figure to be as good as last year.

Georgia plays at South Carolina, at Arizona State and hosts Alabama in consecutive games, then plays on the road against LSU, Florida, Kentucky and Auburn in consecutive weeks before closing the campaign against Georgia Tech.

Florida plays teams with a winning record just twice in back-to-back weeks and two of those teams (Arkansas and Kentucky) will be fortunate to go .500 this season.

The spacing of Florida’s opponents gives the Gators a huge advantage over Georgia. And Florida’s three toughest SEC games are preceded by an open date (before Tennessee), Arkansas (before LSU) and Kentucky (before Georgia).

Georgia plays at South Carolina before going to Arizona State, at ASU before hosting Alabama, at LSU before facing Florida, Florida before a trip to Kentucky and at Kentucky before going to Auburn.

Like I said, fine.  I get it.

There are a few bones I’d like to pick, though, with some of what Hyams has to say.  The biggest quibble I’ve got with his schedule analysis is that he seems to want to have things both ways with regard to Florida playing Miami and FSU.  In contrast to the quote above, here’s what he writes later in the post with regard to Florida’s OOC schedule, which he ranks as the toughest in the SEC:

Florida: Gators face a BCS bowl team in Hawaii and while Miami and FSU are down, they are still dangerous, in-stat (sic) rivals.

Stop chuckling over the Hawaii comment for a moment.  How can a school be down and dangerous?  Especially when the two combined for twelve losses last year, and one didn’t even go to a bowl?

The other part of his post that I question is the non-schedule case he makes for the Gators winning the East.

… Here are two other reasons to favor Florida.

One, the Gators have the best offense in the SEC, if not the nation. They led the SEC in scoring (42.5 points) and were fourth in the nation. They averaged 457 total yards per game. They scored at least 30 points in 11 games, at least 40 in eight. And running backs Emmanuel Moody (a Southern Cal transfer) and Chris Rainey should provide more balance in the run game to keep Tim Tebow under 200 carries.

Secondly, Florida’s Achilles’ Heel last year – pass defense – is easier to overcome than a bad run defense or a bad run offense. Last year, Florida and Tennessee had the worst pass defense in the SEC, yet won nine and 10 games, respectively. And of the seven SEC teams that gave up at least 200 passing yards per game, six had a winning record and four won at least eight games.

By contrast, the two teams with the worst rushing defense in the SEC won a combined nine games. Florida, somewhat surprisingly, led the SEC in run defense, giving up 103.3 yards per game, and an SEC-best 3.0 yards per carry. And the top six rushing teams in the SEC last year each won at least nine games. Florida was third in rushing.

So favor Florida to win the SEC.

Now I give him points for not indulging in the reflexive “Florida’s pass defense will be better this year” mindset that has been at the base of many pundits’ belief that UF is destined for greatness this season.  And I agree that on paper, the Gators look to have the best offense in the conference in ’08.

But he overstates the case on good teams with bad pass defenses.  Yes, Florida and Tennessee finished at the bottom of the conference standings in pass defense last year.  But that was an anomaly.  If you check the SEC stats going back to 2002, that’s the only time something like that’s happened.

Here’s the list of the bottom dwellers in pass defense in the SEC during that period:

  • 2002:  Kentucky, Arkansas
  • 2003:  Mississippi, Mississippi State
  • 2004:  Arkansas, Tennessee
  • 2005:  Vanderbilt, Kentucky
  • 2006:  Mississippi State, Kentucky

I don’t see any SEC champions in that bunch.

And on his point about rushing defense, he’s right, Florida led the conference last year.  The thing is, the Gators did so in ’06, as well, with even more impressive numbers (72.5 ypg, 2.7 ypc).  Their sack numbers declined from one year to the next, which explains some of the drop.  But here’s the thing:  their best defensive lineman (Harvey) from last season is gone and they’re counting on a true freshman coming in and making an impact at defensive tackle.  Maybe it all works out, but there’s something of a leap of faith in there, too.

Honestly, I don’t see UF losing four games this year, at least not if Tebow avoids serious injury.  I don’t think the Gators’ overall talent has declined and the schedule, Miami and FSU included, is easier than what they faced last year.

But one thing to consider here is that there’s an ebb and flow to handling the offensive trends that drive college football.  Yes, the spread in all its variations is the current hot scheme.  But defenses adapt.  That’s the job of a competent defensive coordinator.  And coaches figure things out.  If you’re skeptical about this as it relates to Superman and the head pointer, note that the top three teams in the SEC last year in scoring defense were Auburn, LSU and Georgia.  Perhaps you’ll recall how the Gators fared against each of them.



Filed under Gators, Gators..., Georgia Football, The Blogosphere

13 responses to “Florida-Georgia: talking ’bout those sc-sc-sc-schedules

  1. AceG8tr

    Who is the true freshman who you believe we are relying on at DT?


  2. Will

    Who was that again, Senator?


  3. Thomas Brown

    Let’s see now. We are talking schedules. The teams discussed today are Florida and Georgia schedules, both last year’s and this year’s schedules.

    Last year, Florida played 5 Final AP Poll Top 25 teams, and Tim Tebow and company Lost 4.

    Last year, Georgia played 4 Final AP Poll Top 25 teams, and Matthew Stafford, our Defense, and Knowshon Moreno Lost only 1.

    Therefore based upon this performance, or lack thereof on Florida’s part, the team with the 2nd longest Winning Streak in the nation at 7 in a Row including 3 Final AP Poll Top 25 teams who Lost nearly no one, is not as good as the team who Lost 4 of the 5 games they played against Top 25 teams by direct comparison.

    The facts of the matter as that Florida Lost Andre Caldwell (Started every game All-SEC and Florida’s All-Time Leader in Pass Receptions), Jarred Fayson (transferred to a team who can pass the football), Tony Joiner (Started every game on Pass Defense), Clint McMillan (Started every game DL), and Derrick Harvey (Started every game DL and was All-SEC) who all ended their careers without a Winning Record against UGA.

    Florida also has been moving their OL to DL because Florida had no DL. Now, this season, Florida Loses Right Offensive Tackle Carlton Medder who Started every game and was All-SEC. And, Florida Loses the Center Drew Miller who Started every game and also was All-SEC.

    Florida also Lost its Defensive Coordinator Greg Mattison to the NFL Baltimore Ravens.

    Florida fans talk so big, while Miami and Florida State do suck, have sucked, and will suck.


  4. Thomas Brown

    If you disregard Arizona State, Central Michigan and Georgia Tech (who obviously are all 3 better than Miami and FSU), I’d still much rather face down Miami and down Florida State than have to face Auburn and Alabama, even without all these All-SEC and All-Time Best Florida players and coaches now gone from a team who Lost 4 of the 5 games against Top 25 teams, and all of whom ended their careers without a Winning Record against UGA.


  5. Xon

    Central Michigan is “obviously” better than Miami and FSU?

    Other than that, it was very entertaining.


  6. Who was that again, Senator?

    Why, Omar Hunter, of course. 😉


  7. travis fain

    Senator – when do we get to see your predictions for the SEC and the nation?


  8. I won’t do anything at all ’til a week or so before the season starts… and it will probably look like what I did last year, a gut feeling about how the SEC looks going into the season.


  9. Thomas Brown

    For God’s sake. Booby Bowden has not done a thing since the very day that Coach Richt quit that gig for this one and it has left FSU without 1 single quarterback in all these years.

    Miami, likewise, is in shamble and has to shame itself it addition.

    And, you what ?

    Disrespect Central Michigan ?

    Central Michigan has earned their respect recently while Miami of Florida and Florida State have been big huge flops in the America’s Cupcake Conference recently. Central Michigan, in case you have not been following it, is a Stassen Win/Loss Top 25 team for the last several years.

    Neither Florida State nor Miami of Florida are in the Top 50 in Wins the several years.

    Florida State is 51 st in the nation in Wins the last several years at :


    Miami of Florida is worse, believe it or not, at 65 th in the nation in Wins the last several years at :


    Central Michigan is 23rd in the nation in Wins the last several years at :


    Trust me when I tell you that coachless Miami of Florida and should have been coachless many years ago hanging on to just edge out incontinent Joe Papa Florida State, would both Love to have gone 18-10 in America’s Cupcake Conference the last several years.

    Trust me.

    Central Michigan plays teams every year like Purdue, Indiana, Georgia, Kansas, Clemson, Boston College Michigan, Kentucky, Penn State, and I do not expect Central Michigan to be very happy losing their last game to Purdue 48-51 considering Central Michigan brings back for the next 2 years their record setting quarterback Dan LeFevour.

    I would much rather be Central Michigan, were I either Florida State or Miami of Florida the last several years running.

    And, I would far prefer to play either Florida State or Miami of Florida than Central Michigan.

    The biggest problems the America’s Cupcake Conference has are Miami of Florida and FSU. It has been disgraceful both on and off the field, and frankly both have to change their coach because of it.

    But, thanks for the compliment that it is entertaining except that you think Miami of Florida and Florida State are doing better than Central Michigan is. I don’t and neither do either of the 2 coaches at Florida State or the walking dead man at Miami of Florida.


  10. Central Michigan plays teams every year like Purdue, Indiana, Georgia, Kansas, Clemson, Boston College Michigan, Kentucky, Penn State, and I do not expect Central Michigan to be very happy losing their last game to Purdue 48-51 considering Central Michigan brings back for the next 2 years their record setting quarterback Dan LeFevour.

    Now that’s funny, Thomas.

    I thought you were all about defining schedules as being for the entire season – including the conference. And the MAC is an awful, awful conference.

    I just took a look in Sagarin over the past five years – CMU never comes within smelling distance of either FSU or Miami in SOS in any of them.

    You rattle off this lengthy list of BCS teams that CMU has played recently. How many of those teams has CMU actually beaten?

    If CMU played in the ACC, it would win three or four games a year, max.


  11. Thomas Brown

    Which is it Bluto, sir ?

    The schedule is just only out-of-conference games that you break down EVERY discussion of schedules to on your blogs, or the America’s Cupcake Conference has not been any Stinking Good the last several years in a row during which time the entire record of FSU is 14-12 and the entire record of Miami of Florida is 12-13.


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