No. 12 Georgia upsets No. 3 Florida
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Shawn Williams' criticism will be remembered as a challenge.
And No. 12 Georgia responded better than anyone could have expected.
Five days after Williams ripped his defensive teammates for playing too soft, the Bulldogs turned in their best performance of the season — one that will go down in Florida-Georgia lore.
The Bulldogs stuffed the third-ranked Gators from every angle, forcing six turnovers in a 17-9 victory Saturday that left them on the cusp of the Southeastern Conference championship game.
Call it the World's Largest Outdoor Turnover Party, and it gave Georgia consecutive wins in the heated rivalry for the first time since 1989.
“I'd say we're not soft,” coach Mark Richt said. “Our seniors played well, and I know it's a game they'll remember for the rest of their lives.”
With the victory — just the fifth in the last 23 meetings for Georgia — the Bulldogs (7-1, 5-1 SEC) can clinch the East and a spot in the conference title game with wins against Mississippi and Auburn the next two weeks.
If Georgia plays defense like it did against Florida — it was the first time since 1988 that UGA held the Gators without a touchdown — getting to Atlanta should be a mere formality.
“Shawn challenged us, and we took it personal,” Jones said. “As men, when another man challenges you, it will be personal.”
Jones had another huge game against Florida (7-1, 6-1). The junior, who had four sacks in last year's 24-20 victory, finished with 13 tackles, three sacks and two forced fumbles.
Williams' harsh words didn't go over well with coaches and teammates. But Georgia had allowed at least 20 points in six of its first seven games and gave up 206 yards rushing last week at Kentucky.
Jones missed that game with a sprained ankle. With him back, Georgia looked like a different defense, and it surely helped that Florida self-destructed at every turn.
The Gators, who turned the ball over just four times in their first seven games, had four in the first 36 minutes Saturday.