JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — No. 1 Georgia and its top-ranked defense dominated Florida, scoring three touchdowns off turnovers in a 12-play sequence that turned “The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party” into another lopsided affair in a 34-7 victory Saturday.
Georgia (8-0, 6-0 Southeastern Conference) won its 12th consecutive game since getting steamrolled in Jacksonville a year ago. The Bulldogs’ injury-riddled defense allowed 571 yards in that one, the most in coach Kirby Smart’s six seasons.
Georgia vowed to not let it happen again and responded with another demoralizing effort that might be their most impressive all season.
Florida (4-4, 2-4) managed no points, 11 first downs and 214 yards through three quarters and looked like its decades-old, NCAA-record scoring streak might be in jeopardy down the stretch. But the Gators finally got on the scoreboard with 2:49 remaining, extending the streak to 418 games. They have scored in every outing since getting shut out by Auburn in 1988.
The late touchdown run by Emory Jones did little to negate Georgia’s mastery for three-plus hours on a cool, sundrenched afternoon. All the empty seats on Florida’s side of TIAA Bank Field told the real story.
This one was over by halftime.
And Georgia’s defense deserved a toast for making it happen.
Nolan Smith started the onslaught by ripping the ball out of Anthony Richardson’s arms near the end of an 8-yard run. Richardson was making his first career start, getting the nod over turnover-prone Jones.
James Cook sliced his way through Florida’s defense for a 10-yard touchdown run on the ensuring play.
Two plays later, Travon Walker tipped Richardson’s pass over the middle and Smith intercepted it. Stetson Bennett, who started his fourth consecutive game in place of JT Daniels, found Kearis Jackson for a 36-yard score on first down.
Trailing 17-0, Richardson had Florida on the move before throwing a pass that Nakobe Dean picked off and returned 50 yards for a touchdown.
That was plenty for Georgia’s defense.
The Bulldogs scored three touchdowns in 2 minutes, 9 seconds. The last team to score three TDs in that little time at the end of a half was Utah State, which did it in a 52-26 win over Boise State in 2015.
Florida went 0 for 2 on trick plays, throwing incomplete passes both times.
The first one came with Richardson and Jones both on the field in . Jones lateraled to Richardson, who threw into double coverage. Jacob Copeland failed to make the catch.
The second one was a halfback pass by Malik Davis, threw incomplete to Xzavier Henderson.
Walker hurried both plays.
Georgia: Smart's defense looks every bit capable of carrying the Bulldogs to their first national championship since 1980. The unit it hard to run on, tougher to block and has enough depth to overcome injuries.
Florida: The Gators opened the season thinking they had two quarterbacks. It's looking more and more like they don't even have one. Richardson struggled all day against Georgia's vaunted defense. He completed 12 of 20 passes for 82 yards and added 26 more on the ground.
Jones was better late, finishing 10 of 14 for 112 yards.
Georgia will surely retain its spot atop the AP college football poll and probably will begin the season's first College Football Playoff rankings at No. 1 on Tuesday night.
Georgia hosts Missouri next Saturday. The Bulldogs have won seven straight in the series.
Florida plays at South Carolina next Saturday. The Gators have won three in a row and five of the last six.