GAINESVILLE -- The forecasted weather for Saturday’s Georgia-Florida matchup in Jacksonville is particularly apropos for two struggling, depleted and disappointed teams.
The Gators (4-3, 3-2 SEC) and Bulldogs (4-3, 3-2) meet at EverBank Field at 3:30 p.m. (CBS) on a likely gloomy, windy and rainy afternoon.
Only a monsoon could make this usually storied game – dubbed this season as “The World’s Largest Infirmary” – any uglier.
Both bitter rivals are mired in two-game losing streaks and have been ravaged by a combined 14 key season-ending injuries.
Although South Carolina’s overtime win over Missouri gave the two schools long-shot hopes of reaching the SEC Championship Game, the East title is more like a Tolkien fantasy at this point.
“The reason this game means so much is because it means so little,” CBS analyst Gary Danielson said.
Georgia and Florida opened the season in the top 10, but now both are unranked and meet with major question marks.
The Bulldogs, who lost at Vanderbilt for the first time in 22 years, have been slowed by a decimated offense and a young, inexperienced defense that hasn’t played a complete game.
Meanwhile, Florida’s woeful offense continues to scramble to find any momentum, while its once-dominant defense suddenly cannot stop the run without star tackle Dominique Easley.
The Gators lost another key contributor this week (left tackle D.J. Humphries, sprained MCL). But Georgia tailback Todd Gurley – who rushed for 118 yards against the Gators in the 17-9 win in 2012 – returns for the first time since suffering a high-ankle sprain in the win over LSU on Sep. 28.
“This will be a good challenge for us and it’ll just add to the element of the game having that guy back,” UF linebacker Michael Taylor said. “I knew [Gurley] was going to come back anyway with him sitting out all them games. He wasn’t going to miss this one.”
The Gators hope to avoid dropping three straight to Bulldogs, something they haven’t done since 1987-89, the year before Steve Spurrier returned and flexed his dominance over the Bulldogs by winning 11 of 12.
“Our last two trips to Jacksonville we’ve been minus-four in the turnover margin, so you can cut it up however you want to we need to take care of the football this weekend,” UF coach Will Muschamp said.
Muschamp, who’s been on both sidelines of the rivalry, has never won in the series but said being 0-2 as a head coach is worse than being 0-4 as a Bulldogs player.
"None of it is fun,” Muschamp said. “But certainly being here at the University of Florida and understanding the importance of this game to us and our people, we need to get a win."