ATLANTA — Tim Tebow runs the show at Florida. Knowshon Moreno just runs at Georgia.
Those two players will have a lot to say about Saturday’s Southeastern Conference showdown in Jacksonville between No. 5 Florida, a 5«-point favorite, and No. 8 Georgia, with the winner becoming the odds-on favorite to represent the East in the SEC championship game.
Tebow, last year’s Heisman Trophy winner, hasn’t had to run the ball as much as he did a year ago, choosing instead to make use of several speedsters in the backfield, including Jeff Demos and Percy Harvin. Still, Tebow has done enough on the ground to tie former Gator great Emmitt Smith for the school record for career rushing touchdowns with 36.
Moreno has had only one game in this bitter rivalry, but it was a good one, reminding Bulldog fans of the years when Herschel Walker destroyed the Gators with 238, 192 and 219-yard rushing efforts against the Gators, scoring eight touchdowns on the ground.
Moreno had 188 yards and three scores on 33 carries in Georgia’s 42-30 victory over the Gators last year.
“I think a lot of the guys on the team are ready for this game,” Moreno said. “We are focused and we know it’s not going to be easy. They are a very good defense and we need to be focused.”
Tebow and the Gators didn’t take kindly to Georgia’s rushing to the end zone when Moreno scored, drawing a pair of 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalties, but serving to fire up the Bulldogs the rest of the way.
Florida hasn’t said much about the “Gator Stomp” this week, but you can bet it’s on their mind.
“Even today you still have hard feelings about it,” Tebow said of last year’s loss. “As a football player and as an athlete you’ve got to learn to bounce back and learn from your losses and get over them.”
“We know we are probably playing the hottest team in the country and probably the fastest team in America,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said. “Tebow does a great job of running the show.”
Georgia showed something when it beat LSU at Baton Rouge last week. It’s not likely the Dogs will perform on that level two weeks in a row. Florida 35-28.
Elsewhere around the SEC, with Vanderbilt having an open date:
Arkansas State at No. 2 Alabama
This one features two veteran quarterbacks — junior Corey Leonard of the visiting Red Wolves and senior John Parker Wilson of ‘Bama. Leonard has thrown for 4,795 yards and 34 scores in his career, Wilson for 6,911 and 45 TDs. Wilson has a much better supporting cast. Alabama 35-10.
No. 19 Tulsa at Arkansas
The Golden Hurricane has lost 16 in a row in the series it trails 52-15-2. This year unbeaten Tulsa has the team capable of ending the long losing streak, with quarterback David Johnson heading a talented offensive unit. Looks like a long afternoon for the Razorbacks. Tulsa 31-21.
Auburn at Ole Miss
The Tigers have won 13 of the last 15 games in the series and own an 8-1 record in games played in Oxford. This year the Rebels will turn the tide, riding Jevan Snead’s passing to victory. Ole Miss 21-14.
Kentucky at Mississippi State
With leading receivers Dickie Lyons and Derrick Locke out with season-ending knee injuries, the Wildcats are having a tough time moving the ball. Mississippi State 14-7.
Tulane at No. 15 LSU
Each teams has an outstanding running back — Tulane’s Andre Anderson and LSU’s Charles Scott. Anderson ranks No. 8 in the nation with 123 yards per game. Scott averages 110 per game. Scott will reach his average, Anderson won’t, with LSU downing the Green Wave for the 17th straight time. LSU 42-10.
Tennessee at South Carolina
The struggling Vols meet a team they’ve dominated through the years, going 21-3-2 in the series, including a 14-2 run since Carolina joined the SEC. Coach Phillip Fulmer has a 14-1 record against the Gamecocks.
Carolina’s defense will keep the Vols bottled up long enough for its second victory in four years. South Carolina 17-10.