Jake Fromm ends Florida’s Playoff hopes, Georgia on top in SEC East

(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

Jake Fromm ends the Florida Gators’ College Football Playoff dreams, as his Georgia Bulldogs remain in the SEC East driver’s seat after winning Saturday.

The annual rivalry between the Florida Gators and the Georgia Bulldogs down in Jacksonville was tight heading into the fourth quarter. Florida had turned the ball over three times in the first three frames. Georgia had its issues both in the red zone and running the football up the middle.

The Dawgs held a 23-14 lead heading into the final 15 minutes, but Florida added a field goal to make it a one-score game midway through the fourth. However, it was Georgia sophomore quarterback Jake Fromm who was the difference maker in this ball game.

Fromm has had plenty of big-game experience, as he led Georgia to a national title bout only a year ago as a true freshman. That being said, he struggled in Georgia’s previous game, a dismal effort on the road against the LSU Tigers in Baton Rouge. Last year, Fromm barely threw the ball against Florida in that laugher against Jim McElwain’s team. But this year, it had to be different.

Georgia wanted to beat Florida on the ground again this season. While both Nick Chubb and Sony Michel now play in the NFL, the Dawgs had faith in its new dynamic tailback tandem of Elijah Holyfield and D’Andre Swift.

However, Georgia could not run the ball up the middle of the Florida defense for the life of them. Florida defensive lineman Jabari Zuniga looked All-SEC stuffing the run in this game. Simply put, Fromm had to win the game with his arm.

He did just that. Fromm completed 17 of 24 passes for 240 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions, as Georgia won the game decidedly, 36-17. Fromm made several outstanding throws on the afternoon, never really feeling the pressure of the Florida pass rush.

He was especially lethal on third down in this ball game. Georgia was 8-14 on third downs against Florida. It got to the point in the second half where everybody in TIAA Bank Stadium and everybody watching this one on CBS knew Fromm was going to throw. There was nothing the Florida secondary could do to keep its SEC title hopes and College Football Playoff dreams alive.

Fromm completed his 17 passes to seven different receivers. He had a great rapport all game with wide receiver Jeremiah Holloman, who had four receptions for 48 yards and two touchdowns. His first quarter back-shoulder fade was spectacular. Fromm’s placement on that ball was NFL-level stuff. He’s still only a true sophomore, but we are starting to see glimpses of him being a serious pro prospect in a few years.

Fromm would connect again with Holloman in the third quarter for six points. While he didn’t throw for a touchdown to his tight end Isaac Nauta, Fromm did complete four-straight passes at the end of the first half to him, which set up a weirdly timed Rodrigo Blankenship field goal. Georgia had two timeouts left, six seconds on the clock and should have had one more quick shot at the end zone before attempting the try.

All that aside, the play that essentially won the game for Georgia was a third-down pass to wide receiver Terry Godwin for a 24-yard touchdown. That play put Georgia up 29-17 after the failed two-point attempt. Florida would punt on its next possession. Georgia would finally break off a big run into the end zone, as Swift found pay dirt on a 33-yard scamper to put this one out of reach.

Overall, Georgia improves to 7-1 (5-1) on the year, while Florida falls to 6-2 (4-2) on the season. Should the Missouri Tigers hold off the Kentucky Wildcats in Columbia, Georgia would be firmly in the driver’s seat to win the SEC East.

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The Dawgs do have to play in Lexington next Saturday, but look to be on a collision course with the winner of Alabama versus LSU next week in Atlanta for the SEC Championship. This was not a pretty game for Georgia, but the Dawgs have now won two in a row over arch rival Florida. Georgia can thank Fromm’s right arm on third down for its biggest win of the season.