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The one stat that will decide the Florida-Georgia game

The team with the most rushing yards has won the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party 12 times in a row.
Whether Florida Gators running back Lamical Perine and his teammates can puncture Georgia's run defense could decide the game in Jacksonville. [ BRONTE WITTPENN | Times ]
Published Oct. 24, 2018

If recent history is any indication, Saturday's top-10 matchup between Florida and Georgia won't be decided by Gators quarterback Feleipe Franks or whoever plays for the Bulldogs (Justin Fields, Jake Fromm or both).

It'll be the run game.

The team with the most rushing yards has won each of the last 12 meetings between the rivals. That's not a shock — teams might run more often when they're in the lead. But it's still a telling statistic.

And it's not great for the Gators.

Georgia's run game is 12th nationally in yards per attempt (5.78). Florida's 19 spots lower (5.10). Their rushing defenses are comparable; both are giving up slightly more than 4.1 yards per rush.

The Bulldogs' Sony Michel/Nick Chubb tandem is gone, but they still have a talented backfield. Bruiser Elijah Holyfield is averaging 7.5 yards on his 65 carries. The speedy D'Andre Swift is averaging 5.1. James Cook — Dalvin's younger brother and a one-time Florida State commit — is averaging 5.5.

""From what I've seen they're very physical. They like to get to the outside all the time," Gators linebacker Rayshad Jackson said. "Swift, he likes shaky stuff, and Holyfield, he likes to truck people. …

"We're all capable of trucking him back, so we got this."

Whether Jackson and his teammates can back up that claim will likely decide game — and which team remains alive in the SEC East.