Asked what was the biggest key to defeating Florida on Saturday, Georgia coach Mark Richt did not hesitate even a second.
“Well, first and foremost, the turnover ratio I think is by far the most important stat besides the score,” he said.
Based on that formula, the odds the Bulldogs securing another victory should be pretty good.
Georgia heads to Jacksonville this weekend leading the nation in turnover at plus-13, or 1.86 per game. That currently stands as the fourth-best mark in school history. The Bulldogs were a plus-23 in 1980 — the year they won the national championship, plus-22 in 1982 and plus-17 in 1979.
The best seasons under Richt have been 2003, 2005 and 2012. Georgia finished at plus-11 each year.
What makes the Bulldogs’ No. 1 ranking this year — they’re tied with Ole Miss — even more impressive is the fact that the Bulldogs ended last season ranked 102nd in the country in that category.
And while Georgia’s defense is creating takeaways at a good pace (17, or 2.4 per game), the Bulldogs are doing a particular good job of taking care of the football on offense. To date they’ve lost just one fumble and thrown only four interceptions.
“I could sit here and brag about how great we’ve done securing the ball, but the reality is we did fumble eight times,” Richt said. “But somehow only lost one of them. It’s not like we’ve been perfect in our ball security. We’ve just been blessed to be able to get on the ball when the ball got on the ground. So we got to continue to work hard at that.”
Florida has been at the opposite end of the spectrum this season. Though the Gators have caused 16 turnovers for their opponents, they’ve committed 16 themselves for a turnover margin of zero.
Said senior receiver Michael Bennett, who lost the Bulldogs’ only fumble in the first quarter of the first game this season: “Luck definitely plays a role in it. We put the ball on the ground five times against Missouri and recovered all of them. So we’ve definitely got to continue to work on it. But that’s what it takes to be a championship team sometimes.”