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No. 9 Georgia 'physically whipped' in 38-20 loss to rival Florida in Jacksonville

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JACKSONVILLE, Florida — It wasn't about ending a three-game winning streak in the series.

It wasn't about losing to a rival in lopsided fashion.

It wasn't about missing a chance to move closer to the Southeastern Conference title game.

For Georgia, this was about getting "physically whipped."

The ninth-ranked Bulldogs gave up 418 yards rushing in a humbling, 38-20 loss to Florida on Saturday.

Georgia knew the ground attack was coming — everyone did, really — and did nothing to stop it.

And it wasn't a good feeling.

"They physically whipped us," Bulldogs coach Mark Richt said. "That's probably the best description. ... It hurts, no doubt. Losing hurts, period."

It was so bad for Georgia (6-2, 4-2 SEC) that defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt felt compelled to talk to reporters after a game for the first time this season.

"When you play like that, you need to come look people in the eye and tell it like it is," Pruitt said. "We got embarrassed by a team that outplayed and out-toughed us."

Matt Jones ran 25 times for a career-high 197 yards and two touchdowns. Kelvin Taylor, whose NFL father, Fred, has his name emblazoned on a wall inside EverBank Field, carried 25 times for a career-best 192 yards and two scores.

The dynamic duo became the first Florida teammates to top the century mark on the ground since Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey against Kentucky in 2011.

They may have also helped save coach Will Muschamp's job.

PHOTO: Georgia quarterback Hutson Mason is brought down by Florida defensive lineman Dante Fowler during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014, in Jacksonville, Fla. Florida won 38-20. (AP Photo/Atlanta Journal Constitution, Brant Sanderlin)
Georgia quarterback Hutson Mason is brought down by Florida defensive lineman Dante Fowler during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014, in Jacksonville, Fla. Florida won 38-20. (AP Photo/Atlanta Journal Constitution, Brant Sanderlin)

"I know how frustrating it is for our fans," said Muschamp, whose team had lost 10 of its past 13 games. "I hear it. I get their emails. I'm just really happy for everyone in the organization to know we won in dominating fashion."

The Gators (4-3, 3-3) talked all week about winning for Muschamp and for themselves. They also predicted they were going to run the ball "until the wheels come off."

They responded with their best overall performance since the season opener.

Florida finished with 418 yards rushing, the program's most since gaining 466 against New Mexico in 1989 when NFL Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith was the team's star.

"It's tough to admit that the other team beat us, but Florida did today," Georgia offensive tackle John Theus said. "They physically beat us and that hurts. You never want to have to say your opponent was more physical than you, but Florida was in this game. They soundly beat us and that doesn't feel good."

Florida's rushing total included a 21-yard scoring run by former walk-on Michael McNeely on a fake field goal that kicked off a dominant second quarter. McNeely took the fourth-and-9 snap and went untouched around the right side to tie the game at 7.

The call was reminiscent of Richt's fourth-down gambles in 2011, when he seemingly saved his job by beating Florida 24-20 in Jacksonville.

"They did a great job of creating momentum with the fake field goal for a touchdown," Richt said. "They grabbed the momentum and just kind of took off from there."

The difference was Florida's decision to bench turnover-prone quarterback Jeff Driskel and commit to the ground game, even against the league's second-ranked run defense.

"I thought Florida gained confidence as the game wore on and we didn't respond to it," Richt said.

The Bulldogs were seeking their first four-game winning streak in the series since 1983.

Georgia led 7-0 early, looking as if it would move a step closer to winning the SEC Eastern Division. Instead, the Bulldogs kept the division a muddled mess.

Nick Chubb, filling in for suspended running back Todd Gurley, ran 21 times for 156 yards and a touchdown. He also caught five passes for 59 yards and a score, and had a costly fumble.

Hutson Mason completed 26 of 42 passes for 319 yards, with a touchdown. He was sacked three times and hit way more often.

"They just beat us, they flat-out beat us," Mason said. "You can't say we should have done this or should have done that. They just kicked our butt all the way around."

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