For the 100th time, old rivals Georgia and Florida battle on the gridiron. With the exception of 1994 and 1995 (home and home contests) and several locations in the early years, since 1933 all of these games have taken place annually in Jacksonville, with a 50/50 fan split and unique pageantry, earning the Georgia-Florida game the title of “The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.” As has usually been the case, there are big stakes on the line for the Bulldogs and Gators. Georgia comes into the game ranked No. 1 nationally with a record of 7-0, 5-0 in the Southeastern Conference. Florida is 4-3 and 2-3 in league play.
Both Georgia and Florida had an open date this past Saturday. Kickoff is for just after 3:30 Saturday afternoon from the banks of the majestic St. John’s River at TIAA Bank Field.
Since the season-opening, highly anticipated heavyweight showdown between Georgia and Clemson that the Bulldogs won 10-3, Kirby Smart’s team has won six straight by at least 17 points. That includes a 30-13 victory over then 6-0 Kentucky two weekends ago which put the Bulldogs in the top spot in the SEC East Division.
Florida is certainly disappointed to have three losses, but these Gators are mighty close to an elite record. Alabama edged Florida 31-29 in Gainesville. The Gators fell 20-13 at Kentucky, with the Wildcats cashing in on a blocked field goal returned for a touchdown. Last time out, two Saturdays ago, Florida fell to LSU in an instant-classic shootout 49-42.
This series has had many twists and turns and runs of dominance. Most notably, Florida went 18-3 against Georgia, including an 11-1 mark under the watch of Gator legend Steve Spurrier during his head coaching tenure, from 1990-2010. The Bulldogs wound up winning six of the ten meetings in the decade of the 2010’s. Georgia won three straight from 2011-2013, with Todd Gurley and Jarvis Jones headlining for Mark Richt’s Bulldogs. Florida won three in a row from 2014-2016. The third of those three was Kirby Smart’s first at the helm of his alma mater. Smart’s Dogs won three straight from 2017-2019, highlight victories in 11-1 regular seasons and SEC Championship Game appearances. Georgia became the first SEC East team to make it to three straight title tilts since Spurrier’s Gators went to the first five from 1992-1996.
Last season, Florida defeated Georgia 44-28 and the Gators advanced to Atlanta. These two bluebloods have each been to three SEC Championship Games over the last six years. In the 29 all-time SEC Championship Games, Florida has been to 13, Georgia eight – all of the Bulldogs trips coming since 2002.
A victory in this 100th meeting in the series, which Georgia leads 53-44-2, would be another step towards the Bulldogs championship quest. A Florida win would bring back some bad memories from 2002, 2003 and 2005 for the red and black faithful, and leave the Bulldogs zero margin for error.