Cocktail Party Chronicles: The ten best Florida-Georgia games of all time

The history of the Florida-Georgia rivalry is a long one. To be precise, Florida and Georgia have played 91 times. Yes, Georgia fans, 91, not 92. Florida did not play football in 1904, and it’s pathetic that Georgia tries to claim a win in a season in which Florida did not even field a team. The point is that there have been quite a few memorable games between these two teams.

But whittling the list down to the ten most memorable is tough. Here’s my attempt to do so.

#10 2008: Timeout, Florida (Florida 49, Georgia 10)

Recap

No, this game isn’t a memorable one simply because of the final score. Obliterating Mark Richt’s Bulldogs 49-10 is always nice, but what made this special was the little dance off Georgia staged in the end zone the year before (more on that later) and the fact that Gator fans and players were particularly steamed coming into the game. It started out innocently enough- the Gators led 14-3 midway through the third quarter- but then Joe Haden picked off Matt Stafford and took it 88 yards down to the Georgia 1 yard line. Tim Tebow scored on the ensuing play and the party was on.

But perhaps it was Urban Meyer’s efforts to make the aforementioned party last even longer than it should have by calling all his remaining timeouts in the game’s waning seconds that made it memorable. All Georgia players and coaches wanted to do was sprint to the locker room and put the 49-10 drubbing behind them, but Urban Meyer made them sit there and take it that much longer. Most Gator fans probably still think it’s hilarious. Most Bulldog fans probably still want to lynch him for it.

Effect

We know this rivalry goes in runs- more on that later in the week- but Georgia’s 42-30 win the year before suggested to some that perhaps it was time for a nice Georgia run in the series. After all, Florida had won 15 of the previous 17. But the 49-10 stomping showed that the Gators still controlled the series for another three years- and controlled the SEC East in this year, knocking the Bulldogs out of contention. Also, the end zone dance the previous year reinforced the stereotype that Georgia hates Florida. The timeouts reinforced the stereotype that Florida hates Georgia.

#9 1976: Fourth And Dumb (Georgia 41, Florida 27)

Recap

There’s a reason Florida doesn’t control the all time series lead against Georgia, and that reason is that over the decades, they have blown numerous games against the Dawgs that they should have won. This is one of them.

Florida totally dominated the early stages of this game, leading 27-13 at halftime. Georgia then scored early in the third quarter to trim the lead to 27-20. On the ensuing drive, Georgia forced a Florida punt. Or what should have been a Florida punt. Instead, Gator coach Doug Dickey chose to go for it on 4th and 1 inside his own 30 yard line. Gator tailback Earl Carr was stuffed, and Georgia QB Ray Goff led Georgia to three straight touchdowns to shock the Gators 41-27.

Effect

The 70’s did not treat the Gators kindly in this rivalry. Two devastating defeats in the previous two years had the Florida players clamoring for blood, and then they got their hearts broken for a third straight time in ’76. Georgia was in the middle of a ~20 year run of dominance (we can relate; see 1990-2010) and Florida found every way imaginable to lose games. Though the Gators would win the following year, Georgia would break Gator hearts even more over the next several years. This one just set the table, and cost the Gators the SEC Championship.

#8 1966: Spurrier’s Season Wrecked By Georgia (Georgia 27, Florida 10)

Recap

Steve Spurrier was more than a great Gator coach. He was also a great Gator QB (and actually won the Heisman in 1966). But you’d never know that by the way he played in this game. Georgia picked him off three times and sacked him several more, as the Gator offense never really got off the ground. Georgia won 27-10, ruining Florida’s chances at winning the SEC.

Effect

If Georgia fans could go back in time and change history in any way, I think they’d try to reverse the outcome of this game and make it so Florida won (I’m only half kidding, that’s the thing). Because the loss set off some sort of explosive Incredible Hulk type reaction inside of Spurrier. He would remember this loss, oh yes he would, when he returned to Gainesville as the head coach. His first order of business was to install a hatred for the Dawgs and a refusal to lose/sadistic pleasure in winning in Jacksonville. Oops! Didn’t mean to push that button! Only once in Spurrier’s 12 years at the helm did Florida lose to Georgia, and the 11 wins were quite ugly. Scores like 47-7, 52-14, 52-17, and 45-13 rained down on the Bulldogs. It’s Georgia’s fault, really. They should have known they were in trouble when Spurrier’s first taste of the rivalry ended with a 38-7 thumping. The Bulldogs fought back once and beat the Gators 37-17, but that was a mistake; Spurrier’s Gators laid a second 38-7 stomping on them the following year.

Really, Georgia fans just want to forget about Spurrier. He continues to beat on them to this day; his Gamecocks have beaten Georgia four out of the last five years. So yeah, I think with hindsight at their disposal, Georgia fans at least somewhat regret embarrassing Spurrier before most of them were born. The tradeoff heavily favors Florida.

#7 1984: Bell to Nattiel (Florida 27, Georgia 0)

Recap

In the midst of a 20 year run of Bulldog dominance came this wonderful Gator oasis. The slightly favored Bulldogs could not get their offense going no matter what they tried, and the Gators built a 17-0 lead. But Georgia finally orchestrated a nice, long drive that got them inside the Florida three yard line. Then something happened to Georgia that frequently happened to Florida throughout the 70’s and 80’s. Four straight times the Bulldogs pounded the ball up the middle. Four straight times they were turned away.

That gave the Gators the ball at their own two yard line. After two cautious play calls that got the ball out to the four yard line, Gator QB Kerwin Bell suddenly dropped back and launched a bomb to Ricky Nattiel, who caught it in stride and high stepped the last several yards to the end zone. That was the kill shot, and clinched the Gators’ first win over Georgia since 1977.

Effect

Don’t give me any BS about how Florida didn’t win the SEC in 1984. I know the title has been stricken from the record books (thanks to Georgia voting to eradicate the title) but the players still have the rings. The Gators most certainly did win the SEC Championship in 1984, and this win was the one that wrapped it up for them. Yes, the Gators subsequently vacated the title, but it was a proud moment in Gator history nonetheless, and it was all because Florida beat Georgia.

#6 1995: Half A Hundred Between The Hedges (Florida 52, Georgia 17)

Recap

Since 1933, this game has been played in Jacksonville every single year- except twice in 1994 and 1995. The city of Jacksonville wanted to improve on their stadium for the new expansion team, so while renovations were ongoing, the game was moved to Gainesville in 1994 and to Athens in 1995. This gave Steve Spurrier a once in a lifetime opportunity to exact his aforementioned revenge in front of the Bulldogs’ home fans.

As expected, the Gators blew the Dawgs away. Danny Wuerffel guided Florida to a 28-0 lead, and from that point on, it was cruise control. That is, until the very end of the game. Florida had won the game by midway through the second quarter, so with a 45-17 lead late in the fourth, what more was there to gain? Here’s what: scoring 50 points on the Bulldogs in Sanford Stadium, something that had never been done before. A truly evil flea flicker call by Spurrier picked up some big yards, and on the next play, Eric Kresser hit Travis McGriff for the touchdown- and half a hundred. To this day, the 52 points still stands as the most points ever scored by an opponent in Athens.

Effect

This particular drubbing silenced the scores of Georgia fans who claimed that playing the game in Jacksonville was the reason why they couldn’t win. To a degree, it still does. Every time Georgia fans while about the location of the game, it’s an easy counterargument. Each team gets half the tickets. Play the game.

#5 1992: The Curse is Real (Florida 26, Georgia 24)

Recap

This one has to hurt Georgia fans to even think about. What was easily Ray Goff’s best team during his coaching tenure at Georgia went out and lost to what was probably Steve Spurrier’s worst. Georgia’s Frank Harvey escaped for an 80 yard touchdown run early, but then the Gators blocked a punt and it all went downhill from there. Florida grabbed a 23-7 lead thanks to Shane Matthews’ three touchdown passes and held onto it. To the Bulldogs’ credit, they did engineer an impressive comeback. But Florida’s offense ended the game the same way Georgia’s did in 2011 and 2013- they melted the clock away with a few huge first downs.

Effect

It just goes to show how time dictates this rivalry. Every 20 or so years Florida dominates, and every other 20 or so years Georgia dominates. Everything was set up right for Georgia to win on this day. But it just didn’t happen, and it was Florida who went on to participate in the SEC’s first ever championship game.

#4 2007: Dunce Dunce Revolution (Georgia 42, Florida 30)

Recap

Florida had won 15 out of the last 17 coming into this game. Mark Richt was well aware of that fact, didn’t like it one bit and set out to help fix that. His idea to help change the culture of the rivalry: ordering the entire 50+ Georgia roster to storm the field and jump around like goons following the Bulldogs’ first touchdown. Which they did.

But what people forget is that Florida shrugged that off and engaged in a competitive shootout. Tim Tebow led Florida right back and threw a touchdown to Louis Murphy, and the Gators actually had the lead late in the first half. That little dance had no effect on the game’s outcome. Knowshon Moreno tallied 188 yards on the day, and only three on that run. Georgia simply made stops when they had to, and Florida could not. Perhaps the dagger was the bomb to Mikey Henderson that put UGA up 35-24 with 11 minutes to go, but when Moreno powered in on the Dawgs’ next drive, the game was out of reach.

Effect

This win actually didn’t really help Georgia at all in terms of the SEC, a rarity in this rivalry. Their 35-14 loss to Tennessee kept them out of the SEC Championship Game. But it did land them a berth in the Sugar Bowl, and they took advantage, crushing Colt Brennan and Hawaii en route to a #2 final ranking.

But let’s be real, none of that is what this game is remembered for. All people think about regarding the 2007 game is Georgia’s little dance off after Moreno’s first touchdown, and for good reason. Never before have I seen anything like that in my life, and never have I since. And I hope to never have to again. Despite the recent success of FSU, this is why I hate the Bulldogs even more than the Seminoles (though this ongoing scandal is starting to change that).

#3 1993: Timeout Saves The Day (Florida 33, Georgia 26)

Recap

Florida and Georgia played in a wet one on this day, very similar to the downpour the Gators were involved in against FSU in 2008. It didn’t stop the two offenses, though. The Gators (led by Terry Dean) and Bulldogs (led by Eric Zeier) went back and forth, with each team holding multiple leads at different points in the game. As the game wound down, though, Florida held a 33-26 lead, and Georgia had the ball with one final chance.

Zeier drove Georgia down to the shadow of the goal line with time running out. He threw what he thought was the game tying touchdown… except Gator defensive back Anthone Lott had called a timeout right before the snap. So Zeier had to do it again. His second attempt was incomplete, and the Gators won the game. But wait. Lott was called for pass interference, and Georgia lined up for a third consecutive try. Zeier went over the middle to Jeff Thomas, but the ball was batted down and Florida hung on, this time for real, 33-26.

Effect

The win catapulted the Gators into first place in the SEC East, leaving them with no tough tests remaining. Florida cruised past their remaining SEC opponents and went on to defeat Alabama in the SEC Championship Game. Chalk up another win for Spurrier over Georgia, this time in a 50/50 game either side could have won.

#2 2010: Overtime (Florida 34, Georgia 31)

Recap

Both teams entered this game in bad situations. Florida had lost three straight, while Georgia was recovering from a nightmarish start to the season. Anyway, Florida grabbed a 21-7 lead at halftime, forcing Georgia to have to come back. Which they did, slowly. Aaron Murray guided them all the way back to a 24-24 tie. Trey Burton gave the Gators the lead again with a 51 yard TD run, only to watch Murray tie it right back up with a touchdown pass to AJ Green and send the game into overtime.

On the Dawgs’ first possession, Aaron Murray threw an ill advised pass over the middle that was tipped by Jelani Jenkins and picked by Will Hill, who took it all the way back to the Georgia 1. Unfortunately, the rules are such that the Gators had to start from the 25, not the one. So Florida had to finesse its way inside the 20 to set up a field goal for Chas Henry, the punter who had struggled kicking field goals since replacing the injured Caleb Sturgis. But the Gators’ Ray Guy Award winning punter came through when he was needed most, booting home a 37 yard field goal to give Florida its 18th win in the last 21 games over Georgia.

Effect

Not much, except for the fact that Georgia’s season turned into even more of a nightmare than it looked to be at first. The Bulldogs went on to have a losing season, while the Gators finished with a meh 8-5 record. But if nothing else, I will always remember Henry’s game winning field goal. Good things happen to good people who work hard.

#1 1980: Run Lindsay! (Georgia 26, Florida 21)

Recap

Easily the most heartbreaking defeat for Florida in a series filled with them, it epitomized the 1970’s and 80’s and still has the genuine power to shock some elder Gator fans. How Florida lost this game is beyond me; even though it happened 15 years before I was born, I still can’t believe what happened each time I see it.

2nd ranked Georgia was heavily favored coming into the game, but the Gators played inspired football and held onto a 21-20 lead with under a minute remaining. The Bulldogs were pinned deep in their own territory and faced a third and 10. UGA QB Buck Belue didn’t complete many passes on that day (7-16 on the day), but he completed the big one, a short dump to Lindsay Scott, who raced… all… the… way… 93… yards… for the touchdown. Upset averted, Sugar Bowl berth saved, and a few months later, Georgia had their second ever national championship (and their most recent).

Effect

Florida had a chance to ruin Herschel Walker’s Heisman Trophy chances and Georgia’s national championship trophies in the same day, but their failure to play defense on the biggest play of the game cost them both. (Now Florida only leads Georgia 3-2 in national championships, and in Heisman Trophy winners.) Make no mistake, this game directly led to a national championship. The Dawgs first had to survive Auburn and Georgia Tech, and then Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl, but this was their best chance to lose, and the Gators couldn’t pull it off.

4 thoughts on “Cocktail Party Chronicles: The ten best Florida-Georgia games of all time

  1. I’m a little surprised neither of the Zook upsets were on here. You mention that the unexpected is to be expected in favor of the team on their 20 year run, which is absolutely true, but because of that, I definitely thought I would see at least one of those two games, if not both. Both were upsets, both were memorable and both killed Georgia’s shot at playing for a national championship.

    1. That’s fair.

      I didn’t include them because I don’t think too many people remember them today. In terms of memorable games, that you’ll never forget either due to the excitement of the game or the aftermath, I don’t see either of them as a top ten game. The 2002 game was considered, though.

  2. 2008 will always be my favorite WLOCP. Any WLOCP with Will Muschamp/Will Goof as “coach” will always be my least favorite.

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