So heated is this rivalry that Florida and Georgia can't even agree on when it began
Florida and Georgia face off in Jacksonville this weekend in a top-10 showdown for first place in the SEC East. It is the 97th (or 98th according to Georgia) meeting in a rivalry that it is currently at its apex. Here are 10 facts about it to bring you up to speed.
The two schools disagree on when this rivalry began. Georgia insists that it started in 1904 when the Bulldogs whipped the University of Florida in Lake City (one of the four predecessors to the modern university) 52-0. Florida argues that the rivalry did not start until after its state legislature consolidated its public universities to create the University of Florida in Gainesville in 1905. That would mean the rivalry started in 1915 when both true universities first met. As a result, Georgia claims that it leads the series 53-43-2, while Florida says the record is 52-43-2.
Regardless of when it started, this game has been played on a neutral site all but seven times. Tampa and Savannah hosted the game before Jacksonville became the permanent site in 1933. While it is closer to Gainesville by about four hours, Jacksonville is still the largest city between the two schools, and will remain the host city for the foreseeable future. The game is a boon for the city and both Florida and Georgia. Current figures are unavailable, but both schools make more money playing in Jacksonville every year than they would by hosting the game every other year.
The worst beating in the series occurred in 1942, when a young Florida team weakened by players leaving for World War II, met a top-ranked Georgia team that still had many of its players through its ROTC program. The Bulldogs beat the Gators 75-0 and would go on to claim a share of the national title. The next season, Florida did not field a team because so many players were fighting in World War II, and the rivalry was suspended until 1944.
The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party
The Florida Times-Union sports editor Bill Kastelz saw a drunken fan offer booze to a cop during one rivalry weekend in the 1950s and dubbed the game “The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party” The name stuck, but shenanigans in the 1980s — most notably fans storming the field to tear down the goal posts in 1984 and '85 — prompted the two schools to disavow the name. In 2006, they asked CBS and the city Jacksonville to stop using it too. Since then, other monikers have been proposed but not have had any staying power.
Georgia-Florida Hall of Fame
This rivalry is unique in that it has its own hall of fame. This rivalry is unique in that it has its own hall of fame. The Jacksonville Sports and Entertainment Office established it in 1995 to "to acknowledge the many great records, performances, career highlights and outstanding memories that have made the Georgia-Florida game one of college football’s best traditions." Each year, four players (two from each team) are inducted... except this year. Because of the limited capacity due to COVID-19, all ancillary events including the Hall of Fame Luncheon will not take place this year.
A trophy for this game was finally created in 2009; a 10-foot long oar carved from a 1,000-year-old cypress tree in the famous swamp along the border of the two states. Unlike other trophies, this one is not presented at the game, but instead given to the student body president of the winning school.
In 1966, Florida fielded its best team ever at the time. Led by Spurrier, who won the Heisman Trophy, the Gators entered the Georgia game 7-0 and would have won their first SEC title by beating the Bulldogs. Georgia shattered those plans, intercepting Spurrier three times in a 27-10 win. As the "Ole Ball Coach," Spurrier did lead Florida to its first SEC title in 1991 and went 11-1 against the Bulldogs during his tenure in Gainesville.
Run, Lindsay, Run
This rivalry has had too many great moments, but the best may be, "Run, Lindsay, Run." Georgia entered the 1980 contest undefeated and ranked No. 2, but was down 21-20 with a minute to go. Facing third-and-long on his seven-yard line, Bulldogs quarterback Buck Belue dropped to pass and as legendary Georgia broadcaster Larry Munson said, "Florida in a stand-up five, they may or may not blitz. Buck back, third down on the eight. In trouble, he got a block behind him. Gotta throw on the run. Complete to the 25. To the 30, Lindsay Scott 35, 40, Lindsay Scott 45, 50, 45, 40 ... Run Lindsay, 25, 20, 15, 10, 5, Lindsay Scott! Lindsay Scott! Lindsay Scott!" The Bulldogs went on to win the national title. In 1990, ESPN did the retrospective on the game and the play.
To fire his team up in 2007, Georgia head coach Mark Richt had his players run into the end zone to celebrate the first touchdown. And the post-TD stomp propelled the team to a 42-30 win. But what’s more important is how the Gators responded. They did not discuss their anger, but they did not forget what happened either. When they met again in 2008, each team had one loss and the winner would be in the driver’s seat to win the SEC East and have a possible shot at the national title. Florida ended Georgia's dreams of either with a 49-10 beatdown en route to winning the SEC title and national championship.
A Rivalry at its Apex
As I mentioned earlier, this rivalry is the best it has ever been. Either Florida or Georgia has won 14 of the last 20 SEC East titles and seven of the last 10. Until other schools in the East up their game, the road to winning it goes through Jacksonville.
— Written by Aaron Tallent, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Tallent is a writer whose articles have appeared in The Sweet Science, FOX Sports’ Outkick the Coverage, Liberty Island and The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter at @AaronTallent.