Pick A Number

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

We are coming off the biggest weekend of the college football season. There were two games featuring unbeaten, highly ranked teams. No. 2 LSU beat No. 3 Alabama 46 – 41. No. 17 Minnesota defeated No. 4 Penn State 31 – 26.

The AP and Coaches Poll rankings for the week were revealed. Alabama only dropped one spot, which has upset fans of other one-loss teams. Let’s look at my top four teams.

#1 LSU: The Tigers have the best resume in the nation. They have beaten four ranked teams; all of them were ranked in the top 10 at the time. This is the first LSU team I can remember with a potent offense.

They are ranked fourth nationally in total offense despite playing one less game than two of the teams ranked ahead of them.

Quarterback, Joe Burrow is the frontrunner to win the Heisman Trophy. Burrow has passed for 3,198 yards, 33 touchdowns and only 4 interceptions.

He also completes 80% of his passes. They also have a great running game led by Clyde Edwards-Helaire. He has 11 TD’s, averages 5.8 yards per carry and he’s on pace to eclipse one thousand yards.

The surprising weakness is defense. The Tigers rank 33rd nationally in total defense, allowing 340 YPG.

#2 Ohio State: The Buckeyes are the most balanced team in the nation. The defense is #1 in total defense, only giving up 215 YPG.

The offense is fifth in total offense with 536 YPG. Quarterback, Justin Fields is also a Heisman contender. He’s the best dual threat QB in college. He’s passed for 1,859 yards, 27 TD’s and only one interception. On the ground, he has 347 yards and 10 touchdowns.

J.K. Dobbins is one of the best backs in the game. Dobbins has already gained 1,200 yards, 11 TD’s and averages 7.2 YPC.

Star defensive end and possible No. 1 pick in the upcoming draft, Chase Young may miss significant time with a suspension. He did not play the last game due to a possible NCAA violation from 2018.

#3 Clemson: The Tigers are the defending national champions but they struggled early in the season. They narrowly beat unranked North Carolina 21 – 20 the last week of September.

Quarterback Trevor Lawrence looked great in the national championship game but he has not performed up to expectations thus far.

Lawrence has thrown 23 touchdowns and 8 picks. Running back Travis Etienne has been dominant with 1,214 yards, 13 TD’s and 8.9 YPC. Despite the problems, they rank second in total offense at the FBS level. They also rank fourth in total defense.

So far, they faced one ranked opponent and have one more on the schedule, No. 19 Wake Forest.

#4 Oregon: The Ducks began the season with a 27 – 21 loss to No. 16 Auburn. Since then they won 8 consecutive games.

They’re led by QB Justin Herbert, who will be a top five pick in the 2020 draft. He has thrown for 2,329 yards, 24 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.

Oregon should play No. 8 Utah in the Pac 12 championship game and that will be a good win.

The first team on the outside looking in is Georgia. The Bulldogs lost at home to unranked South Carolina.

The only ranked team left on the schedule is No. 11 Auburn. If they win the rest of their games including the SEC Championship, they have to be in the playoffs.

Alabama still has an outside shot of making it if some upsets happen and they win out.

Splashless

By: TJ Hartnett

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

During the last offseason, Braves Country waited for what seemed like forever for the Atlanta front office to make a splash.

It seemed like for a long while that Atlanta’s fans would be disappointed, but finally the day came when Alex Anthopoulos and company pulled the trigger on two signings that would figure into the Braves’ plans to improve upon their surprising win of the NL East in 2018.

Both Josh Donaldson and Brian McCann were announced to have inked to 1-year deals on the same day.

McCann, in what would be his final season as a big-league catcher, thrived in his return home.

Donaldson merely returned to his heyday form, hitting 37 home runs alongside a .900 OPS and providing the necessary protection behind Freddie Freeman to allow the first baseman to put up his career-best season. Not to mention, being a positive force in the clubhouse who became beloved by the fanbase and provided clutch hits throughout the season (but was he worth the $23 million price tag? Asking for a friend/editor).

It was the kind of banner news day that the Braves were craving.

This year the Braves made moves earlier in the offseason and yet again made news involving two different players on the same day. Though this time they were re-signing two of the pieces from their two-time division-winning team, instead of bringing in new blood.

Nick Markakis and Tyler Flowers actually both had their options declined by the Braves (as did Julio Teheran) but were then each signed to a new, 1-year, $4 million contract.

Essentially, they make the same amount of money after the buyouts are added in, but the Braves save some money on payroll because those buyouts are considered 2019 money.

The Braves still have time to make a big splash (Donaldson negotiations are, one imagines, ongoing), but this two-fer day certainly lacked the excitement of last year’s.

For one, neither of these players are likely to be everyday guys anymore or at least, they shouldn’t be.

Markakis has fallen off in a big way each of the past two years during the second half. He’s well-respected and a good hand to have, but his days of being able to spend a season in the middle of the order are behind him. Hopefully the Braves are looking at him as a backup or at most a platoon player going into 2020.

Flowers has been splitting time at catcher for a few years now to great success. First with Kurt Suzuki and then with McCann. It’s time for him to fall into a true backup role, even though that’s an imperfect solution for his presence on the roster as well.

Flowers’ primary skill is pitch framing. He’s one of the best in the league at stealing strikes for his pitchers; but he also led the majors in passed balls in 2019 as a part-time player.

Plus, he’s consistently been the lesser hitter of his platoon. So, he’s good at framing, which would be helpful five times a week, but bad at catching the ball, which should prevent him from playing five times a week. And he’s a poor hitter, so coming off the bench doesn’t serve anyone well.

The key to Flowers coming back not being a bad decision will be acquiring a front-line backstop. The Braves should be in on the likes of Yasmani Grandal, but they’ll have competition and without a Suzuki or a McCann, Flowers is going to get exposed. This is a big need.

The 2019 offseason has already had some movement, but not coupled with the excitement that 2018’s did around this time.

Luckily, there’s still a lot of road ahead for the Braves to make moves that will take Atlanta to the next level.

On My Mind

By: Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

There are a lot of things going on in the world of southern sports currently. Here are some random thoughts:

  1. On 4th and a foot you run the football, Dan Mullen. To win in the SEC you have to be able to run the damn football. At Mississippi State you can get away with that, but at Florida you can’t. Lose again to UGA next year and see how hot your seat gets.
  2. Wristband Gate at UF caused them to use two early timeouts in the World Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. Again, you can get by with that in the Egg Bowl, but not against Daddy Kirby.
  3. The Atlanta Falcons are a huge dumpster fire. Time to clean house and start over. Nick Saban has a home in Georgia. Home Depot will make tons of money during the Christmas season. Breakout the check book Falcons.
  4. The Atlanta Braves decline the 2020 option on Julio Teheran’s contract. That took about three years too long.
  5. Cam Newton has major health issues and is out for the season, but the Panthers are 5-3 and in playoff contention. Can someone in Charlotte pick up the phone to the Chicago Bears and say are on the line looking for a QB?
  6. The Brunswick High Pirates are back in the playoffs in 2019. Note to region 2-AAAAAA if you didn’t beat the Pirates in 2019 you won’t again until 2023 at the earliest, and if you did you better enjoy it.
  7. Richmond Hill got bumped to 7A in the latest reclassification by the Georgia High School Association through 2022. How quickly will RH file the isolation paperwork to the GHSA to stay in 6A?
  8. FSU is looking for a new football coach. We never got the time to know you Willie. Who wants to come in and continue cleaning up the mess Jimbo left?
  9. Auburn is looking at another banner year under Gus. Bus number 8-4 is running out of gas finally on the Plains.
  10. Tua’s ankle, Tua’s ankle, Tua’s ankle, Tua’s ankle, Tua’s ankle. You get my drift.
  11. The first QB selected in the 2020 NFL Draft is Joe Burrow.
  12. The best college football team in the State of Georgia is the Valdosta State Blazers. They just keep winning and winning.
  13. The Atlanta Hawks are an NBA Draft Lottery team once again.
  14. Anthony Edwards will lead the UGA Men’s Basketball team to a bid in the NCAA Tourney.
  15. Randon Jernigan will bat over .300 and make All-SEC in 2020 for the Diamond Dawgs. Why? Because his Aunt Sandra told me so. That’s good enough for me.
  16. The Frederica Knights beat Bulloch Academy on Senior Night Friday under the oaks on St. Simons, and win two GISA Playoff games.
  17. Kawhi Leonard is the best NBA player on the planet at this moment in time. Those who don’t agree I have three words for you MAKE THE PLAYOFFS!
  18. Lawrence Cager is still wide open against DBU.
  19. Lowndes County is the best high school football team in Georgia.
  20. McIntosh County Academy hats off to you and the improvement you have shown in 2019. Look out for the Bucs moving forward.
  21. Note to the College Football Playoff Committee, you have undefeated Baylor ranked behind one loss Oklahoma, who lost to Kansas State by 7. Baylor beat Kansas State by 19 points. Dollar Store spring water is just as good as Dasani. Clemson ranked 5th? Get better committee. Baylor is not UCF they play in a real conference.
  22. The ACC in football is Clemson and the dependents.
  23. Glynn County Stadium needs an elevator going to the Press Box.
  24. Camden County officials need to be placed on top of every press box they visit to taste that medicine they dish out.
  25. The Washington Nationals won the World Series and can’t even win the NL East. Ouch!

New Coach Chant

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Florida State University fired head football coach Willie Taggart following the Seminoles 27-10 loss to Miami.

The buyout for Coach Taggart is more than 17 million dollars. Florida State will end up paying more than 20 million to buy out the whole staff at the end of the year. This will mark one of the biggest buyouts in college football history.

Florida State looks to hire their next head football coach. Here are my thoughts on 7 coaches who could land the job in Tallahassee.

Bob Stoops is a bit of a surprise. After 18 years coaching at Oklahoma, Stoops is currently the coach and GM of the Dallas XFL franchise. Stoops is a perfect person to bridge the gap for 3-5 years. He is a proven winner and there is no buyout.

Matt Campbell is the current head coach at Iowa State. Campbell was named the Big 12 Coach of the Year twice (2017 & 2018). Campbell has a very large buyout. He has been successful at two stops Toledo and Iowa State. Cambell record is 59-37.

Mark Stoops is the current head coach at Kentucky. Stoops is in his seventh season with the Wildcats and served as Defensive Coordinator at Florida State from 2010-2012. Stoops record at Kentucky is 40-34.

P.J. Fleck is a popular choice on everyone’s list of candidates. Fleck known for his “Row the Boat” quote. Fleck is a proven program builder in the Midwest.

He spent four years at Western Michigan with a record of 30-22. Currently, he is coaching Minnesota to an 8-0 record and in three seasons at the Gophers helm he is 50-35.

Fleck just signed a seven-year extension with Minnesota. So, you can take his name off the board.

Mike Norvell is the current coach at Memphis. This 38-year-old is a hot name anytime there is an opening. Norvell is 34-15 in his fourth year on the job. He is also rumored to be the leading candidate if or when the Arkansas job comes open.

Mike Leach, the Washington State head coach and offensive wizard is a fan favorite. He’s weird, but he wins football games. Leach, a former Valdosta State assistant, almost took the Tennessee job in 2017.

Josh Heupel is the current head coach at the University of Central Florida. In two seasons at UCF, Heupel has a record of 19-3. Heupel already has recruiting ties in the State of Florida and he is an offensive guru.

Here are a few other names you may hear:  Tom Allen-Indiana, Scott Satterfield-Louisville, Jeff Scott-Co-offensive Coordinator Clemson, Brent Venables-Defensive Coordinator Clemson, Sony Dykes-SMU and Urban Meyer-Former Florida and Ohio State head coach.

This is a big-time job! Florida State has some obstacles to overcome in hiring their next football coach.

Florida State has an interim Athletic Director and a lame duck President. Both are in their last year of their respective contracts.

Firing a head coach before his two years are up means you have some problems that may have deterred some coaches.

Florida State is a program built to win a national title.  Florida is a talent rich state in recruiting, FSU plays in the ACC, and the logo still has clout.

This is an important hire for the Seminoles. If you get the hire right, everything else will fall into place. If you get it wrong it set your program back ten years (just ask the Florida Gators).

The random internet rumor generator will have a different FSU coach hired every day until one is found.

The firing of Willie Taggart had to be made. The Seminoles have shown no improvement in two years, and even worse, have regressed this season.

Defensive Line Coach Odell Haggins will serve as interim head coach the remainder of the season. In Tallahassee there is already a garnet billboard with a big gold “ODELL” written on it. It appears the locals are happy.

FSU President announced today that he wants a coached hired by the end of the month.

Coaching search rumors are entertainment like no other.

Who is next at FSU?

Awesome ACC

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The college basketball season begins this week.

Last season was very exciting because we expected Duke to win it all. Instead, Virginia bounced back from an epic collapse from the previous year and won their first national championship. Let’s take a look at the ranked ACC teams.

#4 Duke: The Blue Devils had one of the best recruiting classes of all-time last year led by Zion Williamson. Duke started the season ranked No. 1 and maintained that ranking for most of the year. They lost by one point in the Elite Eight to Michigan State.

The 2019 recruiting class features five recruits and the class is ranked third nationally.

Three of them are five-star players; center Vernon Carey, small forward Wendell Moore and power forward Matthew Hurt. The other two are both four-star recruits; shooting guards Cassius Stanley and Rejean Ellis.

They bring five top 40 prospects to Durham and point guard Tre Jones is returning for his sophomore season.

Duke opens the season against No. 3 Kansas at Madison Square Garden.

#5 Louisville: The Cardinals start the season with a conference game at Miami.

The football team is also playing the Hurricanes this week.

Junior forward Jordan Nwora was voted preseason ACC Player of the Year. He averaged 17 points and 8 rebounds per game last season.

Freshman guard Samuel Williamson is a four-star recruit and he should make an immediate contribution. I expect him to be second on the team in scoring. Senior forward Dwayne Sutton is also a key contributor.

This is the first time in the post Rick Pitino era that Louisville is a serious contender.

#9 North Carolina: The Tar Heels always expect to compete for a national title. The thing that surprises me is they don’t get the elite recruits that you would expect for a program of their caliber.

Their 2019 recruiting class was ranked ninth. That’s behind inferior programs like Memphis, Oregon, USC and Florida.

The recruiting class consists of four players and two of them are five-star recruits. Point guard Cole Anthony and center Armando Bacot are joining an experienced UNC team.

Last season ended in disappointment with a Sweet Sixteen blowout loss to Auburn.

They also begin the season with a conference opponent, Notre Dame. The first ranked team on the schedule is in game 6 versus No. 18 Ohio State. The second game after that is at No. 8 Gonzaga.

# 11 Virginia: Virginia has finished outside the nation’s top 10 once in the last six basketball seasons, and its 89-19 ACC record during that span is historically dominant.

The Cavaliers are replacing four starters, including their top three scorers.

“We know it’s going to be a big challenge,” senior forward Braxton Key said. “We know the X is going to be on our back every game, but we’re excited for it.”

The season opens against a tough Syracuse team.

Virginia is the ACC’s 15th men’s basketball national champion. It’s traditionally the best conference and I think that will be the case this year. I believe the team that wins the national championship this year will be from the ACC.

Taggart Time Over

By: JJ Lanier

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

So, who had a year and a half in the “Taggart’s Time in Tallahassee” office pool? I had three years, so once again, I lose.

If you’re wondering why Taggart’s tenure at Florida State ended as soon as it did, there’s a picture making its rounds on the internet that sums it up pretty nicely.

The photo is one of a Miami Hurricanes player about to score a touchdown with a pair of Seminole defenders trailing on the play, both of whom seem either more interested in yelling at each other, or are in the midst of an intense game of “1,2,3 Don’t Blink”, than trying to make a play.

The picture really does encapsulate just about everything you need to know about what has taken place since Taggart’s arrival. Losing to an in-state rival? Check. Losing to a less than mediocre football team? Check. A complete lack of discipline? Check.

And if you’re curious as to how desperately they wanted Taggart out, Florida State was able to raise the more than $17 million dollars needed to buy him out, mostly from donors and alumni, quicker than Don Draper’s marriage vows when a beautiful woman walks by. (Sorry, I’m binge watching Mad Men at the moment.)

While the immediacy of Taggart’s dismissal may have come as a bit of surprise, I don’t think the ultimate outcome is. I don’t recall too many people feeling confident in the hire when it happened as much as taking a wait and see approach; not exactly what you would expect from a program like Florida State.

In fact, Taggart’s hire kind of reminds me of Cardale Jones and Mitch Turbisky. What I mean by that is scouts and analysts were fawning over how Jones should’ve entered the NFL draft after he led Ohio State to a national title, although he had played in only a handful of games. Instead, he returned to the Buckeyes the following year and people realized they were a little overzealous about his abilities after seeing a larger sample size.

And Trubisky was the first quarterback drafted in his draft after starting for only a year, even though there were more accomplished quarterbacks available. Now, it seems pretty obvious that he may only be the fourth best quarterback in that draft class.

In Taggart’s case, he did well at South Florida, but only spent one mediocre season at Oregon, so there wasn’t really much of a coaching history to justify the hiring at a school at Florida State, outside of just thinking he might be successful.

As to where Florida State goes from here, I have no idea. I vaguely remember them having difficulty before finally bringing in Taggart- something that certainly could explain his hiring- and I doubt his firing will make things more enticing than they were a year and a half ago; the product on the field certainly isn’t.

However, they are still Florida State and due to the timing of Taggart’s termination they will have ample time to hone in on one or two coaching candidates, making sure they are the right fit, before announcing a hire.

Right now, that Miami photo is only indicative of the Taggart years. If the Seminoles happen to miss on this upcoming hire, that picture could represent their program as a whole. And it may take less than three years for them to get there.

Dropped The Ball

By: Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The 2002 Georgia Bulldogs finished the season as SEC Champions for the first SEC title in 20 years for UGA.

UGA beat FSU in the Sugar Bowl and finished ranked #3 nationally. This was Mark Richt’s best football team in his 15 years at UGA, but the only blemish on the schedule was at The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail party. Here is that dreadful day through the eyes of this writer.

November 2, 2002 was a beautiful day in Jacksonville.

Weather was great and Georgia fans were in Jacksonville in force.

UGA was unbeaten, Spurrier was gone to the NFL and Florida was down. They were coming into the game with three losses for the first time since the 1980’s.

This was going to be the year that UGA put UF in its place and took control over the series again.

UGA fans had been beaten into submission by the Evil Genius before he took the Washington Redskins job. Spurrier had gone 11-1 against UGA in his 12 years in Gainesville.

Ron Zook was the Florida coach and UGA came into this game very confident that they would blow out Florida.

I was supremely confident also. You could tell early in the day that the Gator Nation was nervous, and we smelled that and it was like a hungry football team attacking an all you can eat country buffet.

The game was the first and only night game at the Cocktail party. I have never talked so much trash at a football game in my life.

I just knew unbeaten UGA was going to blow out the Gators. I had my best trash talk lines ready like “Shreveport in December at the Poulan Weed Whacker Bowl, you better have a winter jacket Gators”, or my favorite “The Grand Ole Opry at Christmas time is the highlight of a Music City Bowl Trip”.

We knew well because UGA was just there the previous season, but when talking trash facts do not enter into the mix, and it’s UGA/UF and we had an 8 hour tailgate experience and who cares Georgia keeps Florida from falling into the ocean on any map or atlas you can purchase.

We started the walk from our tailgate spot to the stadium looking like Ric Flair making a championship match entrance and talked down to just about every Florida fan that would make eye contact.

We got to our seats and settled in, thankfully. Drink of the day was Jim Beam and 7-Up.

Fred Gibson was hurt and could not play. Billy Bennett missed 3 FG’s and Rex Grossman threw the WR screen pass 237 times that day and UGA just could not stop it.

At halftime I talked Scott Spence out of walking back to the truck. When UGA struggles Spence will head to back to the vehicle in a New York second. Then it happened trailing 20-13 in the 4th quarter Terrence Edwards dropped a wide open TD pass that would have tied it and reality starts creeping in.

Well UGA blows the game and a National Championship appearance to UF, and in classic Gator form they were waiting on us on what seemed like 10 mile walk back to the truck.

One lady yelled in my ear “Same ole Georgia” It escapes me what my response was back. One guy was standing on top of a planter yelling “I heard a lot of crap coming in here today, but I don’t hear anything now”.

We labeled the one hour trip back from Jax to the Golden Isles as “The Trail of Tears”. I fired Mark Richt after this game. 5th straight loss to the Gators.

Looking back on this makes me understand now that this isn’t the same ole Georgia of 2002.

Kirby has instilled toughness in the program. Georgia has better talent, and a two game winning streak and has physically whipped Florida over the past years to a combined score of 78-24.

Give me UGA 27-20 in 2019, but the game is on November 2nd again, however which makes folks like me nervous.

Steve Spurrier created that doubt in all of us Dawg fans. Damn you Ball Coach. The WLOCP is a great American sporting event that you need to experience at least once in your lifetime.

The Other Rivalry

By: Mike Anthony

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

On Saturday, Georgia and Florida will throw their little cocktail party.

Texas and Oklahoma put on a good show a couple of weeks ago and Auburn and Alabama figure to have another slugfest at the end of November.

There are plenty of rivalries between Power-5 schools that get a lot of press, but – when it comes to the mix of mutual hatred and respect that defines so many great college football rivalries – you can’t do much better than taking in a game between Georgia Southern and Appalachian State.

Thursday’s matchup will have plenty of storylines as far as the 2019 season goes.

Appalachian State is ranked 20th in the country – although a ranking didn’t do the Mountaineers much good against the Eagles last season.

App is looking for a third straight Sun Belt title while the Eagles are riding a three-game winning streak and could take control of the Sun Belt East race with a win up in Boone.

But for everything that can be gained by either side with a win this week, the rivalry is about so much more than just one matchup in any given season.

It’s about the first playoff loss in Georgia Southern history and the only time Erk Russell’s Eagles were ever shut out.

It’s about the Mountaineers having nearly a dozen fewer conference championships in their trophy case once Georgia Southern decided to crash their party in the Southern Conference.

It’s about Appalachian State mostly not caring about losing a home game in 2001, so long as it kept Adrian Peterson from gaining 100 rushing yards.

It’s about Mountaineer fans wrecking a Georgia Southern team before wrecking its bus and postgame spread.

It’s about the Eagles winning by 47 points against a ranked App State team the season after that.

It’s about the Mountaineers gaining the upper hand in nationwide competition and winning three consecutive championships after the Eagles had gone back-to-back twice.

It’s about Armanti Edwards supposedly breaking the goal line to stave off an upset.

It’s about the Eagles putting a black mark on ‘Black Saturday’, ending a lengthy home winning streak for App while the Mountaineers were still basking in the adulation of a win over Michigan.

It’s about Appalachian State keeping its foot on the gas until 712 yards had been racked up.

It’s about a top-ranked App team jumping out to a 14-0 lead at Paulson and then never scoring again.

It’s about how App’s Brian Quick has still never fully gained possession of a touchdown pass that won the 2011 game.

It’s about an FBS atmosphere and a sea of cardboard cut-out Eagle head logos overwhelming the Mountaineers in 2014.

Most recently, it’s about Georgia Southern watching it’s fiercest rival attain an FBS ranking for the first time, then throwing that ranking in the trash four days later.

When Thursday rolls around, it’s going to be all about who can gain control of this season’s race for a Sun Belt title.

But it’s about a lot more than that…

A Fans View

By: Mike Anthony

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

In these parts, the end of October can mean only one thing – another chapter written in the rivalry between Georgia and Florida.

To be perfectly honest, I have no stake in this matchup.

I spent the first 14 years of my life embroiled in the various college football rivalries of the Mid-Atlantic and Rust Belt states.

And while I’ve enjoyed all of the ACC and SEC rivalries since moving down south, I’ve never taken a side and simply appreciate each game as it comes while not digging too deep into the history.

So, I consider myself unfit to discuss the ins and outs of Georgia and Florida. Luckily, I’m never short of friends with deep roots in various teams throughout the south.

With the latest edition of Florida/Georgia on tap, I turned to Sudie Pennebaker (a huge Florida fan from the Sunshine State) and Morrell McCaskill (a lifelong Georgia fan) to try and sway me to their side.

Here’s a few pieces of the argument that ensued.

Me: So, let’s jump right into it. Where do we stand in this rivalry? Who’s getting the best of it?

MM: First off, UGA not only won the first ever game in this rivalry, but it still holds the largest victory in the series and is ahead in the overall record with 52 wins. Florida is more like a bitter little brother in the series. Outside of the Spurrier era, UGA has owned the rivalry.

SP: Eh… 51 wins. Georgia says 52 because they count a game when they played a school that wasn’t actually UF. And Spurrier left in 2001. We’ve won 10 times since then. Not sure how you can say Georgia has owned the rivalry when they only have seven wins in that span.

Me: The game has the moniker of “The World’s Largest Cocktail Party”, but that name has been shuttered recently. How devastating is it to lose such a great nickname.

MM: I think it’s a buzzkill. The cocktail party name lends to the two schools’ strong tailgating traditions. It also bleeds into the crowd that isn’t so into football, but loves a good party. That does nothing but help college football’s cause.

Me: How about the neutral site? Would the game be even better if it was a home-and-home?

SP: On one hand, I like Jacksonville because A.) Family is close by, B.) Go Jags and C.) It feels like a home game. But I don’t think it’s really a neutral site.

MM: Neutral? 71 miles vs. 362 miles doesn’t seem too neutral to me. I would love if it was home-and-home. Georgia does that with Auburn every year and that works great. Florida fans may be worried about wearing their jean shorts in late October in Athens though. It could be chillier than what they’re used to.

SP: Nah. We’ll just wear the jeans that we will turn into shorts next summer.

Me: You obviously have all the great moments for your team committed to memory. What’s a low point for you?

SP: I am not fond of 2012… Stupid Jeff Driskel. Stupid Will Muschamp. (editor’s note – at this point, Sudie wandered off topic and spent the next five minutes lamenting the Muschamp era)

MM: 2012 was a great year. The one I hate was 2014. We had just beaten Missouri 34-0. Florida wasn’t even ranked. We got beat handily and that was shocking. Plus, it basically sealed the SEC East for Missouri.

In the end, we all ended up right where we had started. There will never be any love lost in this rivalry and – as is often the case – this year’s matchup is heightened by the fact that the winner will be in position to claim the East and play for the conference championship.

I’ll probably remain on the fence when it comes to picking sides. Our discussion cast some light on the pride and pain each side has experienced, but I get enough of that from the allegiances I already claim.

No matter who you root for, it’s going to be one heck of a party – cocktails or not.

Call It What It Is

By: Teddy Bishop

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Okay, is it the Georgia-Florida game, or the Florida-Georgia game?

Well, my oldest son is a Georgia fan, and my youngest son and my daughter are Florida fans, so for the purposes of this article, I’ll just refer to it as THE Game.

The bitin’ Bulldawgs started the season ranked #3 with visions of winning a national championship. And they certainly moved in that direction until the Gamecocks from Columbia (South Carolina, not South America) rolled into Athens (Georgia, not Greece) and upset the Dawgs in double overtime, 20-17. Georgia could still make the playoffs, but, well, not really.

As for Florida, the Giant Water Lizards started the season at #7, having made improvements over the last two seasons. The Lizards from Gainesville (Florida, not Georgia) were rolling merrily along until they had to go to Red Stick, Louisiana and play the Big Kitty Cats. Final score:  42-28.

So, both teams come into THE Game with one loss.

Quarterbacks are always important in THE Game. In Athens, Jake Fromm kicked Justin Fields’ butt on the practice field and sent Fields packing.

Fields appealed for a hardship case, saying a Georgia baseball player was prejudiced. The NCAA bought his story and allowed Fields to play in Columbus (Ohio, not Georgia) without sitting out a season.

The rumor on Fields was that he couldn’t decipher the Dawg playbook and Fromm could.  I guess Ohio State doesn’t have a playbook because Fields has done excellent work for the Buckeyes. (Can anyone tell me what a Buckeye is? I looked it up and it’s either a shrub/tree, a butterfly, or a coupling for a railroad car.  That’s right off the internet, so it’s got to be true.  I originally thought it had something to do with a male deer’s vision capacity, but apparently not. By the way, do you know the difference between beer nuts and deer nuts?  Beer nuts cost $4.95. Deer nuts are under a buck.)

At any rate, Justin Fields has taken Ohio State to a #3 ranking while the Dawgs have fallen to #10, making some people suggest that Kirby Smart should have kept Fields and let Jake Fromm at the mouth.

Speaking of Smart, Kirby has done an excellent job in Athens, despite the loss to SC.

Down in the swamp, Dan Mullen has Gator fans talking national championship again, but not this year.

When Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks left the Kentucky game with a season-ending injury, backup Kyle Trask entered the game and took the Lizards to a comeback win. And Trask has played well, the LSU game notwithstanding.

Georgia’s offensive line is very good, and that could be a key to THE Game. They’ve opened holes for D’Andre to show how Swift he is. The Dawgs also have some pretty good receivers as do the Lizards. It could come down to the running game.

Whichever team can establish the running game early should have the inside track to winning the game.

THE Game will be played in Jacksonville (a neutral site) again, although Kirby Smart has expressed an interest in a home-and-home series. Tailgating will start at least a day ahead of time, even in Brunswick (Georgia, not Maine).

I guess it has come down to predicting the final score, so here goes:  24-17. (Smiley Face!)

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