Florida Gators

Georgia/Florida Rivalry Should Be Bigger

By: JJ Lanier

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

What makes a good rivalry?

Well, for one, you need two teams whose fan bases have a deep seeded hatred for one another. It certainly helps if the players fall in line with that mentality, but with the All-Star games and summer camps high school kids attend nowadays, they don’t seem to have the same animosity towards each other they used to. A lot rides on the fans to keep the intensity of the rivalry going.

Next, you need teams that typically have something to play for. There are hundreds of rivalries, on all levels of sports throughout the country, but nobody really cares about a game where the two teams are constantly awful.

People are interested in watching games where both teams have something on the line, other than pride and bragging rights.

Lastly, in most great rivalries, there is one memorable game that defines the series. That one moment that is played over and over again; making one fan base feel complete and unadulterated jubilation, while the other fan base feels as though they just ate a dozen Nacho Cheese Doritos Locos Tacos Supremes and ran a half marathon.

Yes, there are other factors that go into a great rivalry (a cool nickname always helps), but when you at least have the three I just mentioned, you’re normally guaranteed a popular rivalry.

So, having said all that, my question is: “Why is the Georgia/Florida game not a bigger deal, on a national level?”

For starters, the game checks off all three of the major requirements.

  1. Hatred among the fan base? Ummm, I feel like I can safely say this isn’t much of an issue when it comes to this game.
  2. Something to play for? The series has been a little hit and miss when it comes to both teams consistently being ranked, but there always seems to be something on the line for at least one team, more times than not. Obviously for Georgia, there’s a lot on the line this year.
  3. That defining moment? There is a plethora to choose from, but my favorites are the back to back games in ’07/’08. Georgia’s entire team celebrating in the end zone in ’07, followed the next year by Urban Meyer calling two timeouts with less than a minute left, during a 49-10 victory over Georgia. You don’t get much better than that.

Hell, even the nickname for the game is incredible- “World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.” They’re literally combining two of mankind’s three favorite things; alcohol and football.

The only way it could be any better is if they included all three things and renamed it the “World’s Largest Outdoor Netflix and Chill Cocktail Football Party”.

Yet, as I sit here and write this I can think of 7 rivalry games off the top of my head that receive more recognition that the GA/FL game. Not to say those other games aren’t deserving, but it feels as though this particular rivalry is undervalued on a national scale.

I wish I had the answer for why this matchup isn’t as big of a deal to the rest of the country as it should be- and this is coming from someone who doesn’t really care all that much for either program. All it takes is for one game, or one instance, to get everyone else to take notice. Maybe for this rivalry, this will be the year.

Malik Zaire To Play Against Georgia?

By: TJ Hartnett

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The Georgia/Florida matchup at the end of October is always the biggest game of the year for either team.

It doesn’t matter what their respective records are, what they are playing for, what the season has been so far and even what the season will end up being after.

A national championship is nice, but there’s an argument that the only win that matters to the University of Georgia and to the University of Florida is the one they fight for in Jacksonville each year.

While UGA is sitting atop the SEC with a 7-0 record, Florida has floundered to a 3-3 first half going into a bye week prior to the big showdown against the Bulldogs.

Georgia has ridden the breakout performance of its freshman quarterback to great success, while the Gators have inexplicably kept a huge amount of potential on the bench.

Malik Zaire made headlines in the offseason when he picked the Gators to showcase his abilities as a quarterback. As a dynamic play caller who can beat teams in more than one way, he was expected to get the snaps from the get-go in 2017.

However, he’s spent most of the season as a spectator, while Florida has struggled to win half its games.

He’s the kind of player that was desperately needed in Gainesville, but it’s hard to contribute from the bench and with his lack of playing time, Florida’s struggles have continued, much to the surprise of no one.

The only game action Zaire has seen was coming in as relief during the second half of the season’s first game.

Luke Del Rio logged one start before his season was lost to an injury and the rest of the starts have belonged to redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks.

Franks has shown that he is not without skills, but he simply cannot seem to take the next step to being the kind of quarterback a team can rely on week in and week out. That’s what has been so frustrating for the Florida fans; there might be such a QB sitting on the bench every week.

The flipside to this very argument is that there is no guarantee that Zaire can turn their (admittedly, already lost) season around but what they’ve got on the field right now simply isn’t cutting it.

In the past two losses for Florida, Franks has totaled one touchdown on a shovel pass and thrown two interceptions. Why not play Zaire and at least find out what he can offer?

A follow-up question: is there a better time for finding out than against Georgia? The answer is no. You might think that a must-win game is no time to change things up so radically, but in fact it’s the perfect time.

With the bye week there’s extra time for the offense to get acclimated to a new QB and for a new QB to practice with the offense.

The downside is, of course, that they lose; but they have a very good chance of doing that if they put Franks up against Fromm anyway. If they play Zaire they are inserting a more experienced QB who could lead the upset, keep Florida in contention, and change the storyline for the Gators’ season.  The rewards far outweigh the risks in this situation.

That goes double since this would be against UGA. The fan base is already calling for Zaire and if he gets the start and leads Florida to victory he will be a hero in Gainesville.

If the worst thing that can happen is more of the same and the best thing that can happen is winning the biggest game of the year, then the choice isn’t a choice at all.

However, given that he’s been on the bench all season so far, there is no evidence that Florida has that kind of sense.

Dawgs Have Bite

By: Alex Mathis

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

There is a lot of buzz around the Georgia Bulldogs right now and they have earned every bit of the attention.

Georgia fans knew that this team could be good but did they think this good? Georgia is undefeated, only 8 other teams in the power 5 conferences can say that.

The season has had a little adversity but Kirby Smart’s Bulldogs have not missed a step. The Dawgs saw their number one quarterback go down and their freshman quarterback come in and lead the team just a good, if not better.

So far this season, the Notre Dame game has been the only nail biter. The Dawgs walked out of South Bend with a 20-19 victory.

The rest of the games have been won convincingly. Georgia’s 4 SEC games so far have been blowouts. They have combined outscored those opponents 170 to 45. Georgia’s defense has been smothering, and their offense has been impressive as well.

Defensively, Mel Tucker’s defense has been playing lights out. It seems like Coach Tucker has got his guys to fit his scheme and they are playing great.

Lorenzo Carter has been a pain in offenses butt this season. He leads the Bulldogs in sacks with 3 and has 22 tackles so far this season.

His decision to come back has paid off and he will more than likely be a first round pick in this year’s NFL draft.

Roquan Smith and J.R. Reed have also done a great job making things difficult for offenses. Smith might be the best linebacker in college football. He is able to get sideline to sideline and he is very physical once he gets there.

UGA got a blessing when Reed transferred to Athens. He is all over the field for the Bulldogs. He is second in tackles, and has recorded a sack, interception, blocked field goal, and several tackles for losses.

Offensively, Nick Chubb is balling. Georgia fans should send Paul Johnson and the rest of the Yellow Jackets a thank you note for beating UGA in Athens and tearing up the hedges. I am not so sure Chubb would be in red and black if they would not have happened last year.

Chubb has been dominant this year. He is leading the SEC in rushing with a total of 688 yards rushing.

Jake Fromm has also done a great job this year. Just last year this time he was playing high school football and now he is leading the number 2 team in the nation. So far, the stage has not been too big.

The play calling has helped him manage the game effectively. Not too much is asked of him and he is doing a great job doing his job. The offensive line has also made his job easier.

Last year, the UGA offensive line was horrendous. It was thought to be similar this year as well, but it has not been. The offensive line has helped pave the way for the number 1 rusher in the SEC. Coach Pittman’s offensive line will only get better as time goes on.

UGA is in a good spot at this point in the season. Up to this point, they have handled who has been on their schedule. This bye week has come at a great time for the Dawgs. Next week starts the meat of their schedule. The first stop is in Jacksonville against the Florida Gators.

I expect UGA to win this game but it is a rivalry game so you never really know. Then the Dawgs face off against South Carolina, Auburn, Kentucky, and then Georgia Tech.

I expect UGA to win the rest of these games and then meet up in Atlanta against Alabama.

This season could be a special one for Georgia. It is important for the Bulldogs to remember that they are being hunted now and they will get every team’s best for the rest of the season. This should be a fun ride the rest of the way.


World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party

By: Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

“The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party” has called Jacksonville home since 1933.

That is the unofficial official name of the rivalry between Georgia and Florida. I was born and raised in Georgia so it is called the Georgia/Florida game. Enough said about that.

On October 28th the teams will meet on the football field for the 96th time with Georgia holding a 50-43-2 lead in the series.

This game in Jacksonville makes sense for both schools economically and generates millions for Coastal Georgia as thousands of UGA fans usually spend their money on St. Simons and Jekyll Island for the long four day weekend. With UGA being 7-0 going into the game this year thousands of Dawg fans should flock to the Golden Isles.

Once Steve Spurrier became head coach of Florida back in 1990 the Gators took control of the series and won 7 straight contests from 1990 to 1996 with a two year hiatus from Jacksonville as what is EverBank Field today was built for the Jaguars debut in 1995.

The series went home and home in 1994 and 1995. Since 1990 the Gators are 19-6 in Jacksonville which has Generation Z and some Millennial Georgia fans and alumni complaining about the game still being played in Jacksonville.

Excuses you hear from young Dawg fans about the game being played in Jacksonville (remember the term young Dawg fans): Georgia is at a disadvantage playing in Florida. Georgia fans have to travel farther and spend more money. Gainesville is closer to Jacksonville than Athens. Florida players have the travel advantage.

I’m going to shoot holes in the three myths young UGA fans use to promote the home/home series argument with the annual cocktail party.

One thing you never hear is Florida fans promoting a home/home series with UGA. They are fine with the game in Jacksonville. Yeah, I know Generation Z folks will point out excuse number one listed above.

The fact of the matter is prior to 1990 UF had an overall record 21-37-1 against UGA in Jacksonville, but you never heard them whining about going to a home and home series.

Georgia leads the overall series 43-40-1 in games played in Jacksonville against the Gators. So, the reality is that UGA is not at a disadvantage playing in Jacksonville. Generation Z and some Millennial Dawg fans think their history is more important than overall history. Get over yourself.

Georgia fans have to travel farther and spend more money. Another myth. Miami is 350 miles from Jacksonville, and Pensacola is 359 miles away. Most Dawg fans live in the Atlanta metro area which is 350 miles from Jacksonville. Hotels and food in the Jacksonville cost the same for the Red and Black and Orange and Blue. Advantage to the local economies which favor the color Green.

Gainesville is closer to Jacksonville than Athens. Florida players have the travel advantage. Geographically true, but ok the facts are UF takes a one hour bus ride to Jacksonville and UGA takes a one hour flight to Jacksonville. Baby Boomers and Generation X Dawgs would take a one hour flight over a one hour bus ride any day of the week. Generation Z Dawgs have never ridden a bus in their life. Advantage UGA.

When you lose you make excuses like young UGA fans have for 27 years. UGA leads Florida in the football series and Kirby Smart is going to take control of the UF series once again.

Neutral site games seem to be becoming more popular again as many early season games now are moving to neutral sites to provide higher profile match ups.

The game in Jacksonville is booked through 2021. Tradition matters in college football. The decision also to allow both schools to wear their home colors at the game has gone over very well.

As a big fan of the pageantry and tradition that surrounds college football, I hope this game never leaves Jacksonville.

South Georgia UGA season ticket holders drive roughly 300 miles to every home football Saturday to Athens, Georgia. Just saying Generation Z.

If it matters you’ll always show up. Isn’t it funny that when your favorite team is doing well money is not an object?

Notre Dame Fans can attest to that with the Dawg invasion that took over South Bend in September.

Florida/Georgia Weirdness

By: Christian Goeckel

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

In a series that has been dominated by Florida in recent history, a lot of traditional football knowledge can be tossed to the wayside.

Remember the year Treon Harris completed three passes IN THE ENTIRE GAME and Florida still demolished Georgia 38-20?

Yeah, this series is the definition of “throw out the record books”. So, in the spirit of the World’s Largest Outdoor…or whatever it is now, I’m throwing out the same old matchup rundown and digging deep and getting weird with the fringe matchups that will decide this decidedly weird, beautiful, annual tradition.

Continue reading

Upset Minded Gators

By: Kenneth Harrison Jr.

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The Gators are off to a slow start this season, their .500 after six games.

They were ranked in the top 20 in the preseason in both the AP and Coaches Poll. Now they have a bye week before the showdown with No. 3 Georgia (7-0) in Jacksonville.

I honestly always give the edge to Florida because they’ve owned UGA since 1990, winning 21 of the 27 games. Florida having nine players suspended is why I think Georgia has a great opportunity to win.

There have been Gator teams in the past that faced long odds going in to a big game and found a way to win. I’m going to look at some of the best upsets in Florida history.

Sticking with this series, we can look back at 2002. Georgia was 8-0 and ranked fourth in the nation heading into the game. Florida was unranked with a 5-3 record. Ron Zook (remember him?) was in his first year as UF head coach.

On paper, this looked like a lopsided game. It turned out to be a tough game with both defenses playing well. Rex Grossman threw a touchdown in the fourth quarter to take a 20-13 lead. Georgia was not able to respond and that was the final score.

The Dawgs finished the season 13-1 and a win in the Sugar Bowl but that loss cost them a chance to play for a national championship. Florida finished the year 8-5.

The 2014 game also featured a Florida team that did not live up to expectations. Will Muschamp was never a good fit in Gainesville and he was in the last season of his lackluster tenure.

Florida was 3-3 and coming off an embarrassing 42-13 homecoming loss to Mizzou. Georgia was ranked ninth with a 6-1 record.

The Gators started true freshman quarterback Treon Harris who only attempted nine passes in the game. They ran wild over Georgia, rushing for 428 yards and won the game 38-20. That team also finished the season 8-5, which led to Jim McElwain being hired on December 4 of that year.

We can all agree the real turn around for Florida started when Steve Spurrier got hired as the head ball coach in 1990. During that season, they played No. 4 Auburn at home. The Tigers won the SEC the previous three years and were 6-0-1 with the tie against No.5 Tennessee.

The fifteenth ranked Gators pulled of the upset with a blowout win, 48-7. Auburn coach Pat Dye was dismissive about Spurrier’s offense before the game. That wound up being his worst loss of Dye’s career.

That following year in 1991 Florida State was 10-1 with the only loss against No. 2 Miami 17-16 the previous week. Florida was also 10-1 and ranked fifth. This was the first top five matchup in the series. The Gators won at home 14-9.

In Zook’s final game in 2004 he led his unranked team to a 20-13 win over No. 10 FSU in Tallahassee.

Even with the odds stacked against them Florida can still compete. They recruit well so they have talented players. Think twice before counting them out.

SEC East Report Card

By: Kenneth Harrison Jr.

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Going into the season we had a pretty good idea of who should win each conference. We had favorites to win the different divisions so we might know what the conference championship matchup might be.

One of the most unpredictable divisions had to be the SEC East. I’m going to give my report card for the division.

Georgia (4-0): It pains me as a Georgia Tech fan to praise UGA. They look head and shoulders above everyone else in the division.

Kirby Smart has the defense playing fast and physical mirroring Alabama (which is why he was hired). You know about the two beasts at running back, Nick Chubb and Sony Michel.

True freshman quarterback Jake Fromm is the real deal. My only concern is he’s experiencing everything for the first time so I don’t know how he’ll react. For instance, playing in front of over 100,000 fans at Neyland Stadium next week. Grade: A+

Florida (2-1): Since Tim Tebow left Gainesville the Gators have struggled on offense.

They were manhandled on both sides of the ball in the first game against No. 7 Michigan. Since then they have started to have a little more success moving the ball with freshman QB Felipe Franks.

There may be a quarterback controversy brewing because Luke Del Rio has been named the starter against Vanderbilt. They also have nine players facing felony fraud charges including WR Antonio Callaway and RB Jordan Scarlett.

We’re used to the annual beat down they give Georgia every year in Jacksonville but this can change everything if these players are suspended or dismissed. Grade: C

Kentucky (3-1): The Wildcats are coming off of a tough 28-27 loss to Florida over the weekend. So far, they look like the second most consistent team in the division. Senior QB Stephen Johnson is completing 64% of his passes and the offense has several playmakers. Mark Stoops is looking to keep his job and lead Kentucky to their second consecutive bowl appearance. Grade: B

South Carolina (3-1): The Gamecocks had an impressive win over NC State to begin the season. The lone loss was by ten points to Kentucky. They struggled to beat Louisiana Tech over the weekend 17-16. It looks like Will Muschamp has finally gotten a team that can play some offense. As a team, they are inconsistent so we aren’t sure if they will play to the level of competition from week to week. Grade: B-

Vanderbilt (3-1): Vandy had an impressive win at home over No. 18 Kansas State a couple of weeks ago. Then they got destroyed 59-0 by Alabama the following week.

The Commodores aren’t as talented as the rest of the division but they play hard and disciplined.

They should play solid enough to win three more games but they don’t match up well with Georgia, Florida or Tennessee. Grade: B

Tennessee (3-1): We knew the Vols would have a tough time replacing QB Joshua Dobbs. Quinten Dormady has struggled, only completing 58% of his passes and throwing 6 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. Running back John Kelly is the focal point of the offense averaging 112 rushing yards per game with 6 TD’s.

The Vols beat Ga Tech by one point in their first game and honestly should have lost. Florida beat them on the last play of the game with a Hail Mary. There coming off of a lackluster 17-13 win over U Mass. Grade: C-

Missouri (1-3): Their record says it all. The loan win was against an FCS team. They’ve been blown out in every other game. Grade: F


Georgia Best In SEC East?

By: JJ Lanier

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

At the beginning of the season the SEC was shaping up to be a three headed monster.

You had Georgia, Florida, and possibly Tennessee, all favored at one point or another to contend for the division title.

I know we’re only three weeks in and things can change quicker than the cast of All My Children but right now it feels obvious that Georgia is separating itself from the rest of the pack.

Continue reading

College Football Week One

By: JJ Lanier

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

After 8 long months the wait is finally over: the college football season has finally arrived. And nothing welcomes the beginning of a new year quite like the obligatory “Five Week 1 Prognostications Guaranteed To Go Wrong, But It Doesn’t Matter Because I’ll Write About Something Completely Different Next Week And Never Mention These Predictions Again.” Sounds like a good time, right?

  • Georgia will beat Appalachian State, but not by much and will actually trail at some point in the second half.

I know I’m not going on too much of a limb to predict a Georgia win, and as much as I wanted to pick an Appalachian victory, I just can’t do it. The Mountaineers return an experienced team on both sides of the ball and a 5th year senior in Quarterback, Tyler Lamb. They should’ve beaten Tennessee last year and will make UGA work for it this year. The Dawgs are too athletic and too talented not to come away with a win, though.

  • Alabama will lose to Florida State.

I know it’s not all that wise to go against Alabama, basically ever, but intelligence has never really been my strong suit. What I do know is this, the last time Nick Saban lost back to back games was probably when he was the head coach of the Miami Dolphins. He handled that adversity so well he decided to leave the NFL and go back to college. My hope is that if he loses to Florida State maybe he’ll leave college football and go back to high school. One can dream, right?

  • LSU will fail to score 20 points on a BYU team that thinks about defense the same way Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor think about humility.

Ed Orgeron did some good things for the Tigers last year after replacing Les Miles; mainly reinvigorating the fan base. Their offense SHOULD be better than it was last year, but then again, I should know better than to eat an entire pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream before watching Game of Thrones, yet I do it anyway. Point is, a lot of things that should be different, oftentimes never change. See, LSU Offense.

  • South Alabama will beat Ole Miss.

South Alabama is a middle of the pack, Sun Belt conference team, that should have no business bearing any SEC team. Fortunately for them, they’re playing the one SEC team that probably doesn’t have any business winning a SEC game either. I have no idea what to expect from the Rebels this year, except it’s not going to be a pretty site in Oxford.

  • The Florida/Michigan game will wind up being the most intriguing game of the weekend.

I have no idea if it’ll be because the play on the field will be that exciting or because there’s a 50/50 chance that Jim Harbaugh and Jim McElwain will fight it out Mortal Kombat style halfway through the game. Either way, one of those two things will happen and it will be glorious to behold.

Now that I have channeled my inner Nostradamus feel free to enter this most sacred of weekends with the knowledge that these outcomes have already been foretold.

Of course, if I happen to be mistaken don’t waste your time letting me know. At that point, I’ll have already forgotten what I said and moved on to my next topic. You didn’t think I would hold myself accountable for my own thoughts, did you?