Worlds Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party

Almighty Georgia Bulldogs

By: Robert Craft news services

The St. Johns River will soon be flooded with fans of orange and blue, and fans of red and black. It’s Florida-Georgia week, one like none other in over 30 years.

The No. 1 Georgia Bulldogs and Florida Gators will meet at TIAA Bank Field on Saturday and Georgia will come into the game as the two time defending National Champions.

Georgia handled business in their last game when they defeated the Vanderbilt Commodores 37-20. They will look to nurse their injured players during their bye week and return with more strength on the roster.

The Gators, on the other hand, overcame a double-digit deficit on the road to defeat the South Carolina Gamecocks. They’ll also be taking advantage of the week off.

Despite both teams coming off wins, the Bulldogs still find themselves as massive favorites. Georgia is currently a -23.5 point favorite over the arch-rival Florida Gators.

The Bulldogs, 7-0 overall and 4-0 in the SEC East with a Oct. 28 showdown with Florida approaching, lost their Superman (Brook Bowers) to an ankle injury that required surgery.

Bowers is a junior and will enter the NFL Draft after the season. A high ankle sprain heals by itself with plenty of time before the NFL combine.

Instead, Bowers is getting the tightrope surgery, and right away. That’s a huge sign from him that he wants to play again this season for Georgia.

He doesn’t need to show anything to NFL scouts. But his team is in contention for a national championship, and while it’s easy for outsiders to say “Just opt out, make a business decision,” it’s much harder for someone to abandon his teammates when a ring is on the line.

Bowers has played in every game since he arrived at Georgia. He’s not the sole reason Georgia is 36-1 over that span, but he’s a big reason the offense took off during that time: Defenses had to account for him in coverage, and Bowers is also a good blocker.

The Bulldogs are still loaded with talent. Carson Beck, in his first year as Georgia’s starting quarterback, has the fourth-most passing yards (2,147) in the nation. And barely more than a quarter of those (26.4 percent) have gone to Bowers.

Oscar Delp, who now becomes TE1, is no slouch. He’s Georgia’s fifth-leading receiver and was a top-100 recruit in the 2022 class. His blocking has been rough at times, which is why Lawson Luckie may see a lot of snaps in rotation as TE2.

Georgia’s main emphasis may become “spread-out-and-throw”. Beck likes to sit back in the pocket and find the open receiver, and the pass blocking this year has been good.

Plus, you have Ladd McConkey  being back, Rara Thomas getting more comfortable, and other receivers who can make plays.

Georgia’s running game has also started to get stronger, especially if Kendall Milton can stay healthy. That could also allow Dillon Bell to play more receiver or a hybrid position.

Maybe Georgia doesn’t have the X-factor for its’ offense as long as Bowers is out, but a more traditional receivers-and-tailbacks game can get you through an opponent like Florida.

The Bulldog defense will  keep the Gators in check, maybe along the lines of 14-to-20 points, a Bowers-less offense will take it from there, and the lead will get bigger and bigger.

Georgia 42  Florida 17

Law of Averages

By: Jeff Doke news services

As I write this, we are getting closer to the 102nd edition of the Georgia/Florida game (101st if you go by Florida’s lackluster standards).

Close to kickoff of one of the most anticipated editions of the WLOCP in recent memory, and I’m as jittery as a hyper-caffeinated hummingbird. I’m sure most of my fellow Dawgs are feeling the same way, but not for the same reasons.

I mean, sure, the temporary loss of Brock Bowers has all of us walking on eggshells, but that’s not it. With Oscar Delp Lawson Luckie, and Pearce Spurlin still in the TE room, we’re still above the curve in that position.

Never mind the fact that Georgia’s WR corps is the strongest it’s been in…well, arguably ever. Dominic Lovett, Rara Thomas, and a finally healthy Ladd McConkey are finally coming into their own. In fact, receivers not wearing the #19 for the Dawgs have amassed almost 1800 yards so far this season.

The defense isn’t it, either. Sure, they’re not as legendary as the last two years’ squads, but they’re not Division II scrubs either. In fact, going into the bye week, the 2023 UGA Defense is ranked first in the SEC in:


Rushing yards allowed

Passing yards allowed

Total yards allowed


3rd Down conversions

Passes defended

Plays of 20+ yards

The disappointing Vandy game, maybe? Nope, not that either. Let’s be honest. Kirby Smart and company took on that game like a scrimmage. They ran a noticeable number of plays and formations that they’ve been having problems with just to work on them while they could.

And don’t get me started on that field. The fans noticed players slipping all over the place, and the players confirmed it during postgame. The Commode Doors stadium quite aptly lived up to their nickname.

I bemoaned the “sky is falling” mentality of Dawg Nation in cyberspace in my last article. You would think that would be it, but TwitterX seems to have cleared it’s head, and as for Facebook…let’s just say the “Snooze for 30 Days” feature is one of the few things that future lizzid people overlord Mark Zuckerberg has gotten right in the last decade. No, I’m in a good headspace there as well.

What’s got me nervous is two things from what I can tell.

First, Florida is bad. REALLY bad. They lost a spring game to themselves and their head coach was the quickest Gators head coach to reach 8 losses since Jim McElwain. Yet, they continue to win games that they shouldn’t. I was sure Tennessee was finally going to break their losing streak in Gainesville this year, and the Orange & Blue had absolutely NO BUSINESS coming back to beat USC jr like that.

Second, things are just lining up too nicely for Georgia if you look at the numbers. I once again quote the Floridian singer/songwriter Delma Suggs when I say, “when everything’s coming up roses, I get suspicious.”

And as a bonus, there’s the sinking feeling that these are the last few WLOCPs in Jacksonville.

The Jags are going to have a massive stadium overhaul that’s going to take the better part of 2026-2027, and the current GA/FL agreement with the city of Jax runs out in 2025. I know Dawg Nation is pretty bitterly divided about this one , but I fear the game’s days in DUUUVAL are numbered.

Enjoy it while you can, my fellow 912 Dawgs. The end of our halcyon days may be approaching.

Gators Tough Swim

By: TJ Hartnett news services

The Florida Gators are 3-3 this season after losing consecutive games at home against Texas A&M and LSU.

Despite winning the SEC East the last two years, they have effectively erased their chances at a threepeat after the being on the wrong side of the 19-17 game against A&M.

More than a few eyebrows have been raised at the state of the team, some being pointed at head coach Jim McElwain. I wonder, however, if it is fair to blame him for the losses, or should he instead be praised for leading a bad team to a .500 record so far?

Their loss to the Aggies was only a loss within the last minute of the game, after several big plays led to fourth-quarter field goals. The collapse could certainly be attributed to the fact that nearly a quarter of their roster was unavailable.

Florida is stretched very thin. There are nine players, including key receiver Antonio Calloway and key rusher Jordan Scarlett, that are suspended pending a felony investigation into a credit card fraud scheme. That isn’t funny per se, but it is almost amusingly indictive of Florida’s cluster of a season.

There are also tons of injuries, including a season-ender to QB Luke Del Rio that has forced redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks into the lineup (despite the availability of Malik Zaire).

Franks has plenty of room for improvement. Although he had a huge run, he missed open receivers and showed little feel for managing a game. Franks completed 17 of 26 passes for 129 yards with 2 interceptions and 5 sacks.

His longest completion against the league’s 12th-ranked passing unit was an impromptu flip to Malik Davis, that the running back turned into a 20-yard gain during Florida’s opening drive.

So maybe Florida should be commended for even being in games? McElwain insists there are no free passes.

Still, the lengthy injury list includes the team’s leading tackler (safety Marcell Harris) from 2016 as well as dynamic receiver Kadarius Toney, deep threat Tyrie Cleveland, safety Nick Washington, defensive end Jabari Zuniga, guard Brett Heggie, linebacker Jeremiah Moon and running back Mark Thompson.

Defensive end Jordan Sherit, a fifth-year senior, joined them on the sideline in the fourth quarter with a hip injury that McElwain said will require surgery. With and without Sherit, the Aggies piled up 127 yards on 27 plays in the final frame.

But Florida’s ongoing issues seemingly go deeper than manpower. McElwain spent seven months raving about his offensive line, even calling it the “true strength” of his team, and the unit has been mediocre at best.

And the guy who once claimed he could win with his dog at quarterback has an offense that has managed four touchdown passes in six games, and that includes an improbable 63-yarder on the final play to beat Tennessee and two in which Kentucky failed to cover receivers.

Meanwhile, the quarterback McElwain encouraged to transfer following his suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs in 2015, West Virginia’s Will Grier, has 21 touchdown passes. The Gators are 16-11 since Grier’s suspension, with three of those wins coming against seemingly overmatched opponents in payday games.

Here’s the most telling part for McElwain and Florida: It could be worse. If not for those defensive gaffes by Tennessee and Kentucky, the Gators could be 1-5 heading into their bye week and entering a rivalry game against third-ranked Georgia as huge underdogs.

Undermanned underdogs.

Georgia/Florida Rivalry Should Be Bigger

By: JJ Lanier 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.

World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party

By: Kipp Branch 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.

The Rivalry

jjBy: JJ Lanier news services

You learn at a pretty young age one of the things that makes sports so great are all the different rivalry games that take place year in and year out.

It almost starts as this kind of rite of passage that every young sports enthusiast must take. In elementary school you start pulling for a particular team, normally based upon who your parents root for, and learn fairly quickly there are certain teams that under no known circumstance, are you ever to pull for. Surely you remember going to school in the shirt with your favorite team’s logo plastered all over it, joking around the with kids pulling for the other team.

Some rivalry games are more localized than others, while some are on a much larger, nationwide scale. The Georgia/Florida games falls somewhere in between.

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