Five reasons Gators took control of Florida-Georgia rivalry


Florida's Jeff Demps readies to make a catch near the goal line in the first half of the Florida-Georgia football game at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Fla. Oct. 30, 2010. Florida won 34-31 in overtime.

Brad McClenny/Staff photographer
Published: Friday, October 28, 2011 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, October 28, 2011 at 12:39 a.m.

There was a time when Georgia dominated the series against Florida. So many times, underdog Bulldog teams ruined any hopes the Gators had of winning the SEC. Some of the losses were mind-numbing — Lindsay Scott, Fourth-and-Dumb, the tight end-around pass.

But over the past 21 seasons, this series has belonged to the Gators. They have won 18 of the 21 games and one of those losses came the week Ron Zook was fired.




How did Florida wrestle away control of the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party? Here are five explanations:

1. Steve Spurrier

Spurrier changed the mentality of the series. He talked about how much easier it was for Florida to travel, how the game was in the state of Florida and how the game was played in the GATOR Bowl. Then, he went out and beat the Bulldogs 11 of 12 times. It wasn't just the mentality that changed. Florida was pretty darn good during Spurrier's reign.

2. Georgia not elite

It may be painful for Bulldog fans to hear, but during the 21-season run by Florida, Georgia hasn't been one of the league's top teams. The Bulldogs were 98-67 during the stretch in SEC play. Good, but not great. They came into the game unranked as many times as they came in ranked in the top 10 (seven). Georgia won the East three times during the 19 years of divisional play to Florida's nine times. And in the three seasons Georgia won the East, the Bulldogs lost to the Gators all three times.

3. Florida makes the plays

College football games often come down to a handful of plays in a game. Whether it has been game-winning field goals, crucial interceptions or picking up key third downs, the Gators have had a knack of making the necessary plays. During Urban Meyer's six years, Florida was an amazing plus-16 in turnover margin. In the last three UF wins, the Gators have won the turnover battle 12-to-1.

4. Not-so-instant karma

Things had to turn around eventually, right? Once coach Vince Dooley, who was 17-7-1 against the Gators, was out of the picture, Florida started getting some breaks. Whether it was Anthone Lott's time-out call or Terrence Edwards dropping a wide-open touchdown pass, things have usually gone the way of the orange and blue. Those breaks may not make up for Lindsay Scott, but they haven't hurt.

5. 2002: A Gator oddity

Spurrier was out the door, headed to the NFL when the two teams met in 2002. Florida was struggling under Ron Zook and Georgia was ranked fifth in the country. This would be the year for Georgia to turn things around, right? Wrong. Florida stunned Georgia, in part thanks to Edwards' dropped pass, and won again the next season. Even though Georgia won in 2004, Florida has won seven of the last nine post-Spurrier.

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at dooleyp@gvillesun.com. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.

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