Breaking some myths in Florida-Georgia rivalry

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Florida-Georgia fans at last year's game at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville. (Bob Self/Florida Times Union)
It’s so good to see Florida-Georgia be more about the present than the past (said someone who doesn’t care if he ever sees the Lindsay Scott play again, ever).
Both programs have had their scuffling years, some of which have made CBS wonder why they chose the game in the summer.
But this, this game is glorious. No. 6 vs. No. 8. Teams both in the hunt for a playoff berth and the SEC East title.
Still, there are some myths about this game that need to be addressed, and I will avoid the ones that may or may not involve details of me and some of my colleagues in Jacksonville over the years.
I offer these:
Coaches lose their jobs over the results of this game.
Certainly, losing a rivalry game can hurt any coach with his fan base and athletic director. But, on the Florida side at least, it hasn’t been the case.
Jim McElwain was on the way out the door before he coached his last game against Georgia (and because his players knew it, they no-showed). Before his last game as a UF coach, he was 2-0 against Georgia.
Will Muschamp was fired two weeks after he BEAT Georgia for the first time.
Ron Zook was 2-0 against Georgia when he was let go.
On the other side, there was a lot more than a losing record against Florida that led to Mark Richt’s demise. Jim Donnan broke a seven-game losing streak to Florida in his second season, but three years later he was out of coaching.
Ray Goff? Well, yeah, maybe the Goofer was all about how he did against Florida.
This game is a de facto College Football Playoff game.
No, it’s not. It’s likely an elimination game, because it’s tough to see a path for a two-loss team into the CFP.
But it’s not even close to a playoff game.
If Florida wins, the Gators still have to win at Missouri, a team that has four wins over UF by 19 or more points in the last six years, and a rivalry game against FSU.
Georgia still has Missouri, Auburn and Texas A&M to play.
And the winner of this game would have to run the table, then beat LSU or Alabama in the SEC Championship Game to make the playoffs.
Oh, by the way, if Missouri wins its appeal with the NCAA and the Tigers win out, they are in Atlanta.
So this isn’t even close to a playoff game.
But the SEC East championship is on the line right?
Did you not read that last segment? It could be wrapped up next week for the winner of the game if the right things happen, but there is a lot of football to be played and if you haven’t heard, things get weird after Halloween.
Georgia is struggling and Florida is overrated.
Actually, Florida is rated exactly where the Gators should be based on body of work so far. The Gators have had a brutal schedule and the one loss is to the No. 1 team in the country.
Georgia is hardly struggling. The Bulldogs have the No. 1 defense in the SEC and ranks ahead of Florida in both scoring and total offense. Georgia also has the SEC’s leading rusher in D’Andre Swift.
Coach Kirby Smart’s gone old school. Georgia’s 2019 team isn’t sexy, but it isn’t struggling. It is extremely efficient.
This game defines a season.
No, no it doesn’t. This is not to diminish the importance of this game, but Georgia has represented the East seven times and in three of those years the Bulldogs lost to the Gators.
Shoot, when people define Florida’s 1997 season, is it about the greatest game ever played against FSU or Steve Spurrier’s only loss to the ’Dogs?
It’s kind of like the Tennessee game was in the 1990s, only later. It’s very important, but not defining.
They might write books about it and it has its own Hall of Fame, but no rings are awarded.
The game defines the quarterbacks.
Again, not really. I’m sure it does in the eyes of the quarterbacks. Treon Harris went 2-0 as a starter against Georgia. Spurrier went 1-2 and his offenses only scored 31 points total.
Who’s got a statue and his name on the building?
Danny Wuerffel’s definition barely includes a sentence on Georgia. Tim Tebow’s does mainly because he broke an SEC record for TDs in the 2008 game.
But Tebow’s only loss to Georgia came in a year where he won the Heisman Trophy. Which one do you think is more memorable?
And let’s face it — Jake Fromm’s career will not be defined by what he does Saturday.
In conclusion (what is this a Power Point presentation?) this game always matters and is one of the coolest things college football offers us.
Just know that what really matters Saturday are these three things:
1. Turnovers (Florida has lost that battle 5-1 the last two years).
2. Rushing yards (The winner the last five years has averaged 251.4 yards in the game).
3. Coaching. (No pressure, guys).
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at pat.dooley@gvillesun.com. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.

11 COMMENTS

  1. A myth being a popular folklore that has been sustained over many, many years, and one which persists despite evidence to the contrary, while I have been a devoted Gator fan since 1960 I can honestly say that I never heard any of these. Well, that’s not entirely true…..I have heard the contemporary, popular media narrative this year that Florida is over-rated and Georgia is struggling. However, not having risen yet to the level of myth, that one says a lot more about the state of modern sports journalism that it does misguided and irrational college football fans — particularly those of the Gator persuasion, who indeed are considerabley more savvy than most on the main.

  2. The winner of this game ain’t losing to Mizzou imo. Granted they still need to beat them, but I just can’t see Mizzou pulling the upset. I honestly think we’ve been sold a bag of goods on Mizzou. Bryant doesn’t know where to go with the ball quickly enough vs either the UGA or UF defense. I agree this isn’t a “playoff” game but the elimination aspect essentially means you better win to have any chance of a playoff game. Semantics.

    • I suspect you’re right, Wadeless …… but that game still bugs me for some reason. I don’t think there’s any doubt of the outcome on paper, but until we lay a tatoo on those yankees I’m going to hold my breath just a little longer…………

  3. But the SEC East championship is on the line right? Well, yes it is. This is not a myth, it is fact. Mizzou has to travel to Athens and has Florida coming to town. Come on Dooley, 6-2 gets it done in the East and that ain’t gonna be Missouri.

  4. After what Pat said about who wins the rushing battle, it appears he’ll pick the Dawgies with that logic– since they have Swift and a big line blocking for him. So predictable. Prove me wrong Pat and go with the team with no give up and a coach who deserves SEC Coach of the Year for keeping his team playing at a high level after so many key injuries. Pick against the odds. You can do it.

  5. While Georgia may very well establish their run game against the Gator defense in the first half, expect the Gators to keep the score close at halftime. After adjustments are made during the halftime break, Florida will start to put more pressure on the Georgia QB and start to really shut down Georgia’s running attack. I predict two interceptions by the Gators versus none by Georgia. Each team will probably fumble once. Florida wins the turnover game. While Georgia may win the time of possession, the Gators will be more productive with their passing game, and yes, we will see 2-3 really good runs by our backs (probably in the 2nd half) – possibly one taking it all the way to the house. Florida has too many weapons on offense to be contained – Georgia will lose some of the battles leading to Gator scores. Final Score: 33-28 Florida.

  6. Yea ^ I agree I think these “myths” are a creation of dooley’s mind just to create an article! Been a fan since the 60’s and I never heard any of them. Overated and struggling arent myths, they are opinions of fans every year, in every sport.
    Regarding Ga struggling the only decent teams they have played were ND, SC and less so UK. All those others and their stats from those games dont count. SO, those stats are overated! Lets look at just those 2 games over good but not great teams(ND just proved that last week). Ga only score 23 and allowed 17 over ND and only scored 17 against SC’s 20. Then a lower level UK all Ga could muster was 21. So 23, 17 and 20 points against teams quite inferior to UF. Those are not Auburn or LSU quality teams that UF has played and scored on and held(LSU doesnt count cause we didnt have Greenard or Zuniga and everyone knows what a drop off without them we have). Ga got exposed once they played a few good teams. UF hasnt been exposed playing top competition! Im not concerned with their defensive numbers created against scrubs!
    Hogtowngator1-right-on!
    Iamiowan- I agree that the game wont be decided till the 4th qtr, no blow outs here, I dont think.
    Ga has a much harder row to hoe the rest of the season to go undefeated. In my opinion, UF is all downhill after the GA game! The last few games MO. has been exposed. Not saying they dont have to prepare each game cause if they dont they could lose to anybody thats very prepared. With Dan Mullen as coach I dont think that’s going to happen!

  7. MYTH: The St. Johns River flows North. But I haven’t ever seen anyone just chilling on a raft floating ”north” on that river (just kidding, the Nile River flows north, too. And they’re ”the 2 only rivers IN THE WORLD” to do so). But this is the ”REALITY KILLER,” in my opinion: ”Turnovers, Florida has lost that battle 5-1 the last two years.” Win the turnover battle, and who cares about ”the myths,” you’ll probably win the game.
    ”Whoomp, there it is!” Not a myth, we actually used to say back that back in the day.
    Go Gators Just win baby!