Matt Brown neatly sums up what Spurrier hath wrought in this series.
For decades, Georgia mostly owned this rivalry. Before Steve Spurrier took over at Florida in 1990, the Bulldogs had won 15 of the previous 19 games. Since the Spurrier and SEC East eras began, however, Georgia has often struggled, even as a substantial favorite.
In the past 25 years, Georgia has entered the Cocktail Party game ranked in the AP top 10 eight times. It is just 1-7 in those games, with five of those seven losses coming in games in which Florida had a lower ranking or no ranking.
In 1992, Florida and Georgia both finished 6-2 in the SEC, but the Gators played in the inaugural SEC title game because they upset the No. 7 Bulldogs. In 2002, Georgia suffered its only loss of the season to an unranked Florida. In 2003, No. 4 Georgia fell to No. 23 Florida by a field goal. In 2005, undefeated Georgia had its perfect season spoiled by the Gators. In 2014, the beginning of the end of the Mark Richt era effectively came when No. 9 Georgia lost 38-20 to a 3-3 Florida team — sound familiar? — that completed three passes all game.
Sure, there were plenty of seasons sprinkled in there when Florida had clearly the better, more talented teams. It’s just as clear, though, that Georgia’s been a head case for those 25 years. Just ask the expert.
As much as the season’s at stake, then, it’s just as big for the Dawgs to take a step forward and return the balance of the Cocktail Party to a rational setting.
It all adds up to make Saturday’s game one of the biggest in the rivalry in years because, no matter how far behind Florida appears, Georgia can’t help but measure itself based on how it performs against the Gators. Even when it’s having a great season, it often still has a Florida problem. If it wants to flip the balance of power in the SEC East, it has to take care of business against a struggling Florida team and emphasize that the pecking order truly is changing.
If there’s ever been a time to make a statement in the Cocktail Party, this is it.
No shit. As I posted earlier in the week, that’s really Kirby’s next test. I hope he passes it with flying colors.