Big moment for our program as the World’s Largest Cocktail Party looks to be called GEORGIA-FLORIDA instead of “Florida-Georgia” for the next full year. I propose the winner get first name in the series and the losing fans HAVE to say it the right way or face public ridicule. It’d be cool.
Big moment in time for three key UGA Floridians: Faton Bautu, Mark Richt, Sony Michel. Richt has a respectable .500 record versus SEC West powers LSU and Bama and holds a considerable winning mark over every other conference program except Florida (5-9). When you consider a lack of stability equating to major dips (and high highs) of the Florida program as they’ve churned through five head football coaches during Richt’s tenure, a 1-of-3 average mark simply won’t cut the mustard in our most important rivalry. While Auburn is our oldest rival and Tech in-state, neither of those other traditional big three rivals plays in the SEC East, and neither has had that much success with Georgia under Richt.
But Richt has not won down here regularly at all without Aaron Murray. Murray hailed from Tampa and pushed an Urban Meyer led Gators team to overtime in his first year starting, before struggling to beat them close three straight times. Georgia had beaten them only once under coach Jim Donnan, just once behind the Davids Greene and Pollack, and then once with Stafford and Moreno. Three total wins since 1990 for our program before Murray donned the Red and Black. We still hold a pretty sizable advantage in the history of the rivalry, but it’s grown bigger since Georgia went three-and-one over the past four.
Last year was bad. It was that super-troubling once-a-year game where Georgia just does not show up. Once it starts to go bad, we don’t fix it at all until it is well too late. We got that out of the way already this year, though, didn’t we? And we got the choke it up late heartbreak game which occurs every year out of the way on Rocky Top, too. I literally saw that one coming for years. Suddenly our manageable schedule saw us clawing to stay in the division race through October. Trends do say #GEORGIA bounces back.
The Gators missed Gurley last year and Chubb this year. Versatile and dynamic, Sony Michel as our primary ball carrier does not worry me much. He was held below a hundred against a scrappy Mizzou defense, but they have not yielded a 100-yard game to any runner this year, though their offense has struggled to maintain possession of the ball. And it was revealed that Michel played hurt. He’s well now.
Scouting the Florida Gators this season in preparation for this moment, I realized Greyson Lambert versus their stellar defensive backs was a highly unfavorable matchup. He holds the ball too long and locks on his primary receiver too clearly, and the Gators ballhawk. They lead the SEC in turnover margin at plus nine and have won so many close games with takeaways that they sit alone atop the SEC East.
Here it is, again, y’all. Another big moment.
By the time I’d hung around Athens for four years, I had a pretty good grasp on what the place was all about. I knew how big the annual Cocktail Party was, for sure. I’m thinking Faton came to UGA for this moment. The player routinely compared to Tim Tebow could go down in Cocktail Party lore. Or not.