While the Georgia vs Florida game may not officially be called the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party anymore I still believe it is one of the best rivalry nicknames. Georgia and Florida have one of the best rivalries in the SEC. The two programs meet in Jacksonville each year to play. Depending which school you ask the programs have met either 99 or 100 times. Florida does not recognize the first matchup in 1904 while Georgia does. Since 2008 Florida and Georgia each have seven victories in the rivalry. Georgia is the likely favorite this season since they are the defending National Champion but Florida has pulled the upset before. Diving into the matchup is #27 in our series 99 Things.
My favorite moments of this rivalry were in the 2007 and 2008 matchup. The 2007 game has an iconic moment. After Georgia scored the first touchdown of the game the entire team stormed the field to celebrate. Georgia received two excessive celebration penalties resulting in the Bulldogs kicking off from their own eight yard line. Mark Richt’s team would go on to win 42-30 over Urban Meyer’s Gators. 2008 would be the revenge game for Meyer. Meyer instructed his players not to talk about the 2007 matchup in interviews leading up to the game. The Gators would stomp Georgia by a score of 49-10. Meyer used his final two timeouts of the game with less than one minute left in the fourth quarter and the game put away. He called the timeouts in apparent revenge to the touchdown celebration the year prior so his team and the fans had more time to enjoy the victory.
We took a look at the Georgia defense on day 42. The Bulldogs may be replacing more than half of their defense but many expect them to still be top notch. Key players such as Kelee Ringo, Jalen Carter and Nolan Smith will help Georgia once again compete for a national title. The biggest question for me is their offense. Stetson Bennett proved me wrong and is better than serviceable at quarterback. He is not a candidate to be a first round pick in the next NFL draft but he can lead the Bulldog offense. Georgia’s offensive focus over the past decade has been on the run game. Kenny McIntosh and Kendall Milton both saw playing time last year and will be the lead running backs after Zamir White and James Cook departed for the NFL.
The Florida Gators have questions all of the field. The one position with some certainty is quarterback. Anthony Richardson split time with Emory Jones last season. Jones has since transferred to Arizona State allowing Richardson to be the lone quarterback at the top of the depth chart. Richardson only played in seven games last season. He threw for 529 yards while rushing for 401. Justin Shorter will likely be the top receiver for the Gators after hauling in 41 receptions for 550 yards last season. The Gator defense will also need to improve after finished 74th in opponents points per game.
Typically I am against neutral site games but this rivalry has tradition of playing in Jacksonville. Georgia and Florida have played in Jacksonville every year since 1933 with the exception of a two year span when the stadium was being rebuilt for the Jacksonville Jaguars expansion team. The Gators did not play many games in Gainesville when sports were being popularized in the early 1900s which resulted in numerous games being played in offsite locations. The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party will resume once again in 2022 in Jacksonville on October 29. Georgia has won four of the last five but can Billy Napier get a win in his first season?