Easily one of college football’s most unique rivalries, Florida-Georgia also has produced a sea of memorable moments, performances and games. So as the Dawgs and Gators get set to clash as top-10 foes for the second straight season, let’s relive some of those moments in a series that has been played every year in Jacksonville, Florida, since 1933 except for 1943, because of World War II, and 1994 and 1995, when it moved to the two campuses because of stadium renovations.
The names alone that go hand in hand with this rivalry get the blood flowing: Steve Spurrier. Herschel Walker. Vince Dooley. Tim Tebow. Larry Munson. Urban Meyer.
So sit back and enjoy as we await what could be another classic on the banks of the St. Johns River.
1966: Spurrier’s dubious hat trick
Steve Spurrier was 11-1 against Georgia as Florida’s head coach, and nobody reveled in beating up on the Dawgs more than the Head Ball Coach. But as a varsity player, it was the other way around. He was just 1-2. And no game in the series was more difficult for Spurrier to stomach than the 1966 contest when the Gators rolled in unbeaten and ranked No. 7 nationally. Spurrier won the Heisman Trophy that season, but Georgia intercepted him three times, including one that was returned for a touchdown, to win 27-10 and derail the Gators’ SEC championship hopes. Instead, the win propelled Vince Dooley, who was in his third season as Georgia’s head coach, to the first of six SEC titles with the Dawgs and a berth in the Cotton Bowl.
1967: Trapp to the rescue
Even Richard Trapp jokes that his dazzling 52-yard catch and run for a touchdown in Florida’s 17-16 comeback win over Georgia more than 50 years ago “gets better and better every year.” Trapp, who caught nine passes for 171 yards that day, gathered in a pass on a curl pattern and evaded one Georgia defender after another on his way to the end zone, drawing Florida within 16-14 with less than seven minutes to play. Wayne Barfield’s 31-yard field goal with 29 seconds to play won it for the Gators, who were coming off a loss at Auburn.
1975: “The girders are bending”
According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the legend of Larry Munson took off with Georgia’s 10-7 upset of No. 11 Florida. Tight end Richard Appleby threw an 80-yard touchdown pass to Gene Washington on an end-around play for the Dawgs’ only touchdown, and Munson screamed over the airwaves in his gravelly voice, “The Gator Bowl is rocking. … The girders are bending.” Erk Russell’s “Junkyard Dawg” defense had to stop Florida two more times to preserve the win. Interestingly enough, Georgia had run the end-around play earlier in the season against Vanderbilt. But in that game, Appleby, who was a high school quarterback, kept the ball. Georgia coaches wanted to save the pass option of the play and unveiled it against the Gators.
1980: Run, Lindsay, run
Florida fans may beg to differ, but no play in this series is more iconic than Lindsay Scott’s catch and 93-yard touchdown run to save Georgia in a 26-21 win that also saved the Dawgs’ unbeaten national championship season. Georgia was backed up against its own goal line and facing third-and-11 when Buck Belue hit Scott over the middle on a curl route. Scott took off toward the Georgia sideline — with players, coaches and managers following him every step of the way — and blazed his way into Georgia football immortality. Scott’s touchdown set the scene for one of the more memorable radio calls in college football history, as Munson roared, “Run, Lindsay, run.” Best-selling Southern author Lewis Grizzard left the game dejectedly and had to listen to the final minutes from the street. Belue said it “felt like the ground was shaking” when Scott crossed the goal line. Unfortunately for Belue’s mother, she didn’t see it. She left her seat and headed toward the Georgia locker room to console her son and missed witnessing the miracle play, one that overshadowed even Herschel Walker’s 37-carry, 238-yard performance.
1984: Bell to Nattiel
Florida fans still grit their teeth at the mention of the 1984 season. The Gators won their first SEC championship that year only to have it vacated several months later by a vote of the SEC presidents because of widespread NCAA violations. Despite the disappointment of having the title stripped, there’s still a play from that season that warms the hearts of Gators everywhere. Freshman walk-on quarterback Kerwin Bell dropped back into his own end zone and threw a strike to Ricky Nattiel for a 96-yard touchdown pass, punctuating Florida’s 27-0 thumping of No. 8-ranked Georgia. Afterward, Florida fans celebrated by ripping down the goalposts and digging up chunks of the turf. They were taking out their frustration as much as they were celebrating. Coach Charley Pell had been fired three games into the season for his role in the improprieties and replaced by Galen Hall. Georgia had won six in a row in the series entering the game, and only 18 days earlier, the NCAA had placed Florida on three years of probation.
1993: One timely timeout
Georgia thought it had tied the game (with a successful PAT) on Eric Zeier’s touchdown pass to Jerry Jarmon with five seconds left, but Florida freshman cornerback Anthone Lott signaled for a timeout just as Georgia was about to snap the ball. The officials granted Florida the timeout, much to Georgia’s chagrin, and on the next play, Lott was flagged for pass interference, setting up one final play. Zeier’s pass to Jeff Thomas fell incomplete, and Florida escaped with a 33-26 victory. Spurrier pointed to the heavens as he jogged across the muddy field afterward. That win propelled the Gators to the first of four straight SEC championships. Zeier was brilliant in the loss for the Dawgs in a game that was played in a steady rain.
1995: Half a hundred at Sanford Stadium
The games moved to the campuses in 1994 and 1995 because Jacksonville’s Municipal Stadium was being renovated. The Gators romped 52-14 in 1994 in Gainesville, Florida, and Spurrier was equally determined to pour it on the Dawgs in 1995 when the series shifted to Athens, Georgia. So much so that the Gators threw a deep touchdown pass with just over a minute remaining to put the finishing touches on a 52-17 rout. In vintage fashion, Spurrier chirped afterward that he wanted Florida to be the first team to ever score “half a hundred” at Sanford Stadium. As Spurrier left the field, a Georgia fan tossed a cup full of tobacco spit at him that just narrowly missed the Head Ball Coach. The only consolation for Georgia fans was that the Atlanta Braves beat the Cleveland Indians later that night at Fulton County Stadium to clinch the World Series.
2002: “Florida’s broken our hearts”
Munson’s famous call summed up what was another bitter loss for Georgia in the series, a 20-13 setback that cost the previously unbeaten Dawgs, ranked No. 5 at the time, a shot at the national championship. Ron Zook, in his first season after taking over for Spurrier, led the Gators to the improbable win that saw Rex Grossman throw a pair of touchdown passes and Georgia’s Terrence Edwards drop a wide-open pass with under three minutes to play that would have likely gone for a game-tying touchdown. It was Florida’s fifth straight win in the series and part of a stretch that saw Florida win 13 of 14 games from 1990 to 2003.
2007: Gator Stomp
The 2007 and 2008 games will forever be linked. Georgia’s 42-30 win over Florida in 2007 is best remembered for the Dawgs’ bench emptying after Knowshon Moreno scored early in the game and the Georgia players celebrated with an all-out stomp party in the end zone. Georgia coach Mark Richt, looking to pump some life into his team, told the players before the game that he wanted to see a penalty for excessive celebration after the first touchdown. What he didn’t know was that the whole team would end up in the end zone celebrating what would turn out to be only the third win for Georgia in the teams’ previous 18 meetings. Needless to say, Florida coach Urban Meyer was furious … and didn’t forget. That next season, Florida routed Georgia 49-10, and Meyer called two timeouts in the last 44 seconds of the game to marinate the beating. At the time, Meyer wouldn’t admit that’s what he was doing, but recently, as part of the SEC Network’s “Saturdays in the South” series, he acknowledged that’s exactly what he was doing: prolonging the agony to make the Dawgs squirm.
2012: Jones steals the show
A year after racking up four sacks in the win over Florida, Jarvis Jones served up an even better encore with a career-high 13 tackles, including three sacks, and a forced fumble that sealed Georgia’s 17-9 win. The junior outside linebacker jarred the ball loose from Florida tight end Jordan Reed near the goal line for a touchback as the Gators were driving in the final minutes. The Gators were unbeaten and ranked No. 2 in the BCS standings entering the game. Both teams finished 7-1 in the SEC, but the Dawgs earned the berth in the SEC championship game based on the head-to-head win over the Gators. Florida turned the ball over six times that day in what was a devastating loss for Will Muschamp in his second season as Florida’s coach. The Gators went on to lose to Louisville in the Sugar Bowl, suffered through a 4-8 season in 2013, and Muschamp was fired in 2014.