Florida football: Florida-Georgia to meet as Top-10 foes for only 7th time in series history

30 Oct 1999: Bo Carroll #2 of the Florida Gators carries the ball during a game against the Georgia Bulldogs at the Alltell Stadium in Jacksonville, Florida. The Gators defeated the Bulldogs 30-14. Mandatory Credit: Andy Lyons /Allsport
30 Oct 1999: Bo Carroll #2 of the Florida Gators carries the ball during a game against the Georgia Bulldogs at the Alltell Stadium in Jacksonville, Florida. The Gators defeated the Bulldogs 30-14. Mandatory Credit: Andy Lyons /Allsport /

Florida football first played Georgia in 1915 (the Bulldogs claim 1904 as a win, but the Gators didn’t field a team until 1906), but Saturday will mark only the seventh time in series history that the two schools have met as Top-10 opponents.

For as much success as there has been between Florida football and Georgia, it has been a rare occurrence for both programs to shine so brightly in the same year.

Sure, there have been plenty of ranked matchups and memorable games, but the nature of this rivalry has typically featured one team dominating for a stretch.

In comparison, Ohio State and Michigan have both been ranked in the Top-10 in four meetings since 2003 and 22 times overall in a rivalry between two powerhouse programs that fits along a similar timeline as the Florida-Georgia game.

Even though it covers a much shorter timeline, Florida and in-state rival, Florida State, have met 14 times with both sides ranked in the Top-10. Each meeting has occurred since 1990 and only one has occurred since 2000 (2012).

Think about it in the following context and you may be less surprised that two schools with solid gridiron reputations have only played against each other as Top-10 foes six times in their 96 game history.

If you breakdown the Florida-Georgia series by decade, there have only been three decades in which the victor doesn’t hold at least a three-game advantage in that decade.

This perfectly illustrates how one side tends to dominate for a stretch.

Before this decade, you have to go back to the 1950s to find a decade in which the series did not swing by at least three games toward one school.

Here’s the series record by decade:

*2010-18 – UGA 5-4
2000-09 – UF 8-2
1990-99 – UF 9-1
1980-89 – UGA 8-2
1970-79 – UGA 7-3
1960-69 – UF 6-3-1
*1950-59 – UF 6-4
1940-49 – UGA 7-2 (*1943 WWII DNP)
1930-39 – UGA 8-1-1
*1920-29 – UGA 3-2
1910-19 – UGA 3-0

Let’s take a look at the previous six Top-10 Florida-Georgia clashes.


1976 – LOST
#7 Georgia 41
#10 Florida 27
Top-10 meeting record: Georgia 1-0

For the first time in the history of Florida-Georgia, both schools entered the game ranked in the Top-10.

Florida had never won a conference title, but the Gators sat at 6-1 coming into this one. Georgia was 7-1 and entered the game as a three-point favorite.

The Bulldogs opened the game with a 10 play, 75-yard drive to go up 7-0 early. Florida responded and tied the game 7-7 and the Gators would go on to control the game in the first half, taking a 27-13 lead into the locker room.

Georgia QB Ray Goff led a 7-play, 81-yard touchdown drive to bring the Bulldogs back within one score.

With the Gators leading 27-20 with 7:52 in the third quarter, Florida head coach Doug Dickey decided to gamble and go for a “4th and 18 inches” on the Florida 29-yard line. A running play was stuffed and six plays later, Georgia would ride the momentum to a touchdown and, eventually, a 41-27 win.

The game would go on to be known as, “Fourth and Dumb,” in Florida football lore.


1983 – LOST
#4 Georgia 10
#9 Florida 9
Top-10 meeting record: Georgia 2-0

Gators fans, this one is not for the faint of heart. Proceed with caution.

Florida head coach Charley Pell had rebuilt the Gators into contenders and Georgia still in the midst of the heights of the Vince Dooley era.

Georgia RB Herschel Walker was gone, but the Bulldogs still entered the game 7-0-1.

Florida entered the game 6-1-1. The Gators kicked off the year by knocking off eventual national champion, Miami, 28-3, but had suffered the first setback of 1983 the week before on the road against RB Bo Jackson and #4 Auburn.

Florida held a 9-3 into the fourth quarter against the Bulldogs, but UF did not fully take advantage of opportunities on the day. The Gators put up only nine points despite making six trips inside of the Georgia 25-yard with the most devastating blow coming on a fourth-quarter Florida QB Wayne Peace interception.

Georgia DB Daryl Jones made the pick but stepped out of bounds at the Georgia 1-yard line. The Bulldogs then proceeded to march 99 yards for a touchdown and the win.

Florida dominated the stat sheet, but Georgia won the game. Tough loss for the Gators.


1984 – WON
#10 Florida 27
#8 Georgia 0
Top-10 meeting record: Georgia 2-1

Florida football head coach Charley Pell was fired three games into the season, but a talented roster helped carry interim head coach Galen Hall to a 6-1-1 record leading into the Georgia game.

WR Ricky Nattiel caught a bomb from QB Kerwin Bell and took it 96.5 yards for a touchdown.

The Gators had the threat of pending NCAA sanctions looming over the program due to the Pell scandals, but today was the day Florida exercised its’ demons over Georgia with a shutout victory.

"The “Gainesville Raiders,” [a comparison the the L.A. Raiders, known for being the bad guys in the NFL] the best college football team the bowls may never see, won what was, perhaps, the biggest game in University of Florida history today. It was an incredibly easy 27-0 ending to a streak of six bitter defeats at the hands of the Georgia Bulldogs.But 10th-ranked teams have beaten eighth-ranked teams before. What makes this so different was what it means to the Gators, now 7-1-1, and 6-0 under interim coach Galen Hall. For starters, the victory gives them a 4-0-1 record in the Southeastern Conference, their best record ever, tying LSU for the league lead. In the SEC’s 52 years, Florida has never won a football title. Georgia is 7-2, 4-1 in the SEC.However, even if the Gators, the team adversity created, beat Kentucky next Saturday, they may not become conference champions or get to go to the Sugar Bowl.-Christine Brennan, Washington Post (November 11, 1984)"

The win over Georgia catapulted the Gators to their first-ever SEC Championship.

In May of 1985, the SEC universities voted 6-4 to vacate the Gators’ 1984 SEC title and declared the school ineligible for league titles in 1985 and 1986.

As the walls of The Swamp used to read, “1984 – ‘First in the SEC.'”


1999 – WON
#5 Florida 30
#10 Georgia 14
Top-10 meeting record: Tied 2-2

Georgia (6-1, 4-1) entered the game with a lone loss against Tennessee and the Gators (6-1, 4-1) had dropped a one-point game to RB Shaun Alexander and the Tide Gainesville at the beginning of October.

The Bulldogs stuck around early, but the Gators pitched a second-half shutout.

Florida’s dominant defense, led by DE Alex Brown, sacked Bulldogs QB Quincy Carter three times on the afternoon and held the future NFL quarterback to 76-yards passing on the afternoon.


2008 – WON
#5 Florida 49
#8 Georgia 10
Top-10 meeting record: Florida 3-2

A year after some Bulldog nonsense in the end zone, Meyer, Tebow, and the Gators avenged their 2007 defeat en route to a national title.

UGA rolled into 2008 with a preseason #1 ranking thanks to the return of QB Matthew Stafford and RB Knowshon Moreno. Georgia looked set to live up to those lofty preseason expectations early on until a fella by the name of Saban told Alabama to hang 41 on the Dawgs during a late September visit between the hedges.

Expectations were also high for the Gators heading into 2008, but the heightened significance of the ’08 Georgia was built by not just the loss ’07, but by the Bulldogs’ garbage celebration stunt.

It was personal.

It took until my junior year in 2007 at the University of Florida to fully realize the intensity of the Florida-Georgia game.

I understood the uniqueness of the neutral site, I understood it was a historic matchup and a meaningful SEC East game, and I understood that Florida was once the team who had their seasons ruined by Georgia on a regular basis, but in my lifetime, Steve Spurrier had corrected that issue.

Georgia was Florida’s annual punching bag.

They were overrated and overhyped by the media coming into the game on a regular basis. Even when Florida was down during the Zook years, one thing that did not fade was the ability to beat Georgia.

But, in 2007, my perspective shifted.

Mark Richt instructed the entire Bulldogs bench to storm the end zone after the first touchdown and, at first, my reaction from the stands was pure shock.

What added to the shock factor was the 75-year old woman in front of me.

She was rocking a Georgia Bulldogs version of one of those Christmas sweaters your mom owns with a different picture in each of the four quadrants and, on top of watching Georgia storm the field and take a dump on decency, this lady swung around, busted out a cowbell, and celebrated at the top of her lungs while going to town on that cowbell.

Lots of flailing arm action.

Objectively, this was a funny moment all around, so I just laughed.

My initial thought was, “Good for Georgia! I’m glad they get to enjoy at least one moment today. They may have scored on their first drive, but there’s almost no chance they’re going to keep up with Tebow and the offense. Florida is clutch against Georgia and the Dawgs have no shot.”

I was wrong…and by the third quarter, several Georgia touchdown celebrations later, I was in full-on Kirk Cousins mode with the cowbell lady every time the Gators scored, “YOU LIKE THAT! Where’s your cowbell now?”

On this day in 2007, Stafford, Moreno, and the cowbell lady got the better of the Gators and my Orange and Blue covered disdain of everything Georgia was born.

If you have a problem with a college kid and a 75-year old woman taunting each other, then I would argue that you, much like pre-2007 Florida-Georgia me, do not fully understand what the Florida-Georgia game is all about.

Looking back on it, I’m grateful to the cowbell lady for helping me realize the full depth of the Florida-Georgia rivalry, but I’m more grateful for Meyer and Tebow fully exacting revenge on Georgia in 2008.


2018 – LOST
#7 Georgia 36
#9 Florida 17
Top-10 meeting record: Tied 3-3

A year after the McElwain saga come to its sad end, the Gators fell behind 10-0 early. Unlike 2017, Florida bounced back and showed some heart.

Down 13-7 at the half, WR Kadarius Toney returned the second-half kickoff to the Georgia 48-yard line. Three plays later, QB Feleipe Franks threw one of his best passes as a Gator over-the-top to a streaking WR Freddie Swain and the Gators took a 14-13 lead.

The 2018 Gators had progressed and Florida head coach Dan Mullen sent a message to Georgia head coach Kirby Smart in year one. Florida was not as far behind Georgia as some had originally thought.

Georgia would go on to shut down the Gators offense for the rest of the second half, allowing only a field goal and Florida was outscored 23-10 in the second half.

The Bulldogs ran a balanced attack on the day. RB D’Andre Swift posted 104 yards and a touchdown on only 12 carries and QB Jake Fromm passed for 240 yards and three touchdowns.

Florida turned the ball over three times, did not create a turnover in return, and could manage only 105 yards passing on the day.

Between this year’s significantly improved passing attack and an opportunistic defense, the Gators should present a much different challenge to the Bulldogs in 2019.

Who's up and who's down ahead of Georgia clash. dark. Next

Florida will take it to Georgia on Saturday at 3:30 PM ET on CBS.