On October 28th, the undefeated No. 1 Georgia Bulldogs will head to Jacksonville to take on the 5-2 Florida Gators in what used to be known as the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party, but is now known simply as the “Georgia-Florida” rivalry or the “War for the Oar.”
TALE OF THE TAPE
Series Began: Depends on which fanbase you ask. If it’s Georgia, they’ll say it started in 1904, but Florida fans say the series didn’t begin until 1915.
Series History: According to Georgia, the series sits at 55-44-2, but Florida says it’s a little closer at 54-44-2.
Recent History: Georgia has won five of the past six meetings.
Winningest Coaches in the Series: Vince Dooley is the winningest coach, compiling 16 wins from 1964 through 1988 as head coach of the Bulldogs, while Steve Spurrier went 11-1 as Florida’s head coach from 1990 through 2001.
Largest Victory: Georgia claims this title after earning a 75-0 win against the Gators back in 1942.
BAD BLOOD BEGINS
This gridiron confrontation has a start date that is a point of contention between the two fan bases. You see, when Georgia first met the “University of Florida” in 1904, it wasn’t the UF we know today but rather one of it’s predecessors based in Lake City that is about 45 miles to the north. The college was actually called the Florida Agricultural and Mechanical College at the time and the Bulldogs won that contest 52-0 n Macon, Ga.
Florida fans don’t count this game as part of the series because they argue that the actual University of Florida wasn’t established until 1905 and didn’t field it’s first team until 1906. Georgia fans like to point out that they can’t control where the University of Florida was located and so they count the 1904 matchup as a victory.
One thing they can agree on is that the first true University of Florida vs. University of Georgia football game was in 1915 and has been played every year since 1926 (except for 1943 when Florida did not field a team due to World War II).
The Florida-Georgia game hasn’t always been played in Jacksonville, but has usually been played at a neutral site thanks to the limited capacity of Florida’s first stadium, Fleming Field.
With a capacity of just 5,000 people, it was far too small to hold games against big name college teams. To manage their big time football games, they had to find other facilities. So for six of the first nine meetings, the two teams met in various locations including: Jacksonville, Fla., Savannah, Ga., and Tampa, Fla.
Eventually the schools needed to find a more permanent place to play and due to the proximity of Jacksonville to the Georgia-Florida line, as well as the ease at which railroads could carry fans of both schools to the city, that’s where they decided to play.
Eventually, due to the economic impact the game had on the city, it began to pay for the teams’ travel expenses and provide a hefty financial reward to both teams to ensure that the location would remain the same, despite calls to make it a home-and-home series.
In fact, the amount of tailgating in and around the stadium led the press to term the game the “World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.” Although each school has since come to shun the phrase in an effort to discourage excessive drinking.
FLORIDA’S FIRST WIN
In 1928, the Gators entered the Georgia matchup having lost all five (or six) matchups by a combined score of 184-9 (or 236-9 if you’re a Georgia fan). But that all ended on November 10 in Savannah, GA., when Charley Bachman’s Gators finally won 26-6.
Gator fans were so ecstatic they didn’t even wait for the game to end to celebrate. Midway through the 4th quarter, they rushed the field and attempted to tear down the goal posts. Georgia fans wouldn’t allow that and rushed on to the field after them, resulting in fist fights breaking out on the field with the police unable to restore order. It seems as though Georgia fans, not seeing the normal beatdown on the field, were determined to get one one way or another.
The 1993 version of the rivalry wouldn’t be remembered for the mud and the rain that accompanied the game, but rather the timeout taken by Florida player Anthone Lott just before Georgia quarterback Eric Zeier threw the game tying touchdown.
Georgia would get two more tries to find the end zone but would be unable to score in the Gators’ 33-26 win. Those Gators went on to be 11-2 and win both the SEC and Sugar Bowl.
In 2007, the Georgia Bulldogs entered the rivalry game having lost 15 of the last 17 meetings with the Gators. Head coach Mark Richt wanted to infuse some life into his team in hopes of motivating them towards a victory and instructed the team to get an excessive celebration penalty after scoring their first touchdown. While Richt only meant for it to be the 11 players on the field, it ended up being the entire team in a comical moment that became known as the “Gator Stomp.”
The Bulldogs went on to win that game 42-30 on their way to an 11-2 season and Sugar Bowl victory.
Date: Saturday, Oct. 28, 2023
Site: Everbank Stadium – Jacksonville, FL
Time: 3:30pm ET
Will Florida put an end to Georgia’s streak of 19 straight weeks at No. 1?