Here we go again! Some of us are ready on Saturday to pack the car and cross the state line for another edition of Georgia-Florida in Jacksonville.
This season, both the Bulldogs and Gators have been on a similar path in terms of how the season has played out. Georgia head coach Mark Richt even pointed out those similarities on Tuesday during his weekly press conference.
“Both teams are a lot alike this year,” Richt said. “Both teams are 4-3 and both of us have two losses in league play. Both of us lost a game out of conference and then lost the last two games.”
Richt also continued on to point out that both teams have also been attacked by the injury bug. Florida for example, has lost two major contributors in quarterback Jeff Driskel and defensive tackle Dominique Easley. While Georgia has to play the rest of the season without standout wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell and running back Keith Marshall.
Even with this game featuring teams with similar circumstances. It doesn’t mean that animosity between the two sides is not hanging over this matchup. Truth of the matter is that both sides dislike each other very much. Mark Richt doesn’t mince words, when talking about how his players should view the Gators.
“Our guys are excited about playing Florida,” Richt said. “If you can’t get excited about playing Florida in that venue, you shouldn’t be a Bulldog. Period.”
One player that gets it now, is tight end Arthur Lynch. Unlike most of the players in this rivalry, Lynch did not grow up in either state. Instead, he grew up in Massachusetts and got to know this rivalry pretty quickly once he got to college.
“I visited Florida, the day before I visited Georgia and we have all things that denounce the Gators and they have all things that denounce Georgia,” Lynch said. “That’s just how it is. It’s kind of the unwritten rule in the SEC that Florida and Georgia hate each other.”
Going back to Lynch’s upbringing in Massachusetts, his shirt and hat choice on Tuesday would let you know where he’s from and what team he’s rooting for in this year’s World Series between the Red Sox and Cardinals. So with that being the case, I asked Lynch who he hates more. Florida or the Yankees?
“I was torched as a little kid by the Yankees,” Lynch said. “I’ve also been tortured the Gators my first two years. I think it depends on who’s playing, so I guess if the ‘Sox are on then I gotta hate the Yankees.”
There’s plenty of motivation for the Dawgs in this game, as there is every year. With South Carolina doing them a favor and beating Missouri on Saturday, Georgia is still alive to win the SEC East. Also, if Georgia wins on Saturday, they will have beaten the Gators three straight times for the first time since 1987-89.
Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray has been around plenty of these games and says he’s thinking more about winning to get back to the SEC Championship game, than making series history.
“Both teams are now in the same position now, feeling like they still have a chance to make it back there (Atlanta),” Murray said. “This is a big game for us, to make sure we’re staying on track and giving ourselves a shot.”
That being said, Bulldogs defensive lineman Garrison Smith says he’d like to make some history and join those teams of the late 1980’s.
“This rivalry is so important and it means so much to so many people,” Smith said. “To be able to be a part of those winning teams would definitely be big and I would like to leave that with my legacy of being here as a senior.”
Smith also added on Tuesday that he doesn’t hate Florida, instead he’s got a certain amount of respect for his opponent.
“Even when Florida’s (DT) Dominique Easley got injured, I said a prayer for him,” Smith said. “That’s the type of guy I am, it’s bigger than football.”
Garrison did add that he has been watching and now playing in this rivalry for a long time as a Georgia fan and says that he’s lived the ups and downs of this rivalry as well.
So all total, both sides are not huge fans of each other and if anything this story should tell you. The names might change, but the rivalry remains the same every year in Jacksonville.