Epic Swings in the Florida-Georgia Rivalry

    Arguably one of the top rivalries in all of sports, the Florida-Georgia Rivalry has seen many historical and epic swings during its 100-game history.

    One of the top rivalry games in college football is played on Halloween Weekend, as the Florida Gators and Georgia Bulldogs square off. While the series numbers look close, the series has been marked by epic swings and decade-long dominance by each team.

    In anticipation of the 101st (or 102nd, depending on who you ask) meeting of the Florida-Georgia rivalry that was until recently deemed “The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party,” we’ll take a look at the epic swings this rivalry has experienced over the years.

    Florida-Florida Rivalry Early Years: When Bulldogs Got Ahead

    Georgia currently leads the series 55-44-2 — at least according to the Bulldogs’ records — and a big part of that has to do with the early years of the rivalry. While the teams don’t agree on when the first game was played, Georgia dominated in the early 1900s, nonetheless.

    MORE: Why Florida, Georgia Disagree on Win Totals in Series

    Georgia’s Early Dominance: The 1910s and 1920s

    The first game acknowledged by both teams was played in 1915. Georgia won that game 37-0, then shut out the Gators three more times in the next four years. Florida finally scored when the teams met again in 1926 — the beginning of a yearly rivalry game.

    Through 1927, the Bulldogs had won all six games by a combined score of 190-9.

    Florida battled back to win games in 1928 and 1929 under legendary coach Charlie Bachman. The first game nearly ended prematurely, as Gator fans rushed the field early and several fistfights broke out among players and supporters, cementing the rivalry as one of the bigger rivalries in the South.

    In 1930, the teams tied 0-0 in the first competitive game of the series. From there, it was all Georgia once again.

    Georgia’s Rise to Prominence: The 1930s and 1940s

    The Bulldogs won the next six games. Through 1936, Georgia led the series 12-2-1 (Or 13-2-1 if you ask the Bulldogs), outscoring the Gators 329-79. While Florida picked up the occasional win — like a 6-0 victory in 1937 or an 18-13 win in 1940 — the Bulldogs dominated the 1930s and 1940s.

    MORE: List of College Football Rivalry Games

    In those two decades, the Bulldogs went 15-3-1, stretching their overall series lead to 22-5-1. It’s worth noting that the teams didn’t play during the 1943 season due to World War II. During this time, Georgia rose to national prominence, winning three conference titles in the 1940s and claiming the 1942 national championship.

    Florida-Georgia Rivalry Middle Years: Momentum Swings Gators’ Direction

    Entering the 1960s, the Bulldogs led the series 22-5-1 with no end in sight. The Bulldogs squeaked out two more victories in 1950 and 1951 before things changed in 1952.

    Florida Shows Signs of Life: The 1950s and Early 1960s

    At the time, nothing pointed to 1952 being the year that the momentum would shift. Florida was just 3-2 when the teams met and decided to switch the positions of its starting quarterback and running back. The move paid off, as the Gator offense exploded in a 30-0 win.

    The Gators went on to win nine of the next 11 over the Bulldogs to pull the series record to 26-14-1.

    Back and Forth? The Late 1960s

    From 1963-1969, the series experienced its first (and only) stretch of true parity. The teams traded blows, winning every other year from 1963 to 1968. The two teams also punctuated the stretch with a 13-13 tie in 1969.

    They played several memorable games in those years, including upsets by each team over the other in years that looked promising for the favorite.

    Legendary HC Vince Dooley arrived at Georgia in 1964 but didn’t see immediate success against the Gators. That would wait until the next decade.

    Florida-Georgia Rivalry Later Years: Legendary Coach Years

    The Dooley Years: The 1970s and 1980s

    Dooley took a few years to establish dominance over the Gators, but when he did, the Bulldogs took complete control. From 1971-1986, the Gators won just three times, losing nine times as a ranked team, often to lower-ranked Georgia teams.

    MORE: Florida-Georgia Annual Results

    It was during this time that the Bulldogs won a national championship in 1980 and had RB Hershel Walker win the Heisman Trophy in 1982. It wasn’t until Florida hired a legendary former QB as head coach that the tide would once again shift.

    The Fun n’ Gun: The 1990s

    The minute Steve Spurrier arrived in Gainesville as head coach, the rivalry changed. What had typically been a low-scoring field position game turned into a shootout every year.

    Spurrier’s Florida teams thoroughly battered the Bulldogs from the day he stepped on campus, setting the school record with a 31-point win over Georgia in 1990 and then breaking the margin-of-victory record with a 32-point win in 1991.

    During Spurrier’s 12 years as head coach for UF, the Gators won 11 games — six by 30-plus points. When Spurrier left to go to the NFL, though, the dominance continued.

    The Meyer Years: The 2000s

    Rarely do teams have multiple legendary head coaches in the span of a few years, but the Gators are one of them. The Gators actually went 2-1 in the Ron Zook years where little else went well, then Urban Meyer began his dynasty.

    Meyer’s Gators lost to Georgia just once from 2005-2010 and won two national titles. From 1990 to 2010, the Gators went an incredible 18-3 against the Bulldogs to put the series record at its closest point since the 1920s.

    Florida-Georgia Rivalry Recent Years: A New Era

    Parity: The early 2010s

    Urban Meyer left in 2011, giving Georgia its first chance in two decades to turn the tide. The Bulldogs won three straight under Mark Richt before losing three straight from 2014-2016. Neither team seemed to have complete control.

    Back to the Bulldogs: The mid-2010s to Now

    Kirby Smart was hired in 2016 and lost his debut against the Gators, 24-10. Since then, it’s been all Bulldogs, aside from a blip in 2020. This was actually the last time the Bulldogs lost a regular season game.

    MORE: When is the Last Time Georgia Lost a Game?

    The Bulldogs have looked nearly unstoppable for two years. If the program continues its dominance, it looks like the Bulldogs could have a dominant decade ahead of them.

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