It honestly couldn't have happened to a nicer guy. - Sam Greenwood
How big a deal was the Georgia Bulldogs' 17-9 win over the Florida Gators in Saturday's edition of the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party? It's difficult to overestimate the significance of the victory.
How do I love this victory? Let me count the ways:
- It absolutely ends all that “18-4” nonsense. It should go without saying to any sentient being (admittedly, a category that may not include every on-air commentator for ESPN) that what happened in the 1990s between Ray Goff and Steve Spurrier has no bearing on what 18- to 22-year-olds do today, but now even the Worldwide Leader and the Gator faithful will have to concede that the team that has won four of the last nine, three of the last six, and both of the last two series meetings is not fairly to be confused with the team that lost 13 of 14 between 1990 and 2003. The worm has turned, the pendulum has swung, and anyone who considers the current South Carolina head coach’s achievements from more than a decade ago of present-day relevance needs to quit accusing Georgia fans of living in past.
- The Bulldogs rose up in the midst of adversity to tally six turnovers, hold the Gators to 2.0 yards per rush attempt, limit Mike Gillislee to 77 yards on 22 carries, keep Jeff Driskel in negative yardage, and prevent Florida from crossing the goal line. Todd Gurley rushed for 118 yards and a touchdown, in addition to catching two passes for 23 more. Bacarri Rambo and Damian Swann offset Aaron Murray’s three interceptions with a pair of picks. That, my friends, is how we used to do it in Vince’s and Erk’s day. Old man football, indeed.
- The streak of futility against top-ranked teams has been ended, emphatically. Mark Richt can still win a big game. As a matter of fact, Georgia never trailed in this contest, so the ‘Dawgs won this one from the get-go every bit as much so as they lost the South Carolina game from the outset. Three coaches in the SEC East are on the hot seat, and Mark Richt isn’t on the list; Derek Dooley, Joker Phillips, and Will Muschamp are. Yes, that’s right; I put Will Muschamp on the hot seat. Yes, I know Larry will be back in Gainesville next fall, but can you imagine the pressure he will be under to win this game next year? Can you imagine the calls for his head from Florida fans if he drops three straight to his alma mater? Isn’t it nice to know that, for the first time in more than two decades, the psychology of this series now solidly favors the Red and Black?
- The SEC East is now Georgia’s for the taking. I’m not counting my chickens before they’ve hatched, but, at this juncture, you have to like the Bulldogs’ chances of making a second straight trip to the SEC Championship Game. If the Athenians make it all the way to Atlanta, I trust that will silence the critics who noted that the ‘Dawgs didn’t play Alabama or LSU, since, after all, one of those two teams will be waiting for the Red and Black in the Georgia Dome.
- When Todd Grantham’s defense is challenged, it responds phenomenally. Sheldon Richardson insulted the Georgia D, and the Bulldogs played impressively against Missouri. James Franklin was a jerk after last year’s Vanderbilt game, and our guys took the Commodores to the woodshed in this year’s meeting. Shawn Williams correctly stated that the ‘Dawgs were playing soft, and they manned up against the Gators. Accordingly, I’d like to take this opportunity to say that Ole Miss, Auburn, Georgia Southern, and Georgia Tech all say our defense sucks. You gonna take that, huh?
- The last time the Bulldogs took back-to-back series meetings from Florida, I was an upperclassman nearing the end of my undergraduate career at the University of Georgia. It has been 15 years since I finished law school. It has been a long time since we had occasion to attend consecutive Cocktail Parties at which we drank to celebrate rather than to drown our sorrows. Enjoy this one, folks. We earned it.
If the foregoing seemed a little wordy to you, I understand. Here’s the “TL;DR” version: There ain’t nothing like being a Bulldog on Saturday night after beating Florida.