Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that this is the week of what much of the Dawg Sports staff considers the most important football game of the Bulldogs' fall slate. I'm among them. As I've said on more than one occasion, I grew up south of the gnat line and came of age as a football fan in the 1990's. These twin coincidences of geography and time combine to make me despise the Florida Gators more than any other rival.
That's why as this week has gone on I have found myself getting more and more excited for this contest in spite of myself. After back-to-back soul crushing defeats I didn't think I'd be able to dare to even hope.
But as I look more closely at the match ups, I come to realize that the only team more downtrodden in the SEC than the Georgia Bulldogs may be the Florida Gators. Georgia will get All-SEC tailback Todd Gurley back in the line up, allegedly at 100%. Florida on the other hand will hand the starting nod to talented freshman Kelvin Taylor. Georgia is still struggling to get a consistent push on the offensive line. Florida will be without starting left tackle D.J. Humphries and will be shuffling the rotation, including the first career start for former Bulldog commit Trenton Brown at right tackle.
And ask yourself this: if you had to pin your hopes on a quarterback to lead your team to victory in Jacksonville in front of a raucous and spirit-soaked crowd, who would rather be leaning on? Aaron Murray or a sore shouldered Tyler Murphy. I know the answer to that question. It's Murray, hands down.
I may come to regret this, but I think the combination of a healthy Todd Gurley and an experienced Aaron Murray makes the difference here. Sure I'm worried about the loss of Chris Conley, and I'm not absolutely certain that Michael Bennett won't be shaking off some rust. But I truly believe that the Classic City Canines are the better of two not particularly good teams at this point.
It's been almost 25 years since the Bulldogs won three in a row in Jacksonville. But there's a real chance that we do it again this week. Traditionally a victory along the banks of the St. Johns has been a springboard to greater things. That may or may not be the case this season, as the 'Dawgs have long since been effectively eliminated from the national title picture, and cling to only the slimmest of hopes of returning to Atlanta this December.
That stinks. But nothing smells sweeter than victory over the Gators.And a third straight victory over the Gators, and the abject misery and saurian backbiting sure to result would go a long way toward salving the wounds of the past few weeks, and turning this into one of those seasons about which we shake our heads over what might have been rather than utterly refusing to speak of. There's a big difference in the long term.
So while you're getting ready for Saturday's contest, and for sure afterwards if the good guys prevail, I urge you to enjoy a Gator Hater:
Mix 2 ounces of rye whiskey, 1/2 ounce of cointreau, a tablespoon of orange juice, and a dash of orange bitters in a cocktail shaker over ice, then strain into a cocktail glass filled with crushed ice. Top it off with soda water, and enjoy. Don't worry about the proliferation of orange ingredients. The finished product won't be anything close to the garish hue worn by that team from north Florida. They ain't even getting that break this weekend. Until later . . .