Leading up to this weekend's iteration of the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party we're taking a look back at some of the most memorable Georgia/Florida games in recent history. This evening's selection: the 1997 game.
First, a confession. I don't have a problem with the idea of Steve Spurrier in theory. In practice I'd just as soon he found his true calling as Ocala's wise-crackingest postal clerk. The guy is a brilliant football mind. I like that. He also knows how smart he is, and has a sly way of pointing it out. I dislike this intensely. He has a quick wit and masterful comic timing. I admire this. He has turned that wit on a series of Georgia football teams and coaches over the years, rubbing salt in a newly inflicted wound every year. I loathe that entirely.
I can count the number of times Georgia football got to deliver the Head Ball Coach a swift kick to the nads. But the ones I can count I cherish.
One such kick occurred in 1997. Spurrier entered the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party seeking his 100th victory as a head coach. His Gators entered the contest 6-1, 4-1 in the SEC. So too did Jim Donnan's Bulldogs, losers of seven in a row in Jacksonville.
Florida began the game a twenty point favorite. Hines Ward began it by returning the opening kickoff into Florida territory. Mike Bobo chipped in a 260 yard passing effort. Defensively, Kirby Smart grabbed two big interceptions, Champ Bailey contributed another, and Spurrier went through three quarterbacks looking for a spark that just never ignited.
Robert Edwards however was lit from the beginning. The big man from Sandersville was the star of the show, rushing for 127 yards and four touchdowns. None was more important than the 37 harder that put the game away with just under six minutes to play.
Georgia's 37-17 win was the only Bulldog victory during my college career. It was also the only Bulldog victory of Steve Spurrier's twelve year tenure on the Florida sideline. It was only one, but at least we got that old buzzard one time.
As is so often the case a win in Jacksonville was an integral part of a successful UGA season, as Georgia would notch the only ten win campaign of Jim Donnan's career and end the season with an Outback Bowl victory over Wisconsin and a #10 final ranking in both major polls.
By the way, SB Nation's Morgan Moriarty is collecting your wildest Cocktail Party stories for a post and totally not for blackmail purposes. Also, she's not a cop. I asked her and I'm pretty sure she has to tell me if she is. So if you've ever woken up in Jacksonville wearing Ray Goff's sweater vest and a smile feel free to share.