This Saturday Georgia and Florida will kick off their 90th consecutive contest in Jacksonville dating back to 1933. In that time the schools have created a lot of memories, but which are the five most historically significant moments in the series? It’s a tough task to cut through nine decades of pandemonium, but we decided to give it our best shot.
1941: “Too Much Sinkwich.” Georgia’ entered the 1941 contest at 4-1-1 but ailing. All-American halfback Frank Sinkwich had broken his jaw earlier in the season against Alabama, but that didn’t keep him off the field. Wearing a custom-made chinstrap on his helmet, Sinkwich rushed 31 times for 142 yards and two touchdowns and kicked a field goal as well in the Bulldogs’ 19–3 victory over the Gators. Afterward Florida coach Tom Lieb, when asked what led to his team’s downfall simply said “Too much Sinkwich.” Lieb’s squad would go on to lose the most lopsided matchup in series history the next season, a 75-0 UGA win as part of the Bulldogs’ 1942 national championship season. Sinkwich would be rewarded with the Heisman Trophy, making him the first player from a school in the Deep South to win the award.
1966: Darth Visor emerges. It’s as close to a villain origin story as you’ll find in college football. The Gators entered the 1966 Cocktail Party with a 7–0 record, ranked #7 nationally and looking to clinch a share of their first ever SEC title. Senior quarterback Steven Orr Spurrier had burnished his Heisman Trophy resume the prior week with a stellar effort in a 30-27 win over Auburn.
Floridians came to Jacksonville with dreams of league and even national titles. They left with their alligator tails between their legs.
A scrappy Bulldog defense battered Spurrier, who threw three interceptions in a stunning 27-10 Bulldog victory. All-American defensive tackle Bill Stanfill would famously remark “holding pigs for my dad to castrate was quite a challenge. I can’t say that helped prepare me for football, but it sure did remind me an awful lot of sacking Steve Spurrier.”
The Ole Ball Coach would nurture his grudge against the Red and Black for decades, repeatedly admitting that the annual rivalry was the most important game of the year in his mind. Spurrier would turn that rage into an 11-1 record against Georgia when he returned as head coach of the Gators in 1990. I’m not saying the guy would have taken it easy on us otherwise. But it’s safe to say his memories of being hog-tied by Stanfill and friends didn’t help.
1976: “4th and Dumb.” The Bicentennial version of the Florida Gators were 6–1 and ranked #10 coming into Jacksonville, and once again looking to secure their first SEC football championship. Florida held a 27–13 lead at the half and seemed to have things under control until the ‘Dawgs scored early in the third quarter to cut the lead to 27–20. Faced with 4th and 1 at the Gators’ own 29-yard-line, Gator coach Doug Dickey inexplicably decided to go for the first down rather than punt. Florida tailback Earl Carr was stopped short by Bulldog safety Johnny Henderson, and the Athenians never again relinquished the momentum. Kevin McLee led the potent UGA rushing attack with 198 yards rushing as the Dawgs scored 21 unanswered points on the way to a 41–27 win. After the game, Dickey admitted that “We were not outplayed; we were outcoached. I made some dumb calls.” Dickey never lived down the episode, which would come to be known as “4th and dumb.” It remains emblematic of the utter haplessness of Florida football for the first 86 or so years of its existence, especially in Jacksonville.
“Fourth and Dumb”— Patrick Garbin (@patrickgarbin) October 26, 2023
In 1976, with Florida leading #UGA, 27-20, midway through the third quarter, the Gators go for it on 4th down from their own 29-yard line.
Following the fourth-down stop, the Bulldogs score three unanswered touchdowns en route to a 41-27 win. @ugasportscom pic.twitter.com/OaJSn6VDgA
1980: Lindsay Scott! Lindsay Scott! Lindsay Scott!!!! It feels a little silly recounting this episode because everyone who dares call themselves a Bulldog fan already knows it by heart. Nevertheless, get the picture:
With less than a minute left in the fourth quarter the #2 ranked Bulldogs trailed the underdog Gators 21-20, and were facing a daunting 3rd and 7 from inside their own 10 yard line. Charley Pell’s team appeared ticketed to ruin their bitter rival’s storybook season.
That is until Bulldog quarterback Buck Belue dropped back to pass and was forced to scramble around in his own endzone to avoid the Gator rush before finding wide receiver Lindsay Scott open in the middle of the field near the Bulldog 25 yard line. Scott caught the pass facing the line of scrimmage, turned and blazed a preternatural path through Florida’s secondary, outrunning everyone in orange and blue down the sideline to score the game-winning touchdown as an increasingly unhinged Larry Munson recounted the improbable turn of events.
Georgia would of course go on to defeat Notre Dame to win the 1980 national title. The call reigns supreme as Munson’s most famous, and arguably among the ten or so most famous radio calls in American sports history. Charley Pell would be forced out after the 1983 season, having notched an 0-5 record against the Bulldogs.
1997: “They just beat us.” Jim Donnan’s Bulldogs came to Jacksonville 6-1 and ranked #14 in the nation to take on the 6-1 and 6th ranked Gators as a 20.5 point underdog. What followed was an improbable rout for the ages. The Bulldog defense coordinated by Joe Kines stymied a series of Gator quarterbacks and Robert Edwards rushed for 124 yards and a series record 4 touchdowns to secure the 37-17 victory.
The always wily Donnan was especially tricky on this day, moving versatile Hines Ward from receiver to quarterback to tailback and back again, and UGA quarterback Mike Bobo finished a tidy 16 of 27 passing for 260 yards. Defensively, the effort was keyed by junior safety Kirby Smart, who picked off two Gator passes, including one of the weirdest tip drills you’ll ever see.
#TBT to the 1997 Georgia-Florida game when current @georgiafootball coach Kirby Smart (BBA '98) came through with two interceptions to help the Dawgs upset the Gators 37-17. #AlwaysADawg pic.twitter.com/B6le9hhMav— UGA Alumni (@ugaalumniassoc) October 28, 2021
The Bulldogs would finish the year 10-2 with an Outback Bowl victory over the Wisconsin Badgers. While the result didn’t appear historically significant at the time, the nucleus of the Bulldog program of today was largely forged by that group which broke a seven year losing streak to the Gators, handing Steve Spurrier his first coaching loss to the ‘Dawgs.
Spurrier, who entered the game looking for his 100th career coaching victory, summed it up afterward. “The Georgia Bulldogs were a better team than the Florida Gators in this game and they proved it,” the Head Ball Coach noted glumly. “Georgia beat us in every aspect. The Bulldogs outcoached us and outplayed us. Florida has no excuses; Georgia is better than the Gators. They just beat us.”