It comes down to perception. Numbers tell the story of a
rivalry, emotion shows the way.
Never have two decades so alike felt so different in the
storied history of the Florida-Georgia game.
The Georgia Bulldogs won eight of 10 games in the 1980s,
dominating the series like never before. The Florida Gators have
since won seven in a row in the 1990s, and need one more win to
set the series record for consecutive victories.
Two decades, two distinctly different emotional ties. The 1980s
fed the bitter, passionate rivalry. The 1990s fueled
"It used to be where Florida people took great pride in winning
and talking about it -- like Georgia used to [in the 1980s],"
said former Georgia quarterback Buck Belue, a key player in some
of the series' biggest games in the early 1980s. "It's not close
to that anymore. Florida people have grown to accept they're
going to win."
More than anything, that makes the weird emotional void between
the decades harder to understand. There never used to be a
bigger game on either schedule. Lately, it's simply another
Southeastern Conference game.
"It's too predictable now," said Georgia Athletic Director
Vince Dooley, who had a 17-7-1 record vs. Florida as coach of
the Bulldogs from 1964-88. "Even some of the times when we were
good enough to have won by a good margin, for the most part, all
of those games were games that somehow would go down to the
That, Dooley says, is what the rivalry needs again. That would
also mean a switch to the days of the 1980s -- when the rivalry
was hotter than ever and the games were some of the best in
"I can assure you this is still a very big game for the
Gators," said Florida coach Steve Spurrier. "It's a very big
Still, no stretch of games defines the rivalry more than the
first six games of the 1980s. Although five were won by Georgia,
all were emotionally draining games that had a profound impact
on each program.
Georgia won 26-21 in 1980, a game that included the most
dramatic play in series history. Lindsay Scott's 93-yard catch
and run on a pass from Belue gave the Bulldogs the last-minute
victory, and buoyed their national-championship run.
That nationally televised game also introduced Georgia tailback
Herschel Walker -- a future Heisman Trophy winner and one of the
best players in college history -- to the nation. In three years
against Florida, he rushed for 649 yards and scored eight
touchdowns, and was as much an emotional obstacle as a physical
In 1981, his leaping 1-yard touchdown run capped Georgia's
fourth-quarter comeback and gave the 'Dogs another 26-21 win. He
rushed for 192 yards on 47 carries and scored twice, and caught
four passes for 55 yards and two more touchdowns.
A year later, with Florida coming off program-setting wins over
Miami and Southern California, Walker had 219 yards and three
touchdowns on 35 carries in a 44-0 win.
"They [Florida] had us beat in 1980, and then there was the
Lindsay Scott play," Walker said. "All of a sudden, he's taking
off down the left side, nobody can catch him and we go on to win
the national championship. I had good games against [Florida]
the next two years, but I don't see how anything could outshine
that first one."
Ironically, the next three games were as big in series lore.
Georgia's 99-yard fourth-quarter drive gave it a 10-9 win in …