In promoting my new book, I was interviewed yesterday and asked a series of Outdoor Cocktail Party-related questions, including when was the last time Georgia had defeated Florida in back-to-back football seasons: 1989, or 23 years ago... 23 long years ago, was my response.
Yes, it's hard to believe, but the Bulldogs haven't beaten the Gators in consecutive years since the days of Paul Simon's You Can Call Me Al, the SEC was televised on TBS, and the ladies sported teased and permed hairdos, men had mullets, and both genders donned jean shorts. Well, Gator Nation might still look and dress the same as back then, but as evident in the video, 1989 was indeed a long, long time ago...
Georgia's 17-10 victory in 1989 over Florida, who entered as a slight favorite and ranked 20th in the nation, was somewhat of a historic moment in the annals of Bulldog football for a number of reasons. Not only was the win one of head coach Ray Goff's few resulting against the ranked, or as an underdog, but the victory was the last by Georgia which ended its long-standing dominance in the rivalry.
The Bulldogs' win in the '89 Cocktail Party was the team's 13th of its last 16 games in the series, 10th victory of the previous 12 meetings, and the last time Georgia won consecutive games over Florida... and the final contest in the rivalry before Steve Spurrier returned to Gator Town.
|Against Florida in '89, standout defender Ben Smith |
was responsible for 3 of the Gators' 4 turnovers,
including "one of the best interceptions you'll see."
I won't mention how the series has transpired since 1990 with the arrival of the Evil Genius. Nevertheless, in watching the '89 game, I did notice how the Bulldogs ironically defeated the Gators in a similar manner to some of Florida's victories in Jacksonville over the last two decades.
The Gators appeared to be the better team and outgained the Bulldogs in total yardage by a decisive 438 to 275 advantage. Regardless, Georgia forced four turnovers while committing just one, stopped Florida on two fourth-down attempts, and above all, seemed to have the "it" factor – simply put, on that afternoon, there was no way the Bulldogs were going to lose to one of their chief rivals, especially to Florida in Jacksonville.
As Georgia begins another football season in a mere four days, my hopes for the 2012 campaign begin with the Bulldogs recapturing the "it" factor. It's been at least five seasons since the Georgia football team possessed such a valuable element. And, if the Bulldogs can regain it, they likely can capture another desire the program has been long craving for, one that has eluded it for nearly a quarter-century – a second straight win over the despised Gators.
I just said, nearly a quarter-century... Has it really been that long?