It certainly was not a pretty game, but the Georgia Bulldogs took care of business in Jacksonville on Saturday and defeated the Florida Gators 23-20, giving Georgia its first three-game winning streak in the series known by most as The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party since 1989.
Although all Georgia fans rejoiced in extending the winning streak against Florida (the aforementioned streak in the late ‘80s was also the last time the Dawgs won back-to-back games against the Gators), the game in and of itself was very disappointing and at times downright embarrassing for the Bulldogs. Namely, the biggest problem with the Bulldogs on Saturday was its inability to close out the deal, as the team led its biggest rival 23-3 at halftime and yet still found a way to allow the Gators back into the game.
Naturally, part of the problems that have plagued Georgia at different points in the 2013 season came into play in Jacksonville, including a poor second half performance from an offense that at times has been simply anemic this season. In the second half of this contest, Aaron Murray and Company managed to post zero points, gain 95 yards, and turn the ball over on a play in which tight end Arthur Lynch vented his frustrations of missing a catch while Gators defender Leon Orr picked up the live ball and took off for ten yards that would lead to a Florida touchdown. Frankly, the Florida/Georgia game this year was portrayed as being a game between two struggling teams, and the fact of the matter is that Florida out-struggled Georgia when it was all said and done.
The second half from Georgia definitely was not the stuff of legends, but what was memorable from the Bulldogs’ victory was the play of sophomore running back Todd Gurley. Coming back from an ankle injury that sidelined him for three games, Gurley showed the nation why his absence was so crippling to Georgia’s offense, as the North Carolina native slashed through #1 defense in the Southeastern Conference to the tune of 121 yards and two touchdowns in the first quarter alone. Gurley, who came out for a considerable amount of time due to exhaustion, would finish the victory with 187 all-purpose yards and the two first-half TDs, simultaneously adding to his already impressive résumé and possibly putting his name of the Heisman watch list for 2014.
Georgia fans certainly could not have been entirely pleased with Saturday’s performance; however, this game says a lot about how the dynamic between this matchup has changed since Urban Meyer vacated Gainesville after the 2010 season. If you explained how the game played out to Bulldog Nation back in the midst of the Meyer run or, heck, even the Ron Zook era that preceded it (Zook went 2-1 against Georgia), and included the fact that the Bulldogs prevailed, I am sure that every fan would calmly wipe their brow and be thankful that their team came out on top; that’s not the case after this win, as this victory against a Florida team that has struggled offensively week-to-week just leaves a majority of the fans wondering how the Bulldogs almost let this one slip away. To put it simply, the Gators are no longer on the pedestal that Stephen Orr Spurrier placed his alma mater on in the 1990’s, meaning that they are certainly beatable each and every Saturday; whether this is current head coach Will Muschamp’s fault is hard to judge, but, then again, it does not help when the Georgia alum is now 0-7 in this annual SEC East matchup.
With this victory over the Gators the Bulldogs now move to 5-3 on the season and are now preparing to faceoff with the Appalachian State Mountaineers in Athens. Known by most for their upset over the #5 Michigan Wolverines in 2007, the Mountaineers are simply not at the level of competitiveness that helped the team ruin Michigan’s hopes of playing for a national championship in the very first week of the season, as the team is currently 2-7 and has lost five of its last six games. Barring the biggest upset of the 2013 season, the Bulldogs will ease past Appalachian State and head to Auburn, Alabama with a 6-3 record and take on a #9 Tigers squad that is still in the hunt for the SEC Championship.
What was your takeaway from Georgia’s victory on Saturday? Were you content that the Dawgs got the “W”, or upset that the outcome even came into doubt? Leave a comment and let your opinion be heard