Other teams do it, happily, when they can. One doesn't hear it much in
Nashville ever, nor in Starkville lately, or Columbia most of the time.
to be .../
But it seems like a Florida cheer, and the Gators spent a little more
than a decade dancing proudly to it almost 90 percent of the time on
/a Florida Gator I said
a Florida Gator/
On a Saturday that ended a rough week, on a warm day in a stadium
preparing for a Super Bowl, being a Gator wasn't all that hot.
On the other haaaand ...
a Georrrgia Bulldog I said
a Georgia Bulldog/
As much as Florida so enjoyed taking Georgia to the woodshed all these
years, the Bulldog Nation went through a mass exorcism of sorts Saturday
as its team did a fine job of failing to seal the deal early before
coming through with a with a relief-filled 31-24 win over the Gators at
It was the rare night since 1990 in this series that Georgia's memory
of The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail party wasn't truly forgettable.
Twas truly an odd sight for so many young Bulldog fans: The Georgia
quarterback taking a knee against Florida, and the Bulldogs just hanging
out on the field celebrating and high-fiving hungry fans who were
For 13 of 14 years, Georgia fans danced into Jacksonville, full of
optimism and a superiority complex. Over the same span, Florida fans
subconsciously took a cue from their coach at the time, pointed to the
scoreboard, and pretty much just smirked.
Why shouldn't they?
Georgia to Florida has been what South Carolina is to Georgia, to a
point. Good border rivalry, lots of remarkable smack talk, and then the
game. USC-UGA for the last decade or so has been more entertaining and
closer than UGA-UF, but just as one-sided at the end.
But this is The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party, so yes, it's
clearly the bigger deal.
Florida was in such control for so long, but Georgia was getting
closer. Yes, the defeats were less embarrassing, but those last few
years inspired a greater "if not now, when?" tone in Bulldog Nation,
countered almost yearly by "not just yet, Fluffy" from Gator Nation.
When? Now. Finally.
Georgia was the better team Saturday, despite some spells of major
mediocrity. The Bulldog defense was again less than impressive several
times, courtesy of an absence of fundamentals and wretched tackling.
Again, some Georgia defenders seem more interested in the hit 15 yards
downfield than making a simple play two yards past the line. This time,
they bowed up enough at the crucial times to survive.
The offense was a few dropped passes away from really taking control.
Only a botched snap marred Georgia's red-zone visits, the Bulldogs
actually looking like they knew what to do when near the goal line.
And for a change, none of the missteps were big enough for Georgia to
The final two minutes, the still-filled Georgia half of the stadium
stood and yelled and barked and sang, almost a whoosh coming over the
field as finally, finally, finally Georgia held up its end of the deal
against a Florida team that never quit and was pretty danged close to
terrorizing the Bulldogs yet again.
The Gators were tough, even without their best defender for nearly the
entire game, and a banged up tailback who was the best ball carrier of
the day, and despite some quite interesting penalty calls.
Quarterback David Greene darned near started a strip tease afterward,
throwing particles of clothing and accoutrements into the crowd. He
apparently kept the game ball, and would be very much forgiven if he
slept with it Saturday night.
After all, Georgia knocked off its back the monkey of the dismal trips
to the Neutral Field Bowl, failed to let the Gators and their immensely
talented sophomore quarterback continue a fourth-quarter comeback and
repeat last year's last-minute nightmare.
So now muted a fair bit will be talk of taking this game away every
other year from Jacksonville, where the field is of the same dimensions
as in Athens and Gainesville, now that the Bulldogs finally interrupted
that Gator run and begin dreaming of their own.
Suddenly, Jacksonville was a heavenly place to visit for the neighbors
to the north, and it was with strong throat and delirious mind that
members of the Nation on hand were able to, with Florida on the other
side and the St. John's River a few hundred yards away, forget about
everything else and remind themselves of one thing, and with enthusiasm:
a Georgia Bulldog./
Thoughts of the Evil Genius perhaps returning to this gathering can
wait for another day.