The Bulldogs won 13 games, the SEC Championship and the Sugar Bowl last year.
"The fans still wanted to know when we were going to beat Florida, I
know that," Coach Mark Richt said. "I haven't been checking things
but if anybody has, they haven't checked that one off."
From 1964 until 1989, Florida never beat the Bulldogs twice in a row.
Since then, Georgia has left Jacksonville, Fla., a loser 12 times in 13
tries, winning only in 1997 and losing 20-13 last year despite entering
the game as the favorite.
"It's always about what has happened last and what has happened has
been a bad experience, a terrible experience," said athletic director
Vince Dooley, the Bulldogs' coach from 1964-'88. "It's been terrible for
Georgia, and we want to try to change that."
Their chance comes today at 3:30 p.m. when No. 4 Georgia (7-1, 4-1 SEC)
and No. 23 Florida (5-3, 3-2) meet in Alltel Stadium. All that's on the
line today, the SEC East lead and BCS positioning, seems secondary for
Bulldog fans to breaking the hold the Gators have on Georgia's throat.
"It might be a (mental) block, I don't know," Georgia tight end
Ben Watson said. "All I know is the last couple of years, we've had just as
good a team as them and they've beat us."
Richt answered "What will it take to end the spell?" questions
"All you can do is win," he said. "Nothing is going to
change unless we
do something about it."
Richt said he has seen no sign of fright or quit in the two teams he
has taken to Jacksonville, but Dooley said a streak of this magnitude
can affect the players on the losing end if a game begins to turn
"You have to believe you can find a way to win," he said.
probably could take place in both directions."
Georgia's coaches aren't giving any history lessons this week. Richt
said he thinks his players are well aware of the recent trend, and they
"You'd think that we surely could have won more than one game in 13
years," offensive lineman Josh Brock said.
The Bulldogs' staff is trying to focus on the present, which has plenty
of importance as well. If Georgia wins today, it will need to win just
one more league game to clinch the SEC East crown and it will remain
within striking distance of the national championship.
"We've got to do a good job as coaches to get them to realize, as
cliched as it sounds, that it is just another game," said quarterbacks
coach Mike Bobo, who quarterbacked the 1997 Georgia team. "I'm worried
because we're young and we're banged up. I'm not worried because we've
won once in 13 years."
The Bulldogs are 2.5-point favorites today despite coming off two
lackluster performances. Florida, by comparison, is coming off two upset
"It's easy for us to consider ourselves the underdog," Gator
Mike Degory said. "They've got the higher rating. We're still trying to
come back from a 3-3 season, so they're definitely the favorites."
Richt tried this week to put the game in perspective but seemed to
sense he was fighting a losing battle.
"It's a big deal no doubt about it, but is it life or death? I don't
think so," he said. "I can guarantee you that we're going to play as
hard as we can. We're going to coach as hard as we can. If we win, we'll
be excited. If we don't, life will go on."
But, for the seniors who could finish 0-4 against the Gators, it will
not be the same, defensive lineman Ken Veal said.
"I would love to say I was part of the team that started beating
Florida," he said. "For me not to beat Florida would tug at my heart
rest of my life."
No. 4 Georgia (7-1, 4-1 SEC) vs. No. 23 Florida (5-3, 3-2 SEC)
Kickoff: 3:30 p.m.
Stadium: Alltel Stadium (80,000), Jacksonville, Fla.
Tickets: Sold out
Kickoff weather: High of 80, low of 62; partly cloudy; zero percent
chance of rain
Series: Georgia leads 45-32-2 according to its records, Georgia leads
series 44-34-2 in Florida's records (Georgia counts a 52-0 win over
Florida in 1904, while the Gators contend they didn't field a team until (1906)
Odds: Georgia favored by 2.5
Injuries: Georgia -- Probable: WR Fred Gibson (knee), OL Josh Brock
(shoulder), OL Bartley Miller (shoulder), FB Jeremy Thomas (concussion),
TE Robert Brannon (Achilles); Doubtful -- WR Sean Bailey (hamstring);
Out -- CB Decory Bryant (neck), FB Jamario Smith (back). Florida --
Probable: RB Ran Carthon (hamstring), OL Mo Mitchell (hand).
Up next: Georgia vs. Auburn, Nov. 15; Florida vs. Vanderbilt, Nov. 8
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