LEADOFF: Beware of upsets in Georgia-Florida rivalry

Georgia coach Kirby Smart and Florida coach Jim McElwain meet after last year’s game in Jacksonville.
Georgia coach Kirby Smart and Florida coach Jim McElwain meet after last year’s game in Jacksonville.

Credit: Hyosub Shin

Credit: Hyosub Shin

Good morning. This is LEADOFF, today’s early look at Atlanta sports.

Georgia is ranked No. 3. Florida is unranked. Georgia is favored by two touchdowns. Florida is riddled with injuries.

Would a Gators win in Jacksonville on Saturday be the biggest upset in the history of the Georgia-Florida series?

Perhaps, but it’s certainly worth noting amid the buildup to the game that this is a rivalry known over the decades for stunning upsets.

For example:

> Nov. 5, 1966: Unranked Georgia upsets No. 7 Florida, 27-10. The Gators entered the game undefeated, led by senior quarterback Steve Spurrier, who was enjoying a season that would win him the Heisman Trophy. The Bulldogs intercepted three of his passes. Although unranked entering the game – the AP poll was limited to the Top 10 at the time – Georgia went on to share the SEC championship with Alabama.

> Nov. 9, 1974: Unranked Georgia upsets No. 6 Florida, 17-16. The Gators brought a 7-1 record and Georgia a 5-3 mark into the game. Florida's unsuccessful 2-point conversion attempt in the final minute decided things.

> Nov. 9, 1985: No. 17 Georgia upsets No. 1 Florida, 24-3. The Gators were undefeated (7-0-1) and, although on NCAA probation, No. 1 in the Associated Press poll for the first time in the program's history. But the Bulldogs dominated the game, handing the Gators their only loss of the season.

> Nov. 2, 2002: Unranked Florida upsets No. 5 Georgia, 20-13. The Bulldogs entered with an 8-0 record and the Gators with a 5-3 record in their first season under coach Ron Zook. Georgia went on to win the SEC championship and finish 13-1, but the loss to the Gators, who finished 8-5, might have cost the Bulldogs a chance to play in the BCS national championship game.

> Oct. 27, 2007: No. 20 Georgia upsets No. 9 Florida, 42-30: Georgia had lost 15 of the previous 17 against the Gators at this point, and Florida had won the national championship the season before. After UGA's first touchdown in the first quarter, the entire Georgia team stormed the end zone for a mass celebration.

> Nov. 1, 2014: Unranked Florida upsets No. 9 Georgia, 38-20. The Gators shredded the Bulldogs' defense for 418 rushing yards. The loss to the 12-point underdog Gators wound up costing Georgia the SEC East title, which was claimed by Missouri despite its 34-0 loss to Georgia.

There are other improbable outcomes that could be added to this list, but you get the idea.

(Rankings above are based on Associated Press polls.)

Suggested video:

Georgia coach Kirby Smart talks about the intense rivalry that is Florida and Georgia.

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