One of Georgia fans’ favorite Bulldog wins over the Gators has to be the 37-17 decision in 1997.
The game had a Georgia back, Robert Edwards, running for 124 yards and four touchdowns. It saw Hines Ward accounting for 203 total yards, with seven receptions for 85 yards, five rushes for 21 yards, two pass completions for 27 yards and two kickoff returns for 70 yards. It broke a seven-game Florida winning streak and was the Gators’ worst regular season loss in five years.
Plus, it was a win over Steve Spurrier in his prime.
Despite QB Mike Bobo throwing three picks that day, Georgia racked up 434 yards of offense (287 through the air). The Dogs took a 14-3 lead into halftime thanks to two of Edwards’ touchdowns. Florida, which used three quarterbacks in that game (Doug Johnson, Noah Brindise and Jesse Palmer) came back to grab a 17-14 lead in the third quarter, but it was all Georgia from that point on, with the Dogs scoring 23 unanswered points, including a beautiful 37-yard Edwards scamper down the left sideline that lingers in the memory as one of the high points of UGA football in the 1990s.
The Dogs’ defense did its job that day, too. Florida entered the game averaging 440 yards of offense but was limited to 327 total yards as the Dogs snagged four interceptions — two by Kirby Smart, now Alabama’s defensive coordinator. It was the worst defeat for the Gators since their 62-24 drubbing by Nebraska in the 1996 Fiesta Bowl national championship game and Florida’s worst regular-season defeat since a 45-24 loss to Florida State in 1992.
Said Spurrier after the game: “I don’t know what else to say except they were better than us. The Georgia Bullodgs are a better football team than the Florida Gators and they proved it tonight. They beat us in every area, they outcoached us and outplayed us and the whole bit. We have no excuses, they just beat us.”
What’s often overlooked is that the 14th ranked Bulldogs entered the game 20-point underdogs to the No. 6 Gators — an even bigger point spread than the 16 points Tim Tebow and Co. are favored by this year.
Of course, the 1997 Dogs, Jim Donnan’s best team, had Ward.
But this year’s Dogs do have A.J. Green. Bobo was a more experienced quarterback than Joe Cox, though if Cox had been given more playing experience, he’d probably be as good as Bobo was.
The big difference is the 2009 Dogs don’t have a Robert Edwards. Not even close. Or a Matt Stinchcomb on the offensive line. Or a Champ Bailey or Kirby Smart on defense.
And Florida has Tim Tebow and Brandon Spikes.
Still, it’s good that the current Dogs can look at the record book and see that big upsets can happen in Jacksonville.