Georgia-Florida is a rivalry, but what about the Gamecocks?

The annual game in Jacksonville is Georgia's most intense rivalry. (AJC file)

The annual game in Jacksonville is Georgia's most intense rivalry. (AJC file)

A recent ESPN.com article on the top five rivalries in the SEC has generated quite a bit of conversation among fans.

Topped by Alabama-LSU, the list (which focused on the rivalries considered hottest right now) also included Georgia-Florida, the Iron Bowl between Bama and Auburn, Georgia-South Carolina, and the Egg Bowl match of Ole Miss and Mississippi State.

Notably, Georgia-Auburn, the game widely known as the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry, didn’t make the cut.

Now, knowing how devoted ESPN is to being trendy (they listed Alabama-Texas A&M as a rising rivalry on the basis of, what, one year?), I imagine the fact that Georgia has dominated its series over Auburn recently (the Cam Newton blip being the exception) is probably one reason that much-heralded series didn’t make the list. Neither did Alabama-Tennessee, which also has become one-sided.

But the Georgia-Auburn series still has all the intrinsic elements that make a traditional rivalry: history, proximity of the schools and fan bases and, overall, it’s been an incredibly even series, even if the Dogs have won most of the past few games.

But for younger fans, in whose lifetimes the Gators have always been a major power, the Georgia-Auburn rivalry has been eclipsed by the Georgia-Florida game in Jacksonville. And, with Georgia once again becoming competitive in that series, now having won two in a row and shifting the can-we-break-the-losing-streak conversation to Gainesville, that rivalry is hotter than ever.

Georgia-Florida is definitely the Dogs’ top rivalry now, but historically it once was rivaled, so to speak, by Georgia-Clemson. Unfortunately, those two schools have only met twice a decade in recent years, but there’s still a lot of rivalry elements there. There’s even been a book written about it (“Fighting Like Cats and Dogs” by Kyle King — more to come on that).

And then, of course, there’s the annual grudge match with in-state rival Georgia Tech. That game may have lost some of its luster in recent decades as the Jackets have become less competitive, but if you go by the level of hatred generated by a series, it’s still a healthy rivalry. Someone said a rivalry game isn’t necessarily the one you most want to win, it’s the one you least want to lose. And that definitely is how the Bulldog Nation views the Tech game.

But Georgia-South Carolina? Seeing that on the ESPN list, one of the sports guys at work asked me if I considered that to be a major rivalry, and I had to say no.

It’s a big game, no doubt about it — just as important as the Florida game.

And since Steve Spurrier has been in Columbia, the series has developed a bit of the hatred element that a good rivalry needs.

But there’s little history there — probably because the Gamecocks couldn’t make up their minds for years what conference they were going to be in, or whether they were even going to be in a conference.

And that series also lacks the sort of fan passion that elevates a game to rivalry status. A loss to a rival hurts all year long, but with Georgia having managed to win the SEC East the past two years despite losing to the Gamecocks, that isn’t really the case with this series.

border bash 2013True, the closer you live to South Carolina, the more the series is likely to approach rivalry status. In Augusta, for instance, they hold an annual Border Bash charity gathering the Friday before the game, featuring the two schools’ cheerleaders as well as mascots Cocky and Hairy Dawg. (The 20th anniversary bash is set for Sept. 6 at the Augusta Common.)

Someone else asserted that South Carolina fans consider the series with Georgia more of a rivalry than Georgia fans do, but when I checked with a Gamecock pal, he nixed that idea. It’s a big, big game, he agreed, but South Carolina’s only true rivalry game is with Clemson, he said. That’s the one that’s talked about all year.

Really, Georgia-South Carolina has pretty much taken the place that Georgia-Tennessee occupied back in the 1990s, when that series approached but never quite reached rivalry status. The two schools didn’t have much tradition or history between them — sort of like Georgia and Alabama — but the hatred level was growing when Phil Fulmer was riding high. If the Vols had remained good, that game might have become a rivalry, but it never really achieved that status.

Same goes for Georgia-South Carolina. The Gamecocks have won three in a row and Spurrier certainly is a favorite villain among Georgia fans. The proximity factor noted by the Border Bash tag is there, too. If the game remains competitive and important to the Dogs’ SEC chances each year, it one day may indeed become a rivalry.

But for now it’s simply the toughest game the Dogs will play this season.

At least, that’s how I view it. How about you? What do you think makes a rivalry? And do you consider Georgia-South Carolina to be one?

Got something you want to discuss concerning the upcoming football season or UGA athletics? Or a question you want the Junkyard Blawg to tackle? Email me at  junkyardblawg@gmail.com.

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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

166 comments Add your comment

Dawg_Mike

August 17th, 2013
10:29 am

Yes, its a rivalry as it contains everything necessary to get the teams and fanbases riled up.

dawggirl

August 17th, 2013
10:38 am

The history is definitely not there. And until the last few years, I always just viewed that game as the SEC opener, a close one but usually a sure win. It’s almost like we took them for granted. Must win this year. Period.

jrmdvm1

August 17th, 2013
11:03 am

Way back when, it seemed that we played Clemson, South Carolina, Florida, Auburn, and Georgia Tech every year. All of those games had a “rivalry” atmosphere then. I was always proud of the fact that we played more rivalry games every year than any other team. What I considered a rivalry game was one that was played every year, and that the outcome often was not what the “rankings” would not have predicted. It seemed that even when the favored team one, the score was closer than it should have been, or the favorite had to come from behind.

PigIron

August 17th, 2013
11:04 am

We’re working with two different definitions of “rivalry” here. The traditional rivalry is the one that your Grandpa can tell you stories about. In that category, Auburn vs. Georgia or Alabama vs. Tennessee would be the standouts.

The “rivalry” that ESPN was writing about is the game that, in recent years, fans most fear will result in a loss for their home team. In that case, you’d list Georgia vs. South Carolina and Alabama vs. LSU as standouts.

PigIron

August 17th, 2013
11:09 am

BTW: As for tradition, kudos to Florida and Georgia for retaining the neutral field rivalry game. If you ever give that up, then the game will never be the same again. It loses some of it’s flavor when it becomes a Home & Home game.

jrmdvm1

August 17th, 2013
11:12 am

should have been “favored team won one”

Cuz

August 17th, 2013
11:18 am

I live in Augusta. You can bet it is a rivalry here. Plenty of SC fans that live in Georgia with plenty of Dawg fans living in Carolina. Bragging rights all year here.

SBC Pastor

August 17th, 2013
11:21 am

Is SC-UGA a rivalry? No, at least not yet. I like PigIron’s description: a game your Grandpa can tell you about, and the South Carolina game is not there yet.

DawgNation

August 17th, 2013
11:28 am

Pigiron hit the nail on the head as did you Bill with your story. Georgia-Florida remains the biggest and Georgia-Georgia Tech close second for the reasons you mentioned. Just can’t bare to lose that one. Georgia-South Carolina has the feel, but only because “The Evil One” is there. Georgia-Auburn remains the key each year to the dogs chances for a East crown if we beat Florida so the importance can not be diminished.

DawgNation

August 17th, 2013
11:30 am

Cuz which one hurts worse? A loss to SC or to Tech? Or even Florida?

Desert Fox

August 17th, 2013
11:51 am

Rivalries evolve as fans evolve, coaches come and go, teams go through ups and downs, mind sets change w/the times. Tech was GA’s rivalry game back when. it slowly began to slide as Tech slid off the grid as a national contender. it hasn’t been very competitive in the last 10 w/a few exceptions when they drubbed us w/the triple option a few tears ago. Since then and the arrival of Spurrier at SC, who killed us when he coached at FL, now has a run of three in a row, its become a game you cannot look past anymore and evolved into a rivalry. Will likely stay that way until he retires or circumstance where GA gets back on track in win column. AU game has lost some of its luster as a rivalry w/the struggles they’re going through but that’ll change if Malzonne turns things around. Rivalries sort of come and go but never completely die. They sort of simmer like volcanoes until something brings them back to life.

CHDawg

August 17th, 2013
11:55 am

Love him or hate him, Spurrier is a great CFB coach. He has always prepared for UGA doubly hard and his seasons reflect it. They looked their best against UGA for the past few years, but they couldn’t keep the momentum going. Probably because if you sink everything into one opponent you sap the team and staff. Last year, when they were trying so hard to run up the score on us late, I saw one of their assistants (after a good play), a big guy, who looked like they had just won the BCS game. His enthusiasm seemed out of place in light of the score and the clock, so SOS obviously breeds it deep into his staff. Georgia, on the other hand, has played very poorly against SC lately, and last year we looked like we didn’t bother to notice who was on the schedule that week. We appeared flat and content. In fact, for the last few years, we have generally started weak and gotten much stronger as the year progressed. I am not sure why we start cold, but it isn’t going to work this year. They are going to have to get ready early. BTW, if you read their blogs, UGA is the big game of the season for our feathered friends. They have been looking ahead to the Dawgs all summer. Go Dawgs.

Bazooka Joe

August 17th, 2013
12:03 pm

Bill, I agree and disagree with you…. here goes
If I were to rank where south Carolina falls on our list of “rivalry” games,I would say #5 – Tech, Florida, Auburn, Tenn. then South Carolina. So I think we “kinda” agree here (although you put them above Tenn. – I am thinking more of the bigger picture instead of just since Spurrier has been there).
I disagree with you regarding how South Carolina fans feel about UGA and whether we are one of their top rivals. I had the miserable assignment of living in Cola for a little while (couldn’t wait to get out of that dump… why anyone would want to live there or go to school there is beyond me). I agree that Clemson is their #1 but we are a close #2, I think their fans talked more hatred towards UGA than Clemson. I just think they are irrelevant and not worth thinking about any more than any other SEC game.

ALB-Dawg

August 17th, 2013
12:09 pm

Historically, AU and UGA is a huge rivalry, and that will probably cycle back around if Auburn stabilizes. South Carolina / UGA has become a bigger rivalry because Spurrier took over, and he hates UGA. Spurrier aside, the game has always been kind of a nasty slugfest, excepting a few seasons when one team was clearly dominate. It goes without saying that everyone seems to have forgotten how big the Clemson/UGA rivalry was.

I won’t be surprised if UGA goes 0-2. I won’t be surprised if UGA goes 2-0. Either way, from everything I read, this seems like a bunch of dawgs. It is going to be exciting.

I hope that the UGA fans will provide south Carolina the most hostile environment they will play in all season. I hope that they’ll make the famous Auburn blackout seem like spelling bee.

ALB-Dawg

August 17th, 2013
12:15 pm

Don’t mean to double dip, but a Red Tide friend of mine went to the SC/UGA game last year. He said that he’d never seen anything like SC fanbase that night. He even said that included Bama games, and that’s a heck of a thing for a Bama fan to suggest anything may have been slightly better, bigger, louder than anything having to do with Bama.

So that’s the charge, Dawg fans: Make it louder!

dawgfan

August 17th, 2013
12:26 pm

Ten years ago I don’t think I hated anyone as much as I hated Tennessee. Their fans did not take losing to us very well. They were like Tech fans, with less teeth. Nowadays I have a hard time remembering their coach’s name and that they even have a football team.

NCDawg

August 17th, 2013
12:34 pm

UGA vs Auburn will be a rivalry until it ends. The history is what keeps it alive in the down years. There have been periods where Auburn owned us for a few years and vice versa. The Spurrier years are the only reason UF VS UGA is a top rivalry now. He didn’t just win…he GLOATED about it. He rubbed our faces in it. So we hate him for that. The importance of the game really jacked up the intensity of the rivalry. Those are real rivalries.
UGA vs SC is getting there. The importance of the game and the institutional dislike of Spurrier have elevated it to “rivalry in waiting” status. The history is not there yet. If Spurrier sticks around a few more years and they keep being challengers it will have enough history to become a top rivalry. The personalities alone will elevate it.

Now if Spurrier retires and the Chickens fade it will quickly become secondary, just another divison game that must be won. The Auburn rivalry would take more than a few down years to kill. That is a rivalry.

Bulldawg35

August 17th, 2013
1:45 pm

Yeah the chickens are our 2nd rivalry! Beware of clowney
Beware of clowney

7576DAWG

August 17th, 2013
2:07 pm

One of the problem’s that Georgia has had is to realize that Spurrier brought his hatred for Georgia with him from Florida and to him it is one of the most important games every year. Georgia has always taken the South Carolina game for granted until now after being embarrassed 3 year’s in a row. I hope that mind set is different from now on or at least until Spurrier retires.

RowFour

August 17th, 2013
2:20 pm

1. No GT + Auburn is not a rivalry, we beat them every year.
2. Florida is not a rivalry, we beat them every year now.
3. South Carolina isn’t a rivalry, they beat us every year now.

Good rivalries are teams who you beat about 50% of the time, presently, recently, in last 2 years.

Maybe Alabama is our only true rivalry.

Moist Dawg

August 17th, 2013
2:52 pm

just because uscjr gets a couple lucky breaks doesnt mean its a rivalry. im usually about as nervus for them as north texas
south carolina? please.

AC

August 17th, 2013
3:01 pm

The rivalry is with Steve Spurrier, not South Carolina. It is a big game, but not a rivalry. I agree with others, if Spurrier stays at SC and continues to build them into a SEC Champion contender for the next 10 years or so, then it may become a rivalry.

I still consider Clemson a major rival because, year and year out, we compete for the same players in the state of Georgia. They get their fair share. While SC poses some recruiting battles, for the most part, we win most of the battles in state.

Auburn, to me, is still a bigger game than SC simply because we go head to head in recruiting battles in state.

UGA Rivals
1. UF
2. Auburn
3. Clemson (Whenever we play them.)

Bulldawg35

August 17th, 2013
3:12 pm

Clemson 45 UGA 21

SC 33 UGA 28

Sad but true

DawgNight

August 17th, 2013
3:16 pm

So let’s count the rivals:
1.Florida
2. S.C.
3. Auburn
4. Tenn
5. GTech
Now in 2013 we can add- 6. Clemson

That’s half of our schedule that circles the DATE with us. Most CFB teams have 2 rivals at MOST.

Just Sayin……12-1 SEC Champions

LakeDawg

August 17th, 2013
3:44 pm

To the poster that said UF only became a rivalry after Spurrier arrived, I have to correct you. GA/UF was a rivalry long before Spurrier arrived. In the 60’s UGA kept the Evil Genius from an SEC title. In the 70’s the UGA/UF game was the most anticipated game on the schedule on a yearly basis. That continued through the 80’s. I know, I was there. During the late 70’s through the 80’s UGA’s top rivalries were 1) UF 2) Clemson or AU take your pick 4) UT. USCe has always been more of a rivalry for them than us.

ALB-Dawg

August 17th, 2013
4:12 pm

Have to agree. FL was a rival before Spurrier arrived. It was just just that Dickey, Pell, and Hall couldn’t get it done even when they were spying on UGA’s practices and buying players. LOL

LakeDawg

August 17th, 2013
4:37 pm

What made the game so anticipated was that even though UGA usually found a way to win, UF was always super talented and everyone always feared they were getting ready to roll us, making the inevitable win all the sweeter. Spurrier came in and changed all of that.

RED DOG 77

August 17th, 2013
4:41 pm

I have to agree with you Bill, South Carolina is toughest foe we will face this season until we meet Alabama once again in the SECCG. South Carolina isn’t close in the w/l column, and while I detest Spurrier, you got to hand it to the ‘Ol ball coach……….until he retires, they will be a tough cookie year in and year out. I do cringe at the prospect of losing to the BEES though………….I hate to lose, but to them?now?…………I remember the old days of Clemson being a “big un” for us………..which will be the case in two weeks…………….But fear-not Bulldog nation……………Clemson won’t be able to keep up with us past mid-way through the third quarter…………Looks like an exciting year brewing for our DAWGS………….as long as we stay away from the Brown dye #3……………..RED

VaDawg

August 17th, 2013
5:04 pm

So here is my take. Ga/Fla is THE rivalry game. If we played Clemson regularly it would #2 hands down but Ga/GT is currently #2. Ga/Auburn is #3 just based on the tradition and length it has been played. But SC and Spurrier could eclipse this game if Auburn does not get back to revelency in the SEC real soon. I think the fact that Ala/Tenn and Ga/Auburn are not rated as rivalry games by ESPN is that ESPN has a vested interest in the SEC going to 9 conference games. Because of the impending SEC network they want more content and really think the traditional rivalry games are getting in the way of that so they don’t rate them as rivalries.Consider the source of the rankings.

Bulldawg35

August 17th, 2013
5:05 pm

Brown dye….sounds like a man who knows from experience

Bulldawg35

August 17th, 2013
5:07 pm

I wonder who will be starting in our secondary on opening day?? Connor or Blake sailors…Marc Deas and Devin bowman…gee we are going to fail

Burma Shave

August 17th, 2013
5:15 pm

Roses are red
Violets are blue
Richt can’t beat Spurrier
You know that’s true

BURMA SHAVE

Bulldawg35

August 17th, 2013
5:33 pm

2 thumbs up for that post Burma shave! Make these kool – aid drinkers wake up! And realize that Todd gump is not the answer

Bulldawg35

August 17th, 2013
5:34 pm

If you want to get your hand or thumb broke…..show up for a UGA practice

ARdawg

August 17th, 2013
6:07 pm

RED DOG 77
I wouldn’t be crowning Bama West champion just yet. Although if you listen to the trolls on these boards we should just cancel the season and mail them the crystal. Bama is going to get beat. Not if, when

Bulldawg35

August 17th, 2013
6:36 pm

Ar dawg

Yeah I think we should crown Clemson….taj Boyd is the best qb in the nation….even better than johnny football. He gone show all y’all up.. UGA is in trouble

Bulldawg35

August 17th, 2013
6:37 pm

I wonder if Marc whick has a twuck….want u back up on did den

Bulldawg35

August 17th, 2013
6:42 pm

Chavis couldn’t stop Clemson….what makes Todd gump thinks he can

AltamahaDawg

August 17th, 2013
6:59 pm

Piglron, I still consider your team, Auburn, as a rivalry.

AltamahaDawg

August 17th, 2013
7:02 pm

So Boyd is going to show “all ya”ll’? I think you meant “us” didn’t you?

Flo-Ri-Duh

August 17th, 2013
8:30 pm

BS35 (aka Milk Dud) – “So Boyd going to show all ya’ll?” That’s called a Freudian slip.

You are a Trojan Horse …… NO one here believes you are a Dawg fan so give it up.

Flo-Ri-Duh

August 17th, 2013
8:45 pm

Who’s going to start at safety you ask? That’s what Dabo wants to know.

Sammy shy’s from contact – Trey Matthew is going to knock him in to next month.

Watchmacallit

August 17th, 2013
9:16 pm

UGA SC’s second biggest rivalry, coming in a very close second to Clemson.

Georgia’s biggest rivalry games are: #1 Florida. #2 Georgia Tech. #3 Auburn.

For UGA, South Carolina is just another Eastern opponent. For SC, bating Georgia is validation.

ALB-Dawg

August 17th, 2013
9:19 pm

I am really interested to see if we’ll see more out of the fullbacks this season.

bubba4dawgs

August 17th, 2013
9:22 pm

Bulldawg35, you’re a true blue DAWG fan, aren’t you??

RED DOG 77

August 17th, 2013
9:31 pm

ARdawg……..Point taken, I guess I’m just going along with the crowd in believing Alabama will take the West. I haven’t taken a look at their schedule lately, but it seems I remember it not being too daunting………..but you’re right, and that is exactly what I love about college football, if not for a Cody fingernail, the Vols would have beaten them a couple years ago, we were 5 yds short, and who can forget La. Monroe?………….Let’s just hope ” ‘Ol Lady Luck ” will be with us this season and we get to see a changing of the guard in the SECW…………RED

RED DOG 77

August 17th, 2013
9:36 pm

Yep, bubba4dawgs…………You noticed Georgia Tech is using “Blue” in their uniforms more and more too, didn’t you ?

RED DOG 77

August 17th, 2013
9:45 pm

Watchmacallit…………I agree with your post completely, especially the last point………by the way, isn’t watchmacallit a candy bar?………..be careful some on this site are “hooked” on the brown dye #3 that is in milkduds……………I think it’s a gateway drug……can ya dig it?…………better take a look at that wrapper carefully…………..RED

RED DOG 77

August 17th, 2013
10:11 pm

ALB-Dawg I wonder the same, however I’ve sort of picked up on the drift that Quayvon Hicks has had a solid camp, and having followed Richt through the years, if he has a stud at fullback, he’s going to use him. Hicks seems to be the real deal 6ft 2in 260 lbs and nasty……….I’ll guarantee you one thing, we’ll need him in three weeks when Clowney comes to town……….Regards, RED

The Bitter Truth

August 17th, 2013
10:53 pm

Both Clemson and South Carolina will whup up on UGA this year.

Buh bye, Richt!