Georgia football: parallels between 2018 and 1997 games with Florida

JACKSONVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 27: The Georgia Bulldogs (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
JACKSONVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 27: The Georgia Bulldogs (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

Georgia football defeated Florida 36-17 Saturday to beat the Gators for the fifth time in eight years. They game played out similarly to the 1997 Cocktail Party.

Georgia football finally appears to be turning around their fortunes against the Florida Gators. After winning just three times between 1990 and 2010, Georgia has won five times since 2011. The win Saturday was the Dawg’s second in a row against Florida and is the first step in silencing Florida’s chatter about dominating the rivalry.

The impact of this game and they way it played out, felt a lot like another Georgia/Florida game from over 20 years ago. There are numerous similarities between the 2018 victory and the 1997 upset win. Staring with the score. the 2018 Dawgs beat the Gators 36-17. The 1997 team beat Florida 37-17. Had Georgia elected to kick an extra point on a late touchdown instead of going for two points, the score would have been the same.

The simulates go beyond the score. In both instances, the game was a matchup of top 15 teams, and the score of both games were a surprise as they were expected to be close games. Florida was a popular favorite to beat Georgia in 1997 and 2018.

Of course, Kirby Smart was a big part of both games, intercepting two passes as a safety in 1997, and has head coach of the Dawgs in 2018. Tyrique McGhee’s two turnover performance mirrored Smart’s effort in 1997.

In 1997 Georgia scored first with a touchdown by Robert Edwards and eventually led at halftime 14-3. This past Saturday, Georgia scored first with a field goal and then soon after with a touchdown pass to J.J. Holloman. The Dawgs led 13-7 at halftime.

Georgia lost the lead early in the second half Saturday with a quick drive that gave the Gators a 14-13 lead. Back in 1997, Florida jumped on Georgia with two quick drives to take a 17-14 lead. In both games, that was the last time Florida led or even had a shot of winning.

Edwards and Georgia’s running game dominated the final 22 minutes of the game, outscoring the Gators 23-0 on route to a 37-17 win. Saturday, Georgia’s balanced offense with Jake Fromm’s passing, and Elijah Holyfield and D’Andre Swift’s running allowed Georgia to outscore the Gators 23-3 in the final quarter and a half to win.

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Hopefully that is where the parallels end. Georgia lost to Auburn in 1997 to completely end their long-shot chance of going to Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game. The Dawgs also lost the following six games to Florida. But based on the direction the program is going, those results are more unlikely. But if the similarities do continue, does this mean that a future Georgia head coach in on this 2018 team?