Georgia football: 3 Cocktail Party games that broke hearts in Athens

David Greene #14 of the University of Georgia (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
David Greene #14 of the University of Georgia (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

Sometimes to appreciate where Georgia football is, you must look back on where they have come. Starting in 1990, the Florida Gators went on the most dominant stretch Georgia had ever endured.

Despite the Dawgs leading the series from the beginning to 1989, in 1990, Florida would win 18 of the next 21 matchups. Georgia still holds a strong lead in the overall series, as the Dawgs are 54-44-2 against the Gators.

With Florida defeating Georgia most years by large margins, there were games where it appeared Georgia was getting the rivalry back on track.

The Dawgs are the Gators’ daddies now, but it wasn’t always like that. That 2020 loss still burns, even though it doesn’t define much in the grand scheme of things. Since head coach Kirby Smart got to Athens, this game, more often than not, has gone the Dawgs’ way.

So before we get excited about this weekend’s game, let’s look at some of the most heartbreaking games between these two teams.

These three Georgia football losses to the Gators still hit a nerve.

These three games we look back are sure to pull up old emotions that, as Georgia fans, we have tried to forget. However, let’s look at this as a cleansing for the run we are currently enjoying as the Bulldogs attempt to win their fifth game of the last six meetings against the hated Gators.

Georgia has had to work hard to get where it is right now, and for so many years, this matchup in Jacksonville usually resulted in some heartbreak. Even though it’s much more fun to reflect on some of the best wins, the Georgia faithful will remember these and hope the Dawgs never get back to being this low.

1993: Florida 33, Georgia football 26

At this time, the losing streak to Florida was at three. However, the talk was that Florida was starting to turn the rivalry with head coach Steve Spurrier in his fourth season in Gainesville.

Georgia was in year five of the Ray Goff era. Although it started rocky, the 1991 and 1992 seasons proved the Dawgs were getting back on track to where they were in the 1980s. In 1992 Georgia finished 10-2 and won the Citrus Bowl over Ohio State. Led by junior quarterback Eric Zeier, who was in the midst of setting all-new passing records, the Dawgs should have been in good hands.

However, a rainstorm made the then-Gator Bowl field a muddy mess. Florida’s starting quarterback Danny Wuerffel struggled and got replaced. However, the Gators had a running back go for 183 yards. Late in the game, Florida clung to a 33-26 lead.

With five seconds, Eric Zeier completed a 12-yard pass believed to be the go-ahead touchdown. However, just as Zeier tried to snap the ball, a Florida cornerback called timeout. After the timeout, Zeier threw a fade in the corner of the endzone that was caught out of bounds. On that play, defensive pass interference was called on Florida. Setting up one play for Georgia to set up the potential game-tying after-point or game-winning two-point conversion — remember, in 1993, there was no overtime.

On the final play, Zeier’s pass from the two-yard line fell incomplete, ending the game. Florida would win the SEC that season and Georgia would finish 1993 with a 5-6 record. This matchup was such a heartbreaker because the Dawgs got so close, and it would set up for much dread in the decade of the 90s.

2002: Florida 20, Georgia football 13

Of all the losses to the Gators, this one may hurt as 20 years later, the thought of this game still haunts most Georgia fans.

2002 was Year 2 under Georgia head coach Mark Richt. The Dawgs were flying high, coming into Jacksonville 8-0. Florida was in their first year under their head coach Ron Zook, struggling with a 5-3 record coming into the game.

Georgia was set to clinch the SEC East for the first time in program history with a win. The Dawgs were also ranked No. 5, but three undefeated teams had lost that week. A victory over the Gators would put Georgia on a path to the BCS Championship Game.

The Dawgs played far from a team that had the potential to play for a national championship. Georgia committed three turnovers — including a pick-six thrown by backup quarterback DJ Shockley. The Dawgs went 0-for-13 on third down, and in the second half, they had the ball twice inside the red zone but failed to score. Even sure-footed kicked Billy Bennett missing two field goals.

None of that was as bad as this, though. Georgia was only down seven with 2:30 remaining in the game. With the ball on their 33-yard line, quarterback David Greene performed a beautiful play fake as he dropped back and delivered a perfect pass. At the Florida 35-yard line was a wide-open Terrence Edwards. He is arguably the greatest wide receiver in Georgia history, but this game was not the brightest moment for him, as, with nobody around him, Edwards dropped the pass.

Greene would finish the game with 141 yards, and Georgia would lose 20-13. The Dawgs would still go on to win its first SEC Championship in 20 years, but the result of this game left Bulldog Nation all wondering, “what if.”

2014: Florida 38, Georgia football 20

The final game that still breaks our hearts was in 2014, which was a crazy year for Georgia football. After a beat down of Clemson in the opening weekend, the Dawgs fell to South Carolina the next weekend in true Georgia heartbreaking fashion. After that game, Georgia would win five in a row.

What made the five in a row a bigger deal was the suspension of Todd Gurley halfway through the streak. Freshmen Nick Chubb and Sony Michel burst on the scene and had Georgia poised to win the SEC East.

Florida was heading in a different direction. Coming into the game with a 3-3 record, head coach Will Muschamp was on the hot seat, many believing this game would be his last as Florida head coach. Muschamp is 0-3 against Georgia. Florida had not lost four in a row to Georgia since losing six in a row from 1978-1983.

Georgia scored first to go up 7-0, but that was when the fun ended, and the nightmare began. The Dawgs would not score again until the eleven-minute mark. By then, Georgia trailed 31-7, eventually losing 38-20. A touchdown by Brenden Douglas with three seconds remaining made the game seem close.

Florida scored 38 points with a quarterback who went 3-6 for 27 yards. The Gators rushed for 418 yards, which shows just how important it is to run the ball in this matchup. The idea of Georgia taking the reins of the rivalry was gone. The game signaled to many Georgia fans the dominance of Florida over our Dawgs was not over.

The loss to Florida opened the door for Missouri to win the East, a team Georgia had beaten 34-0 earlier that season. Georgia finished 2014 with a 10-3 record. Florida would finish 7-5. Muschamp was fired two weeks after the Georgia game.

After so many heartbreaking losses to the Gators, the University of Georgia brought current head coach Kirby Smart home to Georgia in December 2015. He knows more than anybody the importance of this game. While Richt was an excellent coach, it was time for a change.

Must Read. Georgia football: The rivalry down in Jacksonville is the best all time. light

As Georgia fans enjoy the No.1 ranking, the win streaks, and the beatdowns of teams — let us not forget how fast one game in Jacksonville can erase it all. Also, remember, before Smart, Georgia expected to lose in Jacksonville. He has gone 4-2 since coming to Athens, and 5-2 looks a whole lot better than 4-3.