As October comes to a close, several NCAA Football teams are hyping up to face off with one of their rivals – the #2-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes will be traveling to State College to take on #13 Penn State Nittany Lions (not as much friction as a Buckeyes / Wolverines game, but still a good matchup), while intrastate rivals #4 Michigan and Michigan State face off. However, in terms of celebrations, the SEC’s Georgia–Florida Football Classic in Jacksonville, FL this weekend will be drawing fans near and far to “DUUUVAL” for what was once well-known as The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. The teams and the city have since eschewed that moniker, giving rise to the “River City Showdown” and “War of the Oar,” among others, but generally it’s known as the Florida-Georgia or Georgia-Florida game, depending on who the home team is that year.
This year, the undefeated Bulldogs are the home team and Stetson Bennett, Brock Browers and crew are expected to soundly defeat Anthony Richardson and the Orange and Blue. However, intense rivalry matchups can sometimes be unpredictable, which will only amplify the hum of excitement generated by the throngs of cross-border rivals that will converge on the city on the St. Johns River starting Thursday.
Adding to the contention between these two storied franchises, even the year of the first matchup is debated. According to the University of Georgia‘s Athletic Department, the first game between the two schools was held in 1904 in Macon, Georgia, with the Bulldogs coming out on top, 52-0. This is disputed by the Gators because the University of Florida, as we know it now, wasn’t officially formed until the Florida state legislature consolidated its public universities in 1905. Therefore, according to UF, the first Florida-Georgia matchup was in 1915 in Jacksonville. The Dawgs still shutout the Gators 37-0 with Florida not winning until their 8th matchup (7th for UF) in 1928.
Both teams have had their winning streaks over the years and it’s always a momentous matchup for fans on both sides of the Florida-Georgia state line. Since 1933, the game has been held in Jacksonville on neutral territory (with the exception of 1994 and 1995) as it is the largest city between the two campuses to accommodate the swell of revelers. The game even has its own hall of fame that holds an induction ceremony over the weekend to honor two players from each team. The city of Jacksonville Sports and Entertainment Office established the hall of fame in 1995 “to acknowledge the many great records, performances, career highlights and outstanding memories that have made the Georgia-Florida game one of college football’s best traditions.” This year’s inductees include Georgia’s John Little and Champ Bailey and Florida’s Andre Caldwell and Trey Burton.
Over the years, the showdown between these two storied football programs has produced moments that have echoed through time and become a part of each team’s rich history. Will this year’s game add to the lore? After all, in 1985, the Gators came to Jacksonville undefeated and #1 in the nation for the first time in the school’s history. The year prior, they beat Georgia 27-0 to secure their first-ever SEC Title. This game would not go as well for UF. Georgia soundly defeated the #1 team, 24-3, ending Florida’s hopes that year for another title. In 2002, the 5-3 Gators beat the 8-0, #4-ranked, Bulldogs, ruining their perfect season in a stunning upset. Could the Gators once again pull an upset and triumph over the currently undefeated, reigning 2021 National Champions? Unlikely – but there’s a certain kind of magic in the mystery of the matchup.
When one thinks of the Bulldogs’ 1980 Championship team, legend Herschel Walker is probably the first player that comes to mind. But it was during the 1980 game at the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville that another star rose to save the season. Arguably one of the best plays in college football history occurred during a Florida-Georgia weekend and helped to secure Georgia’s first-ever National Championship Title in 1980. Known as “Run Lindsay, Run!” (or as I was instructed by the legendary ball-carrier Lindsay Scott himself, “Munson really only ever said Run Lindsay!“), the pass from QB Buck Belue to WR Lindsay Scott and Scott’s ensuing 92-yard run saved Vince Dooley‘s #2 Bulldogs’ perfect season and allowed them to press on and win the 1980 National Championship. The undefeated Dawgs were trailing by one point (21-20) with one minute and 35 seconds left in the game facing third and long on their own 8-yard line. Belue threw a high pass to Scott who ran the football down the sideline 92 yards to score and win the game. The televised moment was made truly iconic due to long-time Georgia announcer Larry Munson‘s call of the play.
Buck back. Third down on the 8. In trouble. Got a block behind him. Going to throw on the run. Complete to the 25, to the 30. Lindsay Scott 35, 40. Lindsay Scott 45, 50, 45, 40. Run Lindsay! 25, 20, 15, 10, 5. Lindsay Scott! Lindsay Scott! Lindsay Scott!
Well, I can’t believe it. 92 yards and Lindsay really got in a footrace. I broke my chair. I came right through a chair. … This is incredible! You know this game has always been called the world’s greatest cocktail party. … Do you know what is going to happen here tonight? … Man is there gonna be some property destroyed tonight!
26 to 21, Dawgs on top! We were gone. I gave up, you did too. We were out of it and gone. Miracle!
Across the years, during the highs and lows of these two legendary football programs, the city of Jacksonville has borne witness to gridiron greatness and this year’s game will be no different. If you’re going to Duval, make sure to find our GameDay Auctions booths at the Hall of Fame Luncheon, during the block party surrounding the Exhibition Baseball game on Friday and in the stadium at the game on Saturday. Find more information about the schedule of events HERE.
Regardless of which team you cheer for, find autographed memorabilia celebrating legends like Nick Chubb, Herschel Walker, Buck Belue, Lindsay Scott, Jordan Davis, Tim Tebow, Emmitt Smith, Steve Spurrier and Danny Wuerffel plus current stars Stetson Bennett, Brock Bowers, Anthony Richardson, and more. Do you have a favorite Florida-Georgia/Georgia-Florida showdown year or moment? Let us know in the comments!
Can’t make it to the game? Just for reading our blog, save an extra 10%* now when you shop SportsCollectibles.com with promo code GAFL2022 through 10/31/22! Shop autographed jerseys, autographed footballs, signed full-size Riddell Speed Replica and Authentic Helmets, autographed photos, autographed mini helmets and more today. Also be sure to check out our custom jersey and photo framing options to make your autographed collectibles museum-worthy!
You can also find our GameDay Auctions booths at every Georgia Bulldogs and Florida Gators home football game the rest of this season. For more information on where to find our Georgia GameDay Auctions booths at Sanford Stadium in Athens, click HERE. Get more details on where to find us at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, aka The Swamp, in Gainesville by clicking HERE. Thanks for reading! We’ll see you at the game!
Speaking of JACKSONville, this post IS brought to you by Sports Collectibles Blog Dog Jackson!
– Jackson is a rescue dog born and raised in Florida. He loves watching NFL football with his pop-pop and college football with his GiGi when he visits her in Ohio. This weekend he will be cheering on both teams although he might lean a bit toward the Gators. His mama is the Team Lead for GameDay Auctions at the University of Georgia (and has become an adopted Georgia Bulldogs fan herself) so he gets jealous of the Uga stuffed animals that she brings home and hates when she has to travel to Athens for the football games. But he also gets EXTRA EXCITED when she comes home from a trip so he doesn’t mind it too much. He won’t be in Jacksonville this weekend but looks forward to his next opportunity to blog!