Yes ladies and gentlemen, it’s that time of year again. No, not the changing of the leaves. No, not Halloween although some folks will be dressing as tacky as possible and acting like idiots for this event. No, not even the much beloved hunting season. It is time for the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.
I know, I know we are supposed to stop using the real name for the annual Florida-Georgia rivalry. Every few years they come up with a new name and try to coerce the public into transitioning to this name in the interest of political correctness. This year it is something stupid like the River City Hoedown. Or Showdown or some such nonsense. It’s the Cocktail Party folks and if you don’t believe me just attend one of them. It is a true southern spectacle. People come early (and often). It is an event that starts becoming wild as early as Wednesday or Thursday. The streets are full of partying football fans. Folks come by car, truck, RV’s covered in their team’s insignia and even by boat in some cases.
The two key words in the traditional name are “Cocktail Party”. The term “alcohol might have been involved” is never more accurate than it is at this game. Fans wake up Saturday and begin drinking right away because other than the luxury boxes there is no alcohol available in the stadium for this game. So the fans try to preload their bodies with libations before the game. And then about half of them will try to smuggle their favorite elixir into the game. It takes some effort to pull that off. The people checking fans entering the stadium could teach the TSA at the airports a thing or two.
And then there is actually a football game. The Florida-Georgia game is one of those rivalries where the teams’ records coming into the game are irrelevant. The Vegas point spread is irrelevant. The previous four recruiting classes are irrelevant. There is no way to predict what will happen in this football game.
Florida comes into this game a touchdown favorite. That means nothing. Georgia will line up and try to run the ball down the Gators’ throat with Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. Florida will counter with one of the top defenses in college football and try to force the Bulldogs to put the game in the hands of true freshman quarterback Jacob Eason. Florida currently has the seventh best rushing defense in the country so there is a chance that the Gators can take away Georgia’s running game. Then Eason will have to carry the offense against the second best passing defense in the country. The Gators boast perhaps as many as three first round NFL draft picks in the secondary. Cornerbacks Quincy Wilson and Jalen Tabor are virtual locks to go in next year’s first round. Safety Marcus Maye might as well. Georgia’s offense has its work cut out for them.
However, the Florida offense has been sporadic at best. In my opinion this is where Georgia must win this game. I think Georgia will need to get their defense off the field as quickly as possible by holding the Gator offense in check and forcing some turnovers. I do not think the Bulldogs win this game without first winning the turnover battle unless Nick Chubb cranks out a Heisman Trophy type performance against a very stout Gator run defense.
If you are looking for early indicators of who is going to win the game just watch the two offensive lines. Both have struggled. Neither team’s offense will be successful if the O-line gets pushed around. In the first quarter watch the line of scrimmage. Whichever team is controlling the line of scrimmage early will most like leave Jacksonville with a win. This game may also be an early indicator of whether Georgia hired the next Nick Saban or the next Will Muschamp. So much fun. Go Gators.