Rivalries are truly one of the best parts of rooting for a football team. Trash talk, bragging rights, big (no, Major) hits and sometimes just pure hatred are all what make those heated matchups so entertaining for fans. The Florida-Georgia rivalry is certainly no exception, especially when both programs are top-10 teams playing for more than just bragging rights.
Stars like Matthew Stafford, AJ Green, Geno Atkins, Todd Gurley, Tim Tebow, Percy Harvin and Brandon Spikes have all played in this annual meeting in Jacksonville, so there’s been no shortage of talent showcased. But one thing is for sure: There’s no love lost between these two teams. The “World’s Largest Cocktail Party” may be one big party off the field, but it’s a slugfest inside the stadium. That being said, the top five moments from the rivalry over the last 15 years never disappoint.
Brandon Spikes Flattens Knowshon Moreno, 2008
File this under “Things you’d never see in today’s game.” Spikes hit Moreno so hard that I’m pretty sure there’s still a dent in the grass there to this day. He was so jacked up from the play that he had to be pulled off Moreno. This was also one of the first plays of the game, and it set the tone for the Gators. They went on to win this one 49-10.
“I think the tone was set early when Spikes hit Moreno,” Florida defensive coordinator Charlie Strong told ESPN. “The whole sideline erupted. Last year, he gashed us. Right then, you knew the statement was made that we weren’t going to let them run the football.”
Spikes’ hit did the trick. Moreno was held to just 65 yards on 17 carries in the convincing win.
Mike McNeely’s Fake Field Goal, 2014
No one in the stadium was expecting this Les Miles-type call, but Will Muschamp pulled it off to perfection. Down 7-0, the Gators could have settled for a chip shot field goal. Muschamp had other plans. Former walk-on wide receiver Mike McNeely took the snap and bolted his way by a couple key blocks into the end zone.
The trickery clearly jolted the Florida sideline. The Gators went on to rush for a whopping 419 yards en route to a 38-20 win. It was the first ever win as a coach or player in the rivalry for Will Muschamp, who played at Georgia.
Tim Tebow Breaks Herschel’s Record, 2009
Even better than a Gator breaking a Bulldog’s record is doing it against the Bulldogs. Tebow broke Walker’s Southeastern Conference record 49 career rushing touchdowns with his 50th on this run up the middle in a 41-17 drubbing of Georgia. The Jacksonville native finished with 57, which still stands as the SEC record. I wonder if he still has that ball.
Chas Henry Nails Overtime Field Goal, 2010
Henry wasn’t even a kicker. He was a punter and actually won the Ray Guy Award that year for the nation’s most outstanding punter. He was filling in for the injured Caleb Sturgis. That didn’t matter. Henry nailed the 37-yard field goal to net the Gators their first ever overtime win against the Bulldogs, 34-31.
But the absolute best part? Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham gave Henry a choking sign and yelled at Henry just moments before he went on to kick the game-winner. Later, Grantham became Florida’s defensive coordinator. Funny how things work out.
Urban Meyer Responds to Georgia’s “Gator Stomp” TD, 2008
In 2007, the Bulldogs sent their whole team out to the end zone to celebrate their first touchdown against the Gators in what was dubbed the “Gator Stomp.” It was odd. It was a joke. But…it worked. Georgia won, 42-30.
Well, UF beat UGA to a pulp the next year by a score of 49-10. You know, the same game that began with Brandon Spikes’ aforementioned truck stick. With less than a minute to go, though, head coach Urban Meyer called not one but two timeouts to really rub the victory in Mark Richt’s face. No way Meyer forgot what happened the year prior.