Jacksonville Sports News, Sam Kouvaris - SamSportsline.com

Gators/Dogs: End of an Era?

Georgia looked cool in the black pants and black helmets. “I saw that in warm-ups,” Tim Tebow said after the game, “and I said, ‘who cares.'” The Bulldogs have tried to change their luck in a variety of ways, but it looks like the only thing that will work is the eligibility of Tebow to run out.

Florida’s 41-17 win is their 17th in the last 20 years and completes a two-decade run of domination started when Steve Spurrier became the head coach of the Gators. Through three coaches at both schools, Ray Goff, Jim Donnan and Mark Richt at Georgia, Spurrier, Ron Zook and Urban Meyer at Florida, the outcome has been the same: Florida has been the favorite and it’s been an upset if Georgia wins.

While I believe that’s over, it does bear inspection.

Spurrier disliked Georgia from his days as a player and focused on that game more than any other. “It’s played in the Gator Bowl, it’s in Florida and we drive and they fly,” he said about the Florida/Georgia game at his introductory press conference in 1990. While he changed the way college football is played, he especially enjoyed running the score up on the Bulldogs. The time out/flea-flicker in Athens is one of the most despicable, un-sportsmanlike things I’ve ever seen.

“Aw Sammy, they’ll get over it,” Spurrier told me after that game.

Zook was given the boot, but beat Georgia when he wasn’t supposed to. Urban Meyer has taken this game seriously, and of course, he has Tim Tebow. Tebow is the perfect quarterback for Meyer’s spread offense, but more importantly, he puts so much pressure on the defense as a guy who can run that he opens things up for everybody else.

“I love winning this game,” Tim said afterwards. “It’s been a great experience to win on that field.”

With eighteen carries for 85 yards, Tebow kept an already reeling Georgia defense off balance. Combine that with his two early touchdown passes and he’s a one man wrecking crew.

Save for about 2 minutes after they scored a touchdown to make it 14-10, I never got the feeling that Georgia thought they could win the game. As long as 15 was in the game in Orange and Blue, the Bulldogs knew he’d do something to beat them. But that’s now over. Tim’s not coming back and defenses are starting to figure out the spread offense. Gator fans are going to need to get used to competitive games again against teams like Tennessee, LSU and yes, Georgia.

Georgia needs to get their act together and be competitive in this game again. And being competitive in this game also means contending for the SEC East title. They have a big time player in AJ Green but need a consistent quarterback and somebody to be a big play guy on defense. There’s a lot of rumbling in the ‘Dog Nation about Richt being loyal to a fault, so look for some staff changes in the off-season.

Florida’s win combined with South Carolina’s loss to Tennessee puts them in the SEC Title game in Atlanta. But they still have four games left in the regular season, all of which they’ll be a favorite in. Here’s where the challenge is: if the goal is always to “get to Atlanta” as Meyer says, once that’s accomplished can you shift focus to actually thinking about the National Championship?

It’ll be an interesting coaching challenge for all of those guys in Gainesville.