Its been more than three decades since the Florida Gators had a senior class come and go without being able to say that they beat the Georgia Bulldogs. That is what Florida’s senior class faces when they step out on to Ever Bank Field in front of a perfectly split sea of red and blue on Saturday afternoon.
The stakes are always high. The passion and intensity of the game never in question when the Dawgs and Gators meet. But for the Florida Gators seniors, this is more than a game. This is an opportunity to redeem three years of futility and a chance to earn the right to say what 31 consecutive senior classes have been able to say; that they beat Georgia.
“As a senior, I really want to win this game,” senior offensive lineman and Georgia native Max Garcia said. “I don’t even care about the rest of the games if we when this game.”
Even though he’s not a senior, this could very well be the last time Dante Fowler Jr. plays Georgia and the moment isn’t lost on him.
“It’s really important, just to get a ‘W,’” he said. “Just to say that you beat Georgia. Got to beat them.”
There are still some players in the locker room that were on the field and remember when Chas Henry’s 37-yard filed goal split the uprights to give Florida a 34-31 win. It’s been a long, trying road for those members of the heralded 2010 recruiting class, one they never could have dreamed of when they signed on to play at the University of Florida.
“It’s been a crazy road for a lot of guys in my 2010 class. I think there’s about six of us, seven of us still here,” senior offensive tackle Chaz Green said. “Coming in, you know, [Urban Meyer] leaves after the first year, especially guys on the offensive side of the ball. It’s my fourth offensive line coach, third offensive coordinator, I think. It’s been a rough ride.”
Florida limps into the game trying to avoid a three-game losing streak and with their (mathematical) chances of winning the east still intact. Georgia comes in chugging along full-speed ahead, seemingly not even missing their once Heisman hopeful running back Todd Gurley. The Bulldogs have beat Missouri and Arkansas by a combined 48 points before enjoying a bye week. The Gators are a double-digit underdog and not many outside of the locker room in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium are even giving Florida a chance this weekend.
“Throw it out,” Jarrad Davis said. “It’s 0-0, we just started the season, this game. That’s what it feels like.”
The Gators players and coaches have called this one of the greatest rivalries in all of college football. Saturday they’ll step on the field and try to end a streak and for their head coach, maybe save a job.
“It’s a critical game,” Will Muschamp said. It’s an East rival. It’s an SEC rival. It’s a rival of the University of Florida. And it’s very important to our university.”