Rivalry renewed: Florida vs Georgia

The Florida-Georgia rivalry is one that has seen many twists and turns in its history.

From Brandon Spikes pummeling Knowshon Moreno on the opening drive to seemingly the entire Bulldogs roster coming to celebrate an early touchdown, there is no love lost between these two programs.

Georgia claimed last season’s matchup and leads the all-time series 47-40-2. Even that has a level of dissention, as the two programs disagree on a 1904 game that Georgia claims it won.

There is no question what is at stake as No. 2 Florida (7-0, 6-0 SEC) faces No. 10 Georgia (7-1, 5-1) Saturday at 3:30 p.m. in Jacksonville.

With a win, Florida will claim the SEC East and begin making travel arrangements to Atlanta for a matchup with the winner of the SEC West. If Georgia wins, it has the clearest path to SEC Championship Game, needing only to win its remaining conference games.

In a rivalry that needs no provocation, the stakes will only increase the atmosphere.

“When you come across that bridge there on the St. John’s River, if you’re blood’s not boiling, something’s wrong with you,” Gators coach Will Muschamp said.

Cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy, who forced two fumbles in Florida’s 44-11 win against South Carolina, had strong words for Georgia. He said the Gators took exception to last season’s meeting, a 24-20 win for the Bulldogs.

“There’s a lot of hate and anger going into that Georgia game,” he said. “It’s going to be tough for them. That’s all I can say.”

Purifoy and the Florida secondary will have the task of slowing Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray. Coming into the game, Murray is tied for third in the conference, averaging 273.4 yards per game through the air. His 16 touchdown passes are tied for most in the conference.

He was limited to 169 passing yards in last season’s meeting, but a pair of fourth-down touchdown passes brought the Bulldogs back from a 17-3 hole in the first half.

“Aaron Murray is an outstanding player,” Muschamp said. “Accurate with the football. Really good athlete. He’s got legs. He can make all the throws.”

In an altogether frustrating season, Muschamp said the game was one he felt his team should have won but could not finish. The loss serves as motivation this time around.

“We felt like it was a game we let slip away a little bit last year,” he said. “You have to give them some credit for the plays they made. We didn’t. I know our guys will be excited about it preparing for this week going to Jacksonville for this game.”

Purifoy offered a more pointed opinion: “That feeling in the locker room, it’s crazy when you lose to a team like that. They thought they were better than us.”

Having already redeemed two losses from last season with wins against LSU and South Carolina, the Gators have the chance to make it three-in-a-row against Georgia. A win would leave Florida State as the only remaining team on the schedule the Gators lost to last season.

More importantly, it would make the SEC Championship Game a reality and move the Gators closer to earning a trip to the national championship.

There are certainly games that make the adrenaline flow more than others, Muschamp said.

This is one of them.