Florida-Georgia rivalry has life again

June, 15, 2012
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Let’s face it, the Florida-Georgia rivalry had gotten boring.

Florida’s lopsided victories in the 1990s and relatively uneventful games in the early 2000s had turned what was once one of the most bitter rivalries in college football into just another game.

[+] EnlargeGeorgia touchdown
Palm Beach Post/ZUMA Press/Icon SMIThe entire Georgia team rushed the field after scoring the opening touchdown against Florida in 2007.
But things have heated up again over the past five years -- thanks in part to some questionable actions -- and now the rivalry between the SEC schools is as intense as ever. Players danced, eyes were almost gouged, and the infamous choke sign made an appearance.

Oh, yeah, and there’s the matter of Florida’s coach having played at Georgia, too.

Can’t wait to see what happens this year when the teams meet at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Fla., on Oct. 27.

THE INTENSITY IS BACK

Why has the Florida-Georgia rivalry heated up again? How about these five reasons:

The Gator Stomp -- Georgia’s players rushed the end zone to celebrate running back Knowshon Moreno’s 1-yard touchdown run nine minutes into the 2007 game. Georgia coach Mark Richt is partly responsible because he told the players before the game that he wanted to see them celebrate raucously when the Bulldogs scored. He didn’t mean on the field, but that’s what happened. It sparked the Bulldogs to a 42-30 victory.

Timeout -- UF’s players seethed for a year over the Gator Stomp, and apparently coach Urban Meyer did, too. Meyer used his two remaining timeouts in the game’s final minute -- with a 39-point lead. "Enjoy the moment, enjoy the game," quarterback Tim Tebow said after the 49-10 victory. "We’re still playing the game. We didn’t do anything wrong. We were just playing the game."

Eye gouge -- Video of UF linebacker Brandon Spikes allegedly trying to gouge the eyes of Georgia running back Washaun Ealey at the bottom of a pile in the 2009 game surfaced on YouTube the day after Florida’s 41-17 victory. Meyer suspended Spikes but said Spikes’ actions were in retaliation for things that happened earlier in the game, when he had his helmet ripped off by a Georgia player.

Choke -- Just moments before Chas Henry kicked the game-winning 37-yard field goal in overtime in 2010, TV cameras caught Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham giving Henry the "choke" sign.

Fourth down -- Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray threw two four-down touchdown passes to help the Bulldogs rally from a 17-3 deficit. He hit Michael Bennett for 20 yards on fourth-and-5 and Tavarres King for 14 yards on fourth-and-6. All that came after UF scored on a fourth-down pass of its own -- a 31-yarder from John Brantley to Jordan Reed.

Mike DiRocco | email

ESPN Jacksonville Jaguars reporter

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