As Florida and Georgia prepare to meet on Saturday in Jacksonville, memories of games past are sure to resurface. On this day 10 years ago, a top-10 matchup between the schools lived up the hype.
Georgia never trailed in the contest, but Florida was knocking on the doorstep to try to tie the game. A late fumble ultimately resulted in the Gators’ doom as Georgia prevailed, 17-9.
Setting the Stage
One of the biggest surprises in the country, Florida was 7-0 and ranked No. 2 in the BCS standings as it arrived at EverBank Field on Oct. 27, 2012. Led by second-year head coach Will Muschamp, a Georgia alum, the Gators had already knocked off three ranked teams and had won 18 of the last 22 against the Bulldogs.
After a blowout loss to South Carolina to open the month of October, Georgia was coming off a hard-fought win over Kentucky. At 6-1, the Bulldogs were ranked No. 10 in the BCS standings. Georgia had topped Florida 24-20 the year prior and was looking for consecutive wins over the Gators for the first time since the late-1980s.
Reed’s Fumble Seals Georgia Win
It took Georgia less than three minutes to find the end zone. Following a fumble from Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel, Todd Gurley rushed for a 10-yard touchdown to give the Bulldogs a 7-0 lead. From there, the teams combined for just one touchdown.
On two occasions, Florida pulled to within one, but Aaron Murray’s 45-yard touchdown pass to Malcolm Mitchell midway through the fourth quarter gave the Bulldogs some breathing room. Trailing 17-9 and needing a touchdown and 2-point conversion, Florida looked primed to get in the end zone.
With a balanced attack, the Gators methodically moved from their own 26-yard-line to the red zone while taking five minutes off the clock. With just over two minutes to go, Florida looked as though it may score. On a pass from Driskel, tight end Jordan Reed made the catch and then one defender miss.
At he made his way inside the 5, Reed left his feet and Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones was able to strip the football. It rolled into the end zone and the Bulldogs recovered with 2:05 remaining. A pair of personal foul penalties on the ensuing Georgia drive would end any chance of Florida getting the ball back.
The contest was hardly a thing of beauty as the teams combined for nine turnovers, including six for Florida. Both were held to fewer than 300 total yards. Gurley rushed for 118 yards in the win.
Box score and recap:
For the remainder of the regular season, neither team lost as both finished 11-1. The head-to-head victory ultimately decided the East division and sent Georgia to the SEC Championship.
The Bulldogs would suffer a hard-fought loss to eventual national champion Alabama before defeating Nebraska in the Citrus Bowl. Florida fell to Louisville in the Sugar Bowl.
Both teams would finish in the top 10, but for another year, Georgia held bragging rights over its rivals. It did so with the help of a late turnover that came on this day a decade ago.
Featured image courtesy of Georgia athletics