ATHENS, Ga. -- The photos hang throughout Georgia's locker room. They show Florida coach
Georgia players probably should be madder, but most consider the rub-it-in timeouts a fair retaliation for their own full-team stomp in the end zone in 2007. "They won," quarterback
Georgia needs no extra motivation this week. The Bulldogs, already with three losses and beset on all sides by critics, understand perfectly that they're playing a potential season-maker in Jacksonville on Saturday. That's why Georgia, coming off a bye week and armed with the knowledge of Florida's flaws that Arkansas and Mississippi State recently exposed, might be the season's most dangerous 17-point underdog.
"We're not going to the national championship," safety
Those words probably bounce off anyone who has only followed the series recently. Since 1990, Florida has gone 16-3 against Georgia. But to older Gators, who for decades watched the Bulldogs spoil their SEC title dreams, Georgia remains always dangerous. "There are ghosts," said
Those seeking spooky parallels need not look back too far. If anything, the run-up to this meeting is the mirror image of the run-up to the 2005 edition of the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. Consider the similarities.
In 2005, Florida had an open date heading into the Georgia game. Undefeated and No. 4-ranked Georgia was coming off a closer-than-it-should-have-been win against Arkansas. In 2009, Georgia enjoyed the open date. Undefeated and No. 1-ranked Florida, meanwhile, is coming off a closer-than-it-should-have-been win at Mississippi State.
In 2005, Florida suffered a 21-17 loss at LSU two weeks before the Georgia game. In the fourth quarter of that loss, Florida failed to advance the ball past its own 30-yard line on four possessions. Meyer shed tears in his postgame press conference, and in the aftermath, offensive coordinator
In 2005, Florida coaches were lampooned during the two weeks of Georgia preparation. Mullen and offensive line coach
In 2009, Bobo, Georgia offensive line coach
In 2005, Meyer and his staff overhauled Florida's offensive scheme and used a limited playbook that played to the strengths of the Gators' few healthy playmakers. The result was a 14-10 upset of the Bulldogs that took the heat off the first-year coaching staff. In 2009, Richt and his assistants have remained quiet about any schematic changes. They do have inspiration, though. Mississippi State gave teams a clinic on how to handle Florida's offense, and a week earlier Arkansas managed to squeeze off a few big plays against the Gators' usually impenetrable defense.
The one major difference between Florida in 2005 and Georgia in 2009 is that while Bulldogs starting quarterback
Whether Martinez can dial up a defense that can repeat that feat remains a nagging question. Tennessee's Crompton threw for a career-high 310 yards and four touchdowns against the Bulldogs. The Gators haven't shown much of a downfield passing game, but neither had Tennessee until it faced Georgia.
For his part, Martinez has ignored the criticism lobbed his way. "It doesn't bother me," said Martinez, who traveled to Frostproof, Fla., last week to assure Georgia recruit
Like Robey, Martinez's players have heard the complaints. Cornerback
So while the Bulldogs would love to spoil Florida's dream of an undefeated season, that isn't their primary objective this week. It's been a long couple of months in Athens, and Georgia players and coaches desperately want to offer proof they can solve their myriad issues. The defensive backs want to prove Martinez's worth. The offensive line wants to match Searels' intensity. The quarterbacks, running backs and receivers want to celebrate touchdowns with Bobo on the sideline.
"We need a win for our season," Cox said. "We're not worried about what they finish up doing or if they can make it to a championship game. We want to win this game for us, because we need it."