ATHENS – Two years ago, Georgia had all the momentum heading into Jacksonville. So much so that Las Vegas installed the Bulldogs as an 11.5-point favorite, the most they have ever been favored against Florida the past two decades.
Any bettors who took a flyer on the underdog made money. Florida won by 18.
“This game’s always different,” said Georgia center Brandon Kublanow, who was a sophomore that year. “A lot of things always happen. It gets chippy. But it’s an exciting game it’s good experience, and I’m excited for it.”
This time, Georgia goes in as the heavy underdog: 7.5 points according to the Vegasinsider.com line Thursday afternoon. So Georgia fans are hoping the Jacksonville jinx kicks in again.
Everyone likes to say that funky things happen when Georgia and Florida meet. But how funky? The betting lines tell the tale.
Since 1996 – the year the game returned to Jacksonville after a two-year stint at each school’s home campus – here’s the breakdown:
Florida was favored 14 times. Florida won 11 of those games, covering the spread nine times.
Georgia was favored six times. Georgia won three of those games, and only covered the spread twice.
But this is the first time since 2009 that Florida has been favored by a touchdown or more. Actually, the Gators were favored by at least that much every year from 2006-09, and won three of those times, covering the spread twice:
- 2009: Florida won, 41-17, after being favored by 16.5.
- 2008: Florida won, 49-10, after being favored by 7.5.
- 2006: Florida won, 21-14, after being favored by 13.5.
But in 2007, Georgia was a 7-point underdog and pulled off the 42-20 upset. That was the infamous (in Gainesville) game in which Georgia celebrated after its first touchdown and ended up kicking off from its own 10.
Georgia was also a 6-point underdog in 2012, and pulled off the upset, 17-9.
Georgia’s biggest surprise win, according to the spread, was in 1997, when it was a 20.5-point underdog and instead won by basically that many, 37-17.
“Nobody expected or gave us a chance in that game,” said Kirby Smart, a safety on that Georgia team, who now has a different role with the program. “I think we were — I don’t know what we were underdog wise, but we were able to run the ball, control the line of scrimmage; and they had some turnovers and it opened some things up. I think they also had some injuries that day. They had some guys beat up, and Robert (Edwards) and those guys ran the ball well.”
This year is “a little different scenario,” according too Smart, as the two teams are a little more closely matched.
But with Florida still the clear favorite, does that mean all the pressure is on the Gators? Can the Bulldogs play like they have nothing to lose?
“I wouldn’t say so,” Kublanow said. “It means a lot to a lot of guys down here to go down there and beat Florida. It’s a huge rivalry for us so we want to get ready and we want to be down there and be ready for them.”