There Will Be A Game Saturday At EverBank Field, Despite Lack Of Interest

Memo to the Florida Gators football team: Don’t bother going to Jacksonville on Saturday.

Just drop by the U.S. Post Office and mail it in.

You don’t think for a minute the 92nd (or is it 93rd?) Florida-Georgia game is going to make any difference in the SEC standings, do you?

So cut the No. 3 Bulldogs a little slack. They’ve got their dance card filled for a trip to Atlanta and a date in Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Dec. 2 for the SEC Championship Game against No. 1 Alabama.

The Gators could save them some time by just scratching Saturday’s game.

Not a lot of people are giving coach Jim McElwain and his 3-3 Florida Gators a chance against 7-0 Georgia this Saturday.

Apparently, nobody in Florida cares about the Gators or the Seminoles anymore.

Who says so? Well, the critics for one. Orlando Sentinel columnist Mike Bianchi even wants to kick ’em while they’re down, as suggested in his column:

“Due to lack of interest,” writes Bianchi, “can we please just cancel the Florida-Florida State game? Seriously, haven’t we suffered enough bad football?”

It would be disrespecting Rodney Dangerfield to invoke his “I Don’t Get No Respect” mantra on these 2017 Gators. They don’t even deserve the respect of “no respect.”

Even the Wise Guys in Las Vegas give the Gators no shot. The 14-point line makes Florida the biggest underdog in this game in 32 years. Odd Shark’s offshore handicappers make Georgia an even bigger favorite at 14.5 points.

Coach Kirby Smart and his No. 3 Georgia Bulldogs are walking tall with their 4-0 SEC East start.

Gator fans, you can’t handle the truth: Florida stinks. The Gators should not be allowed on the same field with the Bulldogs for fear that the stench will rub off on Kirby Smart’s team.

Once hailed as “The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party,” maybe this colorful, storied jubilee/festival should be re-labeled as “The World’s Largest Outdoor Shame Game” if it turns out like some expect it will.

Older Gators can remember what it was like in 1968 when Ray Graves made the panic move of flip-flopping his coordinators for the Georgia game and then watched the Bulldogs pound them into submission during a rainstorm, 51-0.

That kind of “shame.”

Yeah, it’s looking hopeless, right? So there goes all that great leap-frogging momentum gained when the Gators made up for lost ground by winning 11 out of 12 under Steve Spurrier.

Or is this one of those games that causes a team to rise up out of humiliation, embrace the challenge and put forth a super-human effort in hopes of the upset?

Between the two teams, there is a talent gap that suggests Georgia is just too good to be caught by surprise. Florida’s talent has been further drained by an injury deficit. Without adequate offensive weaponry, it’s foolish to suggest the Gators could possibly win straight up, or perhaps even compete. Especially behind the wheel of a virtual offensive sluggard.

On the other hand, quarterback Jake Fromm has never played in a Florida-Georgia game, although he has reeked with composure in his freshman year. But a sharp bevy of ball-hawking defenders lurks in Florida secondary and will be capable of showing Fromm unfamiliar coverages that might cause trouble.

Randy Shannon’s ground defense is about to be assaulted by a Panzer Division of Bulldog running backs, led by Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. There have been times when the Gator run defense has been stellar, but that was with a full complement from the front seven, including now-injured defensive end Jordan Sherit.

So why play the game?

As you no doubt discovered, my tongue was firmly planted in my cheek when I suggested the Gators not show up at EverBank Field on Saturday.

After all, this is Florida-Georgia, where miracles are made and the unexpected can be anticipated.

Things like these Larry Munson-isms, from the long-time voice of Georgia football: “Run Lindsay.” (1980)

“Good gawd, he’s (Herschel Walker) running over people!” (1981)

And from the Gators’ Vault: In 1984, from his own end zone, freshman walk-on quarterback Kerwin Bell hits Ricky Nattiel on a 96-yard touchdown pass, highlighting a 27-0 win over No. 8 Georgia.

Vince Dooley had put 51 points on his old Florida coach Ray Graves in 1968, so Steve Spurrier pays Georgia back by hanging 104 points on the Dawgs over two seasons, including the 1995 massacre Between the Hedges, 52-17. 

“It wasn’t that big of a deal at the time because Georgia people had already left the stadium,” Spurrier said. “Most of them didn’t even see it.”

Stuff like that happens in Florida-Georgia games, which must be decided on the field. That’s why they play them and don’t mail them in. Sorry to disrupt your itinerary, Bulldogs. But there will indeed be a layover in Jacksonville on your way to the SEC Championship Game.