A Party Goin’ On

Florida vs. Georgia
SEC Game of the Week
November 1st at 3:30 ET on CBS

by Bob Epling
(article originally appeared in 10.28.08 Game Day Weekly)

“There’s a party goin’ on right here, a celebration to last throughout the years … Celebrate good times, come on!”
(Kool and the Gang, 1980)

Who’ll celebrate like Kool this time?

In that great party song from 1980, Robert “Kool” Bell and his Gang, sang of a celebration to last throughout the years.

Well, after their first touchdown in this border battle last season, the Georgia Bulldogs celebrated and had a good time.

Video clips of the Georgia team streaming onto the field and turning the Gator Bowl into a 70,000 seat disco are seared into the minds of Dogs and Gators alike.

The celebration was a defining moment of the 2007 college football season, propelling Georgia to a 42-30 win over Florida, and catapulting the Dogs to an eventual Sugar Bowl berth and #2 national end-of-the season ranking.

That celebration will last throughout the years.

Florida won’t forget. Georgia doesn’t want to.

Let the 2008 party begin.

Florida comes into the game with the momentum of a runaway Mack truck.

The Gators hung 63 points on a previously flinty Kentucky defense, and scored the same way lightning strikes, suddenly and dangerously.

Quarterback Tim Tebow ran for two scores, passed for two more, and spent the fourth quarter doing his own celebration dance on the sideline, swaying to the Florida pep song “We are the Boys” with his offensive compatriots.

The Gators blocked more kicks than a soccer goalie.

William Green blocked the first Kentucky punt. Seconds later, touchdown Gators. Jeff Demps blocked the second Kentucky punt. Seconds later, touchdown Gators. Just so Lones Sieber, the Kentucky place-kicker did not feel left out, Joe Haden blocked a field goal in the second half.

Florida looks ready for a party.

Georgia does too.

The Bulldogs come into the game fresh from blasting LSU 52-38 on the bayou.

Offensively, the Dogs are as balanced as a circus high-wire walker.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford passed for 249 yards and two touchdowns, and added a rushing TD. Tailback Knowshon Moreno broke the Tigers with his tackle-breaking 68-yard touchdown run late in quarter three (part of his 163 yards on the ground). Freshman star WR A.J. Green hauled in a 49 yard touchdown throw.

Georgia dials long distance more than the phone company.

In the LSU game, the offense rang up four plays of more than 40 yards, and the defense chipped in two more (40 and 53 yard interception returns for touchdowns by LB Darryl Gamble). Freshman kicker Blair Walsh also boomed a 50 yarder to get in on the act.

Even with all the fireworks, the young Georgia offensive line made perhaps the boldest statement. A group that includes two true freshmen, a redshirt freshman, and two sophomores held their own against the seasoned, deep, and ballyhooed LSU defensive front.

Unlike Florida, however, Georgia’s performance did leave room for concern.

The Georgia and LSU defenses played like they wanted to be in the Big 12 for a week.

Combined, the defenses allowed 90 points and 940 yards. Georgia surrendered 38 points and 497 yards to the Tigers, with 218 of those yards coming in the fourth quarter and the Dogs protecting a 21-point lead.

Georgia supporters will read those statistics and blame a conservative approach in trying to nurse a big lead. Doubters will question the ability of the Dogs to put teams away when they have the chance.

In determining which team celebrates Saturday, two keys are crucial.

Can Georgia cope with Florida’s speed?

The Gators will not hammer anybody physically, but they are swift enough to carve up teams like a Halloween pumpkin.

Can Florida handle Georgia’s terrific offensive trio?

The triple threat of Stafford, Moreno, and Green must provide scary thoughts for Gator defenders and coaches.

Regardless of the outcome, this game is a pure SEC classic.

So … celebrate and have a good time!

Game Ball: Georgia

Georgia Quote: “More than likely the winner of the game will go to Atlanta.” Bulldog head coach Mark Richt on the importance of the Georgia-Florida game.

Florida Quote: “It (the UGA celebration) will forever be in the mind of Urban Meyer and in the mind of our football team.” Gator head coach Urban Meyer in his book Urban’s Way.

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