Florida vs. Georgia: Why the 'World's Biggest Cocktail Party' Matters in 2013
It has become one of the most heated rivalries in not only the SEC but the entire country. It's also a game that annually produces physical, rough-and-tumble football and plenty of talking points.
It's the yearly war between Florida and Georgia, and the action rages on this Saturday.
Although the game is usually more meaningful in terms of the national picture, the 2013 edition of the "World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party" still promises to be an exciting option for college football fans.
SEC East Positioning
Although Missouri appears to be in cruise control of the SEC East, there is still a small chance that either Georgia or Florida can make the conference championship game. In that regard, this game is an elimination contest.
If the Gators win, they control their own ability to capitalize should the Tigers falter. If they can be victorious in their final three conference games, they will make it to Atlanta if Missouri drops two of its own tilts.
Georgia didn't do itself any favors by losing to South Carolina, but it can still make a similar push if the dominoes all fall the correct way.
Both teams have been ravaged by injuries, and a run toward the SEC title game doesn't seem likely for either of them. However, a win in this game will keep that hope alive.
It's One of Aaron Murray's Final Marquee Regular-Season Games
Georgia's national championship hopes may have evaporated already, but Aaron Murray is still reason enough to watch this game.
Murray has beaten the Gators twice already, and he would like nothing more than to lead the Bulldogs to a third straight victory. Last season, he had one of his worst games as a college quarterback against Florida, throwing three interceptions in a tightly contested showdown. Although he came out on top, one has to think he remembers how poorly he played.
More importantly, he should be determined to redefine his overall legacy in this rivalry with a bounce-back performance.
In any case, Murray is the most prolific offensive player in SEC history, and this is one of his final college games. Against a depleted Gator defense, he could very well have an afternoon to remember.
It's Do or Die for the Gators
The Gators have been brutally ineffective the past two games. Now, as weird as it sounds, they are in realistic danger of missing a bowl game if they can't right the ship.
Thus, this game is of the utmost importance for Will Muschamp's squad.
At the risk of sounding overdramatic, Florida must win to salvage what has been a disastrous season. After two rough performances, Tyler Murphy is in dire need of a good game to build his confidence for the stretch run. Likewise, the Gator defense lost a lot of credibility and momentum in the loss to Missouri.
Simply put, the team is broken and needs a statement win. All of the Gators will likely bring their best this weekend, and that should lead to an amusing game.
It Should Be a Competitive Game
Unlike some of the other SEC rivalries, this one has actually been one of the most competitive examples.
The past three games in the series have been decided by a combined 15 points. One of them even went to overtime. Because these teams appear evenly matched once again, there's reason to believe that another instant classic is in the works.
Sure, there were the two games that Florida dominated during the Tim Tebow era. But in the six years prior to those 2008 and 2009 blowouts, five matchups were decided by seven points or less.
One of the reasons this series has been so memorable is simply how even these two teams have been since the turn of the millennium. Usually, the game doesn't come close to disappointing.
At the end of the day, though, nothing is more important than the personal pride and satisfaction associated with winning this game. That goes for both players and fans.
Still questioning just how much this game means? Just look at the infamous "Gator Stomp" of 2007 and Urban Meyer's response during the final minute in 2008. No matter the records or the circumstances, these two teams hate each other.
Florida fans have yet to forget how this game cost them a spot in the SEC title game in 2012. Likewise, Georgia fans would give anything to see their orange and blue adversaries in dismay once again.
This is more than football. It's raw emotion, and it's always on the line when these two squads meet.