Florida vs. Georgia: Who Really Has the Home-Field Advantage in Jacksonville?

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Florida vs. Georgia: Who Really Has the Home-Field Advantage in Jacksonville?
Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party between Georgia and Florida is a unique event that pits two rivals against each other in the middle of the season at a "neutral" site in Jacksonville, Fla.

The word "neutral" is in quotations, because you may have a hard time convincing some Georgia fans that EverBank Field is truly a neutral location.

Georgia's players must travel 363 miles from Sanford Stadium to EverBank Field, while the the Swamp is a mere 74.2 miles from the cocktail party.

Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
Florida and Georgia fans tailgate before the 2011 Cocktail Party

Fair?

Travel-wise, not at all.

Musician and noted Georgia fan Bubba Sparxxx, who used to perform the intro on ESPN's College GameDay (and still should), agrees.

It's a true road game for Georgia's players and game-day staff, which puts the Bulldogs at a competitive disadvantage.

Whether that's justification for Georgia's 4-18 record vs. the Gators over the last 22 years, that's up for debate. 

Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
Georgia hasn't won back-to-back games over Florida since it won three straight from 1987-89

But as far as fan support goes, it's as neutral as it gets.

The stadium is split 50/50 right down the center of the goal posts, and that ratio doesn't vary too much no matter how the season has gone for either football program.

Georgia fans have treated the game week as one last vacation to tie a bow on the summer before heading into the doldrums of the winter.

Don't believe me?

The late Larry Munson, who was the legendary voice of the Bulldogs for more than 42 years, referred to those "Dawg People" in his famous "Run, Lindsay, Run" call in the 1980 World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.

"Man, is there going to be some property destroyed tonight?"

Property damage aside, the fans for this game treat it more like a festival rather than a typical college football game.

Should the Georgia/Florida game stay in Jacksonville?

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That's the beauty of it and part of the reason it should stay in Jacksonville even past the current deal, which expires after the 2016 season.

Save for two meetings (1994 and '95), this game has been played in Jacksonville every year since 1933 and 76 times overall. In those games, Georgia holds a 41-37-1 advantage over the Gators. Granted, some of those teams were really bad Florida teams of the 1940s and '70s, but if home field made that much of a difference, the overall series record would reflect it.

It's certainly more accessible for Florida fans, but the game takes on more of a bowl game atmosphere, which is part of the reason that the rivalry is so unique.

Hopefully it will stay that way for a long time.

 

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