No. 4 Georgia hosted No. 8 Florida on Nov. 7 for the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. The Gators had previously played a game against the Missouri Tigers the previous week after being off for three weeks due to half of the team coming down with COVID-19, postponing two of their games against the LSU Tigers and the Missouri Tigers. The LSU game was moved back to Dec. 12, and the Missouri Tigers game was moved back to Oct. 31.
The Florida Gators defeated the Bulldogs 44 – 28 to take control of the SEC East and putting themselves in position to reach the SEC Championship game on Dec. 19 at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia—which they did.
In each of the past three years, Georgia defeated Florida to clinch the SEC East. The 2020 season has been vastly different, featuring only conference games due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Both Florida and Georgia had one loss coming into the game. Georgia had a loss against Alabama, and Florida had a loss against Texas A&M. So, the game on Nov. 7 between the Gators and the Bulldogs would decide the SEC East division. The Bulldogs were the favors going into the matchup.
This telling of the 2020 Florida Gators vs. the Georgia Bulldogs in Jacksonville, Florida, at the world’s largest cocktail party based on one person’s accounts at home and five people who were there in varying capacities (journalists, fans, and team employees).
Karixza Luna, football fan: This was my first Florida-Georgia game that I attended. I was a little disappointed due to the limited capacity due to COVID-19. There was no tailgating, and it wasn’t the same overall experience or atmosphere in years past that I viewed from TV.
Dylan Denmark, UF student: We walked into the stadium about 2:30 p.m. literally nobody was there. The environment felt like how it was for a Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp game, like a minor league game.
William Newlin, Red and Black beat reporter: I was inside the press box. And it was pretty empty. For a while, there wasn’t a lot going on. What was interesting was walking in. I heard stuff over the PA system. They’re talking about the election results coming in. Then there were announcements being made about COVID-19 protocols, saying you’re assuming your own risk coming to this game, which was just a very interesting atmosphere. It’s pretty quiet inside the stadium up until maybe 30 to 45 minutes before game time, and then it started filling up.
Griffin Callaghan, Red and Black beat reporter: I have a monitor that I have set up at my desk. So, when I cover games, whether they’re away or home, and I’m not able to be there, for whatever reason, I’ll have the game set up on the monitor here, and I’ll have my laptop below me. And I’ll be, you know, tweeting throughout the game, taking notes, writing on it, and then depending on what kind of story we have to have out at the end of the game, that kind of varies.
Kelly Chase, UF student photographer: Pregame consists of both teams warming up. Your head is on a swivel the whole time watching out for wide receivers in the end zone, the special teams practicing punting/kicking, not getting in coaches’ way, etc. While we photographers are required to stay on the sideline, it still is exciting to be down on the field.
Evan Michael, UF student photographer: I was shooting from the stance in the first row. It was an eerie feeling because there weren’t many people there and all the empty seats, but it still had a rivalry feel with the Bulldogs and Gators fans that were there. There are three or four photons right up against the wall in the endzone. So, I was up there taking pictures for pregame and had a good view of where the Gators ran out of the tunnel.
Chase: I was assigned to run cards. Running cards means you are constantly walking around the field, and if a huge play happens (like a pick-six or touchdown), you need to head towards that end of the field. If you aren’t already there, pick up cards from those on those corners (they have secondary SD cards they use while I have theirs), and run it into the media workroom and upload them to our system.
Chase: I found out at the beginning of the first quarter that our staff is shooting not only for Florida but also for Georgia.
Newlin: In the first quarter, I was thinking Georgia wasn’t going to be able to keep up with Florida. And when Zamir White gets that 80-yard touchdown on the first play. It was like, Okay, let’s strap in. This is going to be a crazy game. And you could see the elation on Georgia fan faces.
Michael: Georgia fans were being really obnoxious, really excited, obviously. It’s like, Oh, here we go again as we have to deal with Georgia fans being annoying like they usually are.
Denmark: Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint had a gruesome injury that can mess with people’s minds. There were only 11 and a half minutes. It was still really early in the first quarter. After the injury, Florida gets a touchdown and makes it 14-7. We tie them at 14. I remember we pretty much ran away with it after that.
Michael: Overall, the shooting was fine. The weather was kind of weird. I had to play with my settings a lot because the clouds are going in and out. And then it rained a little bit too, so I had to kind of like adjust to that as well in the first quarter.
Newlin: After the first quarter, it was tied 14 all, and people were talking in the press box like this is going to be a 56 to 56 game this is going to be absolutely insane.
Chase: Second quarter felt like forever. It started to rain, and none of the cameras had rain gear.
Luna: The Gators flipped the switch in the second quarter as they ran up the score to 38 points scoring three touchdowns and a field goal before halftime. You could see the momentum change.
Newlin: Georgia, they are looking good. And they kind of just fall apart towards the end of the half. Jake Camarda comes in the punter. He’s ranked number one in the NCAA for most of the season. And he shanks it out of bounds. Florida gets the ball back past midfield and just go right down and score with 11 seconds left in the half to go up. I think it was by 17. And that was really the nail in the coffin for Georgia going down by 17 at the half.
Callaghan: When the momentum started to turn in that game, before halftime, Florida took over the game. I missed the big momentum shifts like that in football from watching on TV because you see all the players on the sideline, getting into it, you know, they’re running up and down with their teammates.
The score at halftime was Florida 38 and Georgia 21
Newlin: It was weird how all these games are not having a halftime show, and that kind of impact the band. There was no band at all for either side.
Luna: Florida and Georgia played both their team songs during halftime since the band wasn’t there, and I found it cute how all the fans of both teams sung along to their team’s song.
Chase: The third quarter was a blur. It stopped raining, and there were not as many consecutive touchdowns.
Denmark: I remember the beginning of the third quarter. We had 300 something yards. Georgia had only had like 30 yards if you don’t include those first two drives.
Newlin: Stetson throws an interception like five minutes into the third quarter. They bring in D’Wan Mathis, who has taken a couple of snaps since week one. Mathis does a decent job. He kind of changed the energy level. He put up Georgia’s longest drive of the afternoon when he came in. But he’s not a playmaker, just like Bennett isn’t.
Luna: Georgia ended scoring one touchdown, but they couldn’t keep up to catch up to Florida’s huge lead.
Newlin: Georgia’s defense played a ton better in the third quarter. I mean, Florida had scored on like seven of nine possessions in the first half. And then they only got two field goals in the second half.
Chase: I was able to slow my roll during the 4th quarter. There was a high chance the Gators were going to win, and we had several touchdowns that were great plays.
Newlin: The fourth quarter seemed like it took an eternity. You had longer drives four-to-five-minute drives. That didn’t pan out. There were fewer explosive plays on both sides, especially on the Florida side. I don’t know, eight minutes, maybe six minutes left in the game. And you see Georgia fans leaving the stands. They were leaving all sad, and the Florida students’ section was right behind the end zones, cheering them on and doing the chomp.
Florida defeated Georgia 44-28 taking control of the SEC East.
Luna: It was a good experience overall. I would like to attend another Florida-Georgia game in the future.
Callaghan: I feel like I missed a lot of the small things you pick up when you’re at a game because a lot of time, the press box at the stadium is close enough to where you can hear things on the field.
Michael: It was just cool to see them finally get over the hump and beat Georgia. Multiple players went up and sat with the fans and gave the fans high fives and everything. But whenever Kyle Trask had his interview with CBS on the side of the field, Richard came up and gave him a big hug.
Chase: In one word: electric. Everyone knew in the back of their head if we beat Georgia, there was a high chance we were winning the SEC East.