Florida Flashback Series: Remembering the Bulldog Stomp, Urban had something saved for the Dawgs
In the offseason between 2007 and 2008, strength and conditioning coach Mickey Marotti had two numbers in his head.
Forty-two, and one-hundred-eighty-eight.
At the time, the numbers represented reps in the weightroom -- 42 lifts at a station, and 188 pushups and crunches.
But the digits’ real meanings were born on October 27, 2007 in Jacksonville Municipal Stadium.
On third and goal, Georgia’s Knowshon Moreno dove over the ninth-ranked Florida Gators’ defensive line -- drawing first blood in 2007’s edition of the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.
A diving touchdown from Moreno wasn’t all that abnormal. But the chaos that followed was abnormal, even for the Florida-Georgia rivalry.
“Watch this for excessive celebration,” CBS’ Verne Lundquist said. “We might have 15 hankies in the air on this one.”
Meanwhile, on the field, the Bulldogs’ sideline had been cleared. And every player wearing silver pants was stomping around in the end zone.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever been more angry,” Urban Meyer told the SEC Network in 2019. “I kept grabbing our guys, I thought there was going to be a fight. I thought the benches were going to clear, and they probably should have.”
The Bulldogs were coming off of three weeks which saw them lose 35-14 to Tennessee, squeak past Vanderbilt 20-17 and prepare for the Gators with a bye week. Georgia’s Mark Richt knew his team needed motivation now more than ever.
“Again, I was expecting the 11 players on the field to be doing the celebrating, not for the bench to clear as it did,” Richt told ESPN afterwards. “I understand that the entire team running on the field created the potential for an altercation and that excessive celebration is not in compliance with the Southeastern Conference sportsmanship policies and expected standards. My only intention was to create enthusiasm.”
For the Bulldogs, the message of enthusiasm was signed, sealed and delivered.
Moreno rushed for 188 yards and three touchdowns that day, while quarterback Matthew Stafford tacked on three more passing touchdowns as Georgia danced past Florida 42-30.
One-hundred-eighty-eight. One pushup and crunch for every yard Moreno rushed.
Forty-two. One rep for every point the Bulldogs scored.
But was taking the loss on the chin and using it as motivation enough of a response? The short answer was no.
"That wasn't right. It was a bad deal,” Meyer said in Buddy Martin’s “Urban’s Way”. “And it will forever be in the mind of Urban Meyer and in the mind of our football team. ... So we'll handle it. And it's going to be a big deal."
Just as they were in 2007, the Gators entered the 2008 season with great expectations. Florida was just two years removed from its second national title and Tim Tebow was coming off of a Heisman-winning campaign from the season prior.
However, guarding the gates of an SEC title and an opportunity for their second national championship appearance in three years, the Gators had to get through the Bulldogs.
While the Florida-Georgia game is always circled months in advance for both squads, 2008 was different.
September 27, 2008 proved troublesome for the Gators and the Bulldogs after each of them lost conference games that day.
Coming into Jacksonville, Florida had a black eye in the form of Ole Miss, while Georgia’s took the shape of the Crimson Tide.
In 2008, the arms race for the SEC East title was as tight as it's ever been. Perhaps the difference was the motivation Florida had leading up to the contest.
The image of 70 Georgia players romping around in the end zone was burned into the minds of Gators players. And after a long offseason of workouts, there was no forgetting about it.
Just like the year prior, on November 1, the tone was set quickly.
On the second play of the game, Florida linebacker Brandon Spikes leveled Moreno and made sure that his presence was not only known, but was to be remembered.
From then on out, the Gators continued to capitalize on the Bulldogs’ mistakes.
Georgia kicker Blair Walsh missed two field goals, Moreno couldn’t haul in a go-ahead touchdown and Stafford threw an uncharacteristic three interceptions.
Meanwhile, Florida scored on four Georgia turnovers, Tebow was responsible for five touchdowns and Percy Harvin tallied two scores and 99 yards on just seven touches.
Georgia couldn’t stop the bleeding soon enough. And if Urban Meyer had anything to do with it, he’d let the Bulldogs bleed out completely.
With a 49-10 Gator lead, everyone on Florida’s side of the stadium had stuck around, while Georgia’s sideline had its back to empty, teal seats.
With under a minute to play and two timeouts in his back pocket, Meyer finished the football game his way. Milking the clock and allowing his team and its fans bask in the glory of a massive, top-10 rivalry win, Meyer called his final two timeouts.
Each time, Florida running back Emmanuel Moody ripped off huge chunks of yardage.
“The rules say you get three timeouts each half,” Richt said following the routing. “And they used two of them.”
Forty-two pushups. One-hundred-eighty-eight reps. And two timeouts.
Urban Meyer and the Gators handled it.