History books reveal a trend among the best Georgia football teams and a so-so debut
Those that think they know quite a lot about Georgia football will be surprised to learn something about the Bulldogs in season openers, especially in the wee hours before Saturday’s big Top 10 kickoff with Auburn.
DawgNation took a lap around the history books this week to study how the best Georgia football teams performed in the first week of the season. What we found was pretty remarkable.
When looking at the last 15 teams in program history that went on to lose no more than two games dating back to 1960, we found the following truths about a “style points” victory in the season opener.
They certainly didn’t overachieve, especially against teams that didn’t have a lot of promise based on what they did the previous season.
That was a clear trend in the season opener for 12 of the 15 best Georgia football teams dating back to 1960.
That’s history telling us that a dominating Week 1 game means pretty much squat as a forecast for the rest of the season. Does that sound at all like last week’s 37-10 win at Arkansas that didn’t pass the sniff test for some?
That first-half showing against the Razorbacks might one day wind up in the same historical context as that 16-15 win at Tennessee in 1980. Or maybe even that 45-23 home win versus Buffalo in 2012.
Check it out below.
Georgia’s elite teams since 1960
(Qualifier: The seasons in which Georgia lost no more than two games)
- Game 1, 1959: Georgia 17, Alabama 3 (Tide finished 5-4-1 in 1958.) Final record: 10-1 🤨
- Game 1, 1966: Georgia 20, Miss. St. 17 (Miss. State was 4-6 in 1965.) Final record: 10- 1 🤨
- Game 1, 1971: Georgia 56, Oregon State 25 (OSU was 6-5 in 1970.) Final record: 11-1 🤨
- Game 1, 1976: Georgia 36, California 24 (Cal was 8-3 in 1975.) Final record: 10-2 🤨
- Game 1, 1980: Georgia 16, Tennessee 15. (Vols were 7-5 in 1979.) Final record 12-0 🤨
- Game 1, 1981: Georgia 44, Tennessee 0. (Vols were 5-6 in 1980.) Final record 10-2 👍️
- Game 1, 1982: Georgia 13, Clemson 7 (Clemson was 12-0 in 1981.) Final record 11-1 👍️
- Game 1, 1983: Georgia 19, UCLA 8 (UCLA was 10-1 in 1982.) Final record 10-1-1 👍️
- Game 1, 1992: Georgia 28, South Carolina 6 (SC was 3-6-2 in 1991.) Final record 10-2 🤨
- Game 1, 1997: Georgia 38, Arkansas St. 7 (Arkansas St. was 4-7 in 1996.) Final record 10-2 🤨
- Game 1, 2002: Georgia 31, Clemson 28 (Clemson was 7-5 in 2001.) Final record 13-1. 🤨
- Game 1, 2007: Georgia 35, Oklahoma St. 14 (Okla. St. was 7-6 in 2006.) Final record 11-2 🤨
- Game 1, 2012: Georgia 45, Buffalo 23 (Buffalo was 3-9 in 2011.) Final record 12-2 🤨
- Game 1, 2017: Georgia 31, App. St. 10 (App. State was 10-3 in 2016.) Final record 13-2 🤨
- Game 1, 2019: Georgia 30, Vanderbilt 6 (Vanderbilt was 6-7 in 2018.) Final record 12-2 🤨
- Game 1, 2020: Georgia 37, Arkansas 10 (Razorbacks were 2-10 in 2019.) Final record? 🤨
Source: UGA football media guide and sports-reference.com
This is what history tells us about the first games for what would be great Georgia football teams.
The last 60 years show a clear trend. The best Georgia teams often played an opponent that did not have a dominant record the season prior and did not achieve a satisfying “style points” win.
That was found to be true in 12 of the last 15 great seasons noted here.
Why does that happen? Here are a couple of theories:
- Theory #1: It is just one game. First games have proved to be a poor indicator of a future great Georgia team.
- Theory #2: When UGA plays its first game each fall, there are a lot of distractions on the campus that might affect a team’s focus. That seems like a clear constant or control factor in this study.
It is also worth noting that the Bulldogs opened up with a team that failed to win 8+ games the year prior in 12 of the last 15 highly-successful seasons the program has enjoyed.
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