WATCH: Top 10 plays of breathtaking Georgia football season
ATHENS — Georgia football didn’t get handed a No. 5 national ranking and New Year’s Six Bowl any more than the Bulldogs backed into winning three consecutive SEC East Division crowns.
Playing in the top league in college football requires heroics and big plays each week to stay in championship contention, with no pushovers in the SEC.
A lot of work went into Kirby Smart’s team going 4-1 against opponents that were ranked in the Top 25 this season, including three wins over opponents still ranked in the Top 15.
The Bulldogs’ next challenge is against Baylor at 8:45 p.m. on Jan. 1 in the Sugar Bowl.
It’s worth looking back on a season filled with highlights and big moments.
Here are the 10 biggest plays of the season, two from each of the four wins over teams ranked in the Top 25, and two more off the most dynamic and highlight-worthy reels you will see.
No. 3 Georgia 23, No. 7 Notre Dame 17
No. 1 Gyrating Lawrence Cager
It didn’t take long for Lawrence Cager to make an impact at Georgia, but the Notre Dame game was where the Miami transfer solidified himself as Jake Fromm’s go-to target.
Cager’s gyrating 15-yard TD catch from Fromm with 13:19 left proved the game-winning points. Fromm was an efficient 20-of-26 passing for 187 yards and a TD in a game the Bulldogs didn’t lead until the third quarter.
Every WR Lawrence Cager @lawrencecager3 Catch
🆚 Notre Dame
— GEORGIA HEROES (@GeorgiaHeroes) September 22, 2019
No. 2 Newcomer’s delight
The Irish didn’t go away easily, intent on avenging the loss they suffered to the Bulldogs two years before in South Bend.
Notre Dame, hampered through the game by a deafening Sanford Stadium crowd to the point of six motion/offside infractions, drove down to the Georgia 39 for a last-ditch effort.
UGA defensive newcomers Nolan Smith and Jermaine Johnson chased quarterback Ian Book out of the pocket, and then DJ Daniel, another defensive newcomer, knocked down the fourth down pass to seal the victory.
Freshman Nolan Smith in hot pursuit! pic.twitter.com/jcybvNexCV
— TheGame (@FinishGame37) December 24, 2019
No. 8 Georgia 24, No. 6 Florida 17
No. 1 Backbreaking strike
The Gators had moved ahead of Georgia in the rankings, and all the pregame talk was about QB Kyle Trask and Dan Mullen rekindling the Florida offense.
Instead, Fromm and Cager stole the show. Fromm was 20-of-30 passing for 279 yards and 2 TDs, including a back-breaking 52-yard pass to Cager that made it 24-3 in a game the Bulldogs’ largely dominated.
Every WR Lawrence Cager ( @lawrencecager3 ) Catch
— GEORGIA HEROES (@GeorgiaHeroes) November 4, 2019
No. 2 Hungry like Wolf
Georgia had shifted into a soft defense with the big lead in the fourth quarter, and Florida took advantage with chunk plays and touchdowns that narrowed the gap to 24-17.
Fromm and the Bulldogs faced a third-and-7 at their own 25 with 2:53 left, and many expected Smart to go conservative and run the football to burn up more time.
Instead, Fromm feathered a perfect pass over the defense and into the arms of Wolf, a Tennessee transfer once tormented by Florida, who reeled in the 22-yard catch that kept the ball way from the Gators’ offense and secured the win.
Georgia needed a big play. Jake Fromm delivered it. pic.twitter.com/x6Am1o8OZ3
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) November 2, 2019
No. 4 Georgia 21, No. 12 Auburn 14
No. 1 Fromm’s 50-yard flick
Fromm and Georgia offensive coordinator James Coley knew better than anyone the Tigers’ defensive front would be a load for the Bulldogs run attack, so the idea was to strike big early if the opportunity presented itself.
Fromm, with a first down and the ball at midfield halfway through a scoreless first quarter, came off his primary read and flicked a pass to Dominick Blaylock that traveled about 50 yards through the air and hit the freshman in stride for a huge tone-setting TD.
Jake Fromm with a flick of the wrist!
— PFF College (@PFF_College) November 16, 2019
No. 2 Quarterback Stalker
Smart said before the season that Travon Walker would likely be the only true freshman defensive lineman to make an impact, and did he ever.
The Bulldogs’ defensive pitched a shutout for three quarters, but much like the Florida game, Smart switched into a softer coverage package late, trading time for yardage, and Auburn rallied.
Tigers’ freshman QB Bo Nix had broken UGA’s string of not allowing a rushing touchdown, but he couldn’t break Walker’s grip on a game-clinching sack.
Travon Walker (@D1Figure_) with the SAAAAAACCCCCKKKKKK!!!!!!
— GEORGIA HEROES (@GeorgiaHeroes) November 17, 2019
No. 4 Georgia 19, No. 24 Texas A&M 13
Jimbo Fisher gambled his defense could stop the Georgia offense when he opted to punt from the Bulldogs’ 43-yard line with 4:26 left and three timeouts.
Instead, Fromm and the Bulldogs’ offense ran out the clock, missing passes with some superb running from D’Andre Swift like this jaw-dropping burst with the game on the line.
No. 1 Swift cutback
— GEORGIA HEROES (@GeorgiaHeroes) November 23, 2019
No. 2 Junkyard Stop
The Aggies were just as intent to play power football as Georgia amid sloppy conditions, but the Bulldogs’ defense was best against the run in the SEC for a reason.
One play after Kellen Mind was stopped on a third-and-inches, Jordan Davis broke through to deliver the first hit on the Texas A&M ballcarrier, and the Bulldogs swarmed on a momentum-swinging short-yardage stop in the second half.
— TheGame (@FinishGame37) December 24, 2019
Offensive highlight of the year
D’Andre Swift carried the Georgia offense all season, running with power, vision and burst. Against Kentucky, Swift showed it all on one play, his 39-yard TD run breaking open a scoreless tie. Swift had 21 carries and 179 yards on a cold, windy and rainy night.
D’Andre Swift in a 21-0 win vs. Kentucky : 21 carries for a career-high 179 yards & 2 TD’s (Kentucky had 177 yards of total offense) pic.twitter.com/FwOAWIHuDv
— Lee Harvey (@AyeThatsLee) October 20, 2019
Defensive highlight of the year
Cornerback Eric Stokes has become best known for his sticky coverage tactics, but against Tennessee he showed an entirely different side.
Defensive coordinator Dan Lanning sent Stokes on a corner blitz, and Tennessee’s celebrated freshman quarterback Brian Maurer never saw the Bulldogs’ biggest hit of the season coming in Georga’s 43-14 blowout win in Knoxville.
The hit stick
— Corey Knapp (@CoreyTheKnapper) October 6, 2019