Whenever Georgia Bulldogs fans gather, it’s not unusual for the conversation to end up in a discussion of the greatest or most memorable football games they’ve seen in person.
Having gone to UGA games regularly for more than five decades now, I have my own list of games for the ages. In fact, with the help of my brothers, Jonathan and Tim, I once compiled a Blawg of the greatest games we’d attended.
However, that list was compiled about 12 years ago, and there have been some amazing wins since then worth adding to the list.
(Keep in mind, these are only games I saw in person. My list doesn’t include some of Georgia’s greatest wins ever — games that I watched on TV or listened to on radio, including the upset of Michigan in Ann Arbor, “Run, Lindsay!” in Jacksonville, the national championship win over Notre Dame in New Orleans and the “hobnail boot” game in Knoxville.)
Anyway, here is a baker’s dozen of the greatest Dawgs wins that I’ve witnessed. …
Georgia over Alabama, 18-17, in 1965: ABC was on hand to televise this game, only the second TV appearance the Dogs had made (the first being the Jan. 1, 1960 Orange Bowl). And, with Alabama the defending national champions, not many folks gave the Dawgs much of a chance in ’65, the beginning of Vince Dooley’s second season. But the Dogs were hanging tough and behind only 17-10 in the fourth quarter. I’d gone to get a Coke and was walking back to my seat when I heard someone say, “The Bear better do something, or Bama could lose this thing.” Sure enough, moments later came the legendary flea-flicker pass from Kirby Moore to Pat Hodgson to Bob Taylor. And then, with the 2-point play pass to Hodgson, Georgia had one of its most memorable victories ever. In my ranking last year of the greatest wins of the Dooley era, I put this one No. 2 behind the national championship-winning Sugar Bowl.
Georgia over Alabama, 21-0, in 1976: The outcome of the game between the No. 6 Bulldogs and the No. 10 Crimson Tide was never really in question, and the Sanford Stadium crowd smelled the Bear’s blood from the start. This was the loudest I ever heard a Sanford crowd until they enclosed the east end of the stadium. Manhandling Bama, which was coming off five straight conference crowns, just wasn’t done in those days. One of the toughest tickets ever in Athens. Folks camped out overnight on the tracks. The Junkyard Dawgs defense held Bama to just 49 yards rushing. The postgame celebration in Athens was wild, with police having to close Milledge Avenue.
Georgia over Georgia Tech, 29-28, in 1978: Georgia had fallen behind the hated Jackets 20-0 when freshman quarterback Buck Belue was inserted into the game. With a little under five minutes left, Tech still led 28-21, but Belue led the Dogs 84 yards for a score and a 2-point conversion and Bulldog Nation fell in love with the player from Valdosta, long before the immortal pass to Lindsay Scott in Jacksonville.
Georgia over South Carolina, 13-10, in 1980: The matching of Herschel Walker vs. George Rogers. The undefeated Dogs against South Carolina’s best team ever. A national television audience (back when that still meant something). It all came down to two plays: Herschel’s 76-yard third-quarter run for a TD, and Rogers’ fourth-quarter fumble when the Cocks were threatening. Rogers may have won the Heisman that year, but the freshman from Wrightsville outshone him on this day.
Georgia over Clemson, 13-7, in 1982: The first night game at Sanford Stadium after the lights were put back in, this was a matchup of the two previous national champions — back when a rivalry didn’t get any bigger than Georgia-Clemson. Herschel, who was injured, was mostly a decoy that night. The game itself wasn’t all that memorable — except for the fact that the Dawgs won — but the atmosphere was absolutely electric.
Georgia over Clemson, 26-23, in 1984: Georgia had battled back from trailing 20-6 at halftime to the No. 2 team in the country. With only 11 seconds left, the two teams were tied 23-23 back before the overtime rule. Then, Kevin Butler kicked the winning field goal “a hundred-thousand miles” (as Larry Munson put it). One of the biggest ovations I’ve ever heard a Georgia score get.
Georgia over Clemson, 27-12, in 1991: One of the high points of the Ray Goff years, as the Dogs upset the No. 6 Tigers, who went on to win the ACC Championship, in a night game on national TV. This also was the day the Braves clinched the division title that began their celebrated run under Bobby Cox. When the Braves score was announced after the football game, Georgia and Clemson fans chopped and chanted together. Unforgettable.
Georgia over Georgia Tech, 51-7, in 2002: A complete and total butt-kicking, from beginning to end. One of the best days ever in Sanford Stadium for this Dawgs fan, and one of the most satisfying wins of the Mark Richt era.
Georgia over LSU, 45-16, in 2004: One of the loudest and rowdiest Sanford Stadium crowds ever and, again, total domination, this time over the defending national co-champion. Five touchdown throws by David Greene against an opponent that really mattered. My brother Jon, who wound up tailgating with a bunch of folks from LSU, cites this game as the most enjoyable he’s attended.
Georgia over LSU, 34-14, in the 2005 SEC Championship Game: My son and I were the lucky recipients of gift tickets to this one, an upset over Les Miles’ No. 3-ranked Tigers that featured D.J. Shockley quickly throwing 2 touchdown passes to Sean Bailey, who caught them right in front of us, and the Georgia defense making quite a few big plays. There was an inevitability about Georgia’s win that you could feel in the Georgia Dome from that second superb grab by Bailey. It’s not often you see LSU fans start to leave with 12:28 left in the game and their team trailing. But, I must say, I was impressed with the Tigers fan I encountered after the game who punched fists with me and said, “Good game, Dawg!” I picked this one as the single greatest win of the Richt era.
Georgia over Auburn, 45-20, in 2007: The first “Blackout” game. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Sanford Stadium crowd as excited as when the Dawgs burst through that banner in those black jerseys. Still, the Tigers made it a game, taking a 20-17 lead, before Georgia scored 28 unanswered points and wound up dancing to “Soulja Boy.”
Georgia over Georgia Tech, 30-24, in 2009: Frankly, I was dreading this one when my son Bill decided to take me to my first game at Grant Field in decades, but the lightly-regarded Dawgs ran it down the throats of a Jackets team that ended up winning the ACC Championship. The original “We run this state” game. The looks on the faces of the Tech fans on the walk back to the MARTA station afterward were priceless.
Georgia over LSU, 44-41, in 2013: With ESPN’s College GameDay in town and the eyes of the nation on the quarterback showdown between former roomies Aaron Murray and Zach Mettenberger, the resulting “Redout” game was one of the most thrilling days I ever spent at a Georgia athletic event — and, to date, the absolutely loudest I’ve ever heard Sanford Stadium from the first kickoff to the final whistle. On the last futile drive by LSU, the stadium was literally vibrating with an unreal decibel level. A spine-tingling moment that never will be forgotten by the fans who were there.
Among other memorable games I’ve attended that deserve honorable mention is another big win from the ultimately disappointing 2013 season, with Georgia beating a top 10 South Carolina team 41-30 in Athens. From the aggressive game plan that featured a daring onside kick early on to a goal line stand and a pair of gutsy third-down touchdown passes by Aaron Murray, it was a game the Dawgs deserved to win. Most impressive was the way Georgia ground out the last 8:28 of the game with a 14-play drive. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a sweeter sight Between the Hedges than a resigned Steve Spurrier taking his headset off midway through that drive and declining to call a timeout!
Another memorable one is Georgia’s 34-7 win over Auburn in 2014, which my daughter Olivia, a 2016 UGA grad, calls the Waffle House Bowl, since the restaurant chain had promised free waffles for the winning school’s hometown. The Dawgs scored 34 unanswered points in upsetting the ninth-ranked Tigers.
Then there was the 2014 season opener against Clemson, with Todd Gurley running for 198 yards and 3 touchdowns, and returning a kickoff 100 yards for another score, as No. 12 Georgia routed the No. 16 Tigers, 45-21.
Also memorable was the 2016 Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game matching my son’s two alma maters at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, with Nick Chubb coming back from a knee injury to run for 222 yards as the Dawgs opened the Kirby Smart era by beating North Carolina 33-24.
Finally, a game that ordinarily would have made the list, but didn’t, was the 2000 win that broke the losing streak against Tennessee. The atmosphere was unforgettable, as the Sanford crowd sensed victory and massed around the field, but the moment was ruined for me by Georgia fans tearing off large hunks of the Hedges in addition to bringing down the goalposts. Trashing your own field? Sorry, I can’t celebrate such stupidity.
Those are the greatest games I’ve seen in person. What are some of yours?
(If there’s something you want to discuss, or you have a question, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or connect with me on Facebook or via Twitter. And don’t forget to check out past entries of the Junkyard Blawg.)