Last year, I put together a series of posts prior to each of the games against the “Big 3″ rivals (Florida, Auburn & Georgia Tech), and we won each of those games. Given the importance of the game against the Volunteers on Saturday afternoon, I decided to put together my list of five great wins over and five crushing defeats by the Volunteers.
1) 2001 – Georgia 26, Tennessee 24 — The “Hobnail Boot” game has to be the biggest Georgia win in the series. After falling behind quickly in Knoxville, Mark Richt’s first team claws back to hold the lead late until Travis Stephens takes a screen pass the distance to appear to save the Vols. David Greene calmly leads Georgia back down the field and tosses a TD pass to Verron Haynes as the signature win in the Richt era. Larry Munson said this call was his favorite over the 40 years as the “Voice of the Dawgs.”
2) 1980 – Georgia 16, Tennessee 15 — The 1980 game was the springboard of the run to the national championship. My dad and I listened to the game that night on our stereo with the radio tuned to AM 750. This game was another game where the Dawgs fell behind early in Knoxville, and then Vince Dooley puts Herschel Walker in the game. Herschel runs over Bill Bates, and the rest is history.
3) 1988 – Georgia 28, Tennessee 17 — Georgia whips Tennessee in the first Tennessee game I personally witnessed in the season opener of what became Coach Dooley’s last season as head coach. Tim Worley and Rodney Hampton run wild as the Georgia running game controls the game from the outset. The stadium stayed full even after a driving rainstorm hit Athens in the 4th quarter.
4) 2003 – Georgia 41, Tennessee 14 — This game is probably Georgia’s most dominant win in the series as the defending SEC champions go into Neyland Stadium and give Casey Clausen a pounding that he probably still remembers. As the Volunteers drive the length of the field to take the lead at halftime, Jabari Davis fumbles a hand-off, and Sean Jones picks up the ball and takes it the distance to leave Lulu, Junior, and the Neyland Stadium crowd in shock.
5) 2005 – Georgia 27, Tennessee 14 — D.J. Shockley and the Georgia offense control the game throughout but never really put the game away until Thomas Flowers returns a punt for a TD to put the Dawgs up 20-7 in the 2nd half. Georgia breaks the will of the Tennessee defense with a long drive of running plays capped by a Thomas Brown TD to send the Vol Nation to the exits.
1) 1995 – Tennessee 30, Georgia 27 — In a game that personified the bad luck Ray Goff had during his tenure, Georgia loses a game late when the Vols kick a field goal to win. Robert Edwards ran wild that night until a season-ending broken foot enables the Vols to get back in the game. A dropped 3rd down pass with the score tied and a missed field goal gives the Vols a chance to drive the length of the field to set up the winning kick.
2) 1992 – Tennessee 34, Georgia 31 — In maybe the most frustrating loss I attended in the series, the Georgia offense scores 31 points with 5 turnovers. Heath Shuler leads the Vols down the field to score a TD late to defeat the Dawgs in Athens. This loss ends up costing Georgia an opportunity to appear in the first SEC championship game.
3) 2004 – Tennessee 19, Georgia 14 — The Georgia blogosphere has already mentioned this game multiple times this week to warn about what could happen on Saturday. Georgia hammers the defending national champions, LSU, the previous week and rises to #3 in the polls. The team came out flat and made Erik Ainge look like the reincarnation of Peyton Manning. Once again, this loss ended up costing Georgia a rematch with Auburn in the SEC championship at the end of the regular season.
4) 1998 – Tennessee 22, Georgia 3 — In the first appearance by College Gameday in Athens, the Volunteer defense stymies Quincy Carter and the Georgia offense, and Tee Martin and the Vols’ running game chews up the Georgia defense and plays keep-away the entire day. Of course, Tennessee goes on to win the national championship, and this game begins the slow decline that eventually leads to the dismissal of Jim Donnan as Georgia head coach.
5) 2007 – Tennessee 35, Georgia 14 — Georgia lays an enormous egg that eventually costs Georgia a shot at the SEC and national championship in Knoxville. The Vols jump on Georgia early, and the Georgia offense never gets untracked. Erik Ainge plays maybe the best game of his career in one of the first games where it became apparent that the Georgia defense under Willie Martinez would never be the same.
Just Win, Baby
I was surprised when I began to look at the recent history of the series. Generally, a loss to the Volunteers has meant that Georgia was not going to appear in the SEC championship game in December. While a win doesn’t guarantee an appearance in Atlanta in December, a loss would likely be devastating to our championship hopes. Let’s give SOD a rude welcome for his 2nd return to his home town where his father has a statue overlooking the Georgia athletics complex.
I’ll be back later in the week with a preview. Until then, I would love to read your comments below.