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Post Georgia’s coldest games

Monday January 21, 2008

Like a lot of football fans I watched some of yesterday’s NFL playoff action (Go Giants!!!), and I don’t think I was alone in reacting to the weather in Green Bay with a mix of amazement, horror, and admiration for those out in the sub-zero temperatures. A week earlier, we saw Green Bay beat Seattle in a blinding snowstorm.

As a kid who spent plenty of winter afternoons playing backyard football in the snow, I have to say I love watching games like that. You haven’t lived until you leap over a three-foot snow drift serving as goal-line defense. At the same time, I have to ask if watching football in such weather is a worse product. The weather is more often the story instead of the skills of the players.

Dealing with the elements is part of the game, and it certainly adds a bit of humanity to the game to see a receiver track the ball through the snow or a running back try to get his footing in the mud. That’s entertaining to a point, but in a sport where speed and precision play such a role, is it really such a great thing that weather can do so much to equalize the game and keep the stars from performing at their top level?

The Super Bowl will be played in Arizona. Weather won’t be a factor. Instead, the game will be about Brady to Moss. Manning to Burress. It’ll be about Seymour and company trying to shut down Jacobs and Strahan finding a way to pressure an untouchable quarterback. As much as a game on the Frozen Tundra is a fascinating novelty, I prefer it when games are decided more by the players and not the thermometer.

All that said, I couldn’t help watching those games yesterday and thinking about some of the colder Georgia games I’ve been to since I began following the Dawgs in 1991. My wife nominates the 1987 Liberty Bowl when fans were setting fires in the bathroom sinks to keep warm. This is my list, though, so here we go. Is it coincidence that four of them were losses? Does sitting through a loss just make it seem colder?

My Five Coldest Georgia Football Games:

1: 2001 Music City Bowl. Going by my recollection of the crowd, you probably skipped this one. Other games might have had worse weather, but no game I’ve attended matches this one for sheer bitter cold. I had never been too cold to tailgate until this day, and portable heaters were useless. Still, there was Uga VI on his bag of ice…

2: 1991 Florida. America remembers the weekend of this game as the dates of the "Perfect Storm" later made (in)famous by Hollywood. Much of the East Coast was in the grip of a large storm off New England, and Florida was no exception. Friday was nice enough, but those of us at the beach were already dealing with the strong winds. By Saturday, the strong storm off the coast was bringing cold arctic winds straight down the entire East Coast and into the Gator Bowl. Incidently, other than 1992, the weather for my four Georgia-Florida games as a student was pretty damn crappy…just like the outcomes.

3: 1995 Auburn. This game was noteworthy for the plummeting temperatures as the day went on. The morning started off relatively mild for mid-November as rain ended and the skies began clearing following a cold front passage. By the time the game came around, fans – many of whom were dressed for the warmer temperatures of the morning – were facing not only rapidly dropping temperatures but a gusty, biting northwest wind that came right in through the open end of Sanford Stadium unimpeded.

4: 2000 Ole Miss. It’s not often that a Georgia home game is accompanied by frozen precipitation, but it happened here. Tailgaters dodged sleet and then a cold and miserable rain. It seemed like another cold, soggy loss was on the way when Ole Miss went up 14-0, but the Dawgs bounced back for a 32-14 behind Musa Smith. The weather wouldn’t improve much before Georgia’s next home game…

5: 2000 Georgia Tech. Maybe it was the outcome. Maybe it was the fitting end to a disappointing season. Maybe it was the unthinkable third-straight loss to Tech. All of that only served to make the day’s cold rain seem that much colder and more miserable.

8 Responses to 'Georgia’s coldest games'

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  • ’04 Tech

  • Sanford ran out of hot chocolate early in the 3rd quarter at the 1995 Auburn game.
    How close did the 2007 G-Day game come to making your top 5?

  • You’re right. It didn’t count as a game, but last year’s G-Day was probably the coldest I’ve been inside Sanford, and that includes the ’95 Auburn game. I don’t think we lasted two quarters.

  • 1978 UGA vs. Tech at Sanford. The debut of Buck Belue in on of the greatest UGA games I ever saw.

  • What about the 2005 Tech game in Sanford? The cold and the rain made that game pretty miserable. All was fine though, when R. Ball through the ball away on fourth down! ha.

  • 1987 Liberty Bowl. As cold as the 2002 Alabama game was hot. Still cold.

  • Jim from Duluth

    January 22nd, 2008
    10:21 pm


    Folks older than us might bring up another debacle in Sanford, the 1974 blowout loss to nats. From what I’ve heard and recall from listening to Munson then, the weather was as crappy as the 2000 Ole Miss game but a few degrees colder (mid 30s, as opposed to upper 30s for 2000 Ole Miss). And G-Day this year would be right up there.

  • I was in Sanford Stadium for both the ’74 and ’78 games against Tech. I was a senior both years, one high school and the other UGA. ’78 was cold, but it was not pouring down rain like it was in ’74. No exaggeration, ’74 was the coldest most miserable I have been at a game in my life. The temperature really was in the mid thirties and it was raining hard at times. Tech was running the Wishbone and Pepper Rodgers was the coach. We could not stop them OR the rain and we lost 34-14.

    In contrast, 1978 was a miracle – nationally televised and one of the best and most dramatic wins over Tech ever, winning 29-28 on a two point conversion with about a minute left to play!