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Post Curating a day of classic Georgia football

Wednesday June 10, 2020

Our sports networks are digging into the archives for content, and for that we’re grateful. It’s just about all we have for now in the way of sports programming. The Georgia Bulldogs Radio Network even got into the act during the month of May with radio calls featuring Larry Munson on Saturday afternoons.

The thing is that when the TV networks do a classic Georgia game, it’s often from the same pool of 4 or 5 games. I love the Rose Bowl win like a family member, but by now I can recite it by heart. So let’s create a day of wall-to-wall Georgia football viewing with some memorable games from the past 30 years that aren’t in heavy rotation.

(Most of these are on YouTube – links included where possible.)

Midnight-3am: 2000 Tennessee. It wasn’t a particularly thrilling game (Georgia won completing 8 of 18 passes for 134 yards,) but it was a significant win. Georgia ended the decade-long losing streak to the Vols. It took a fourth down stand by, as Larry Munson called them, the “beautiful defense.” It featured the ground game and arguably launched the fan-favorite status of Musa Smith. Then there was the bizarre ending with Georgia fans rushing the field with time left on the clock…

3am-6am: 2009 Georgia Tech. “We Run This State” has been in the Georgia fan’s lexicon for over a decade now. See the game that started it. It’s not often that Georgia Tech and Georgia are in a position for a Bulldog win to be a big upset, but this outcome surprised even me.

6am-9am: 1997 Florida. Let’s end another streak. Georgia entered as 20-point underdogs to the defending champs, but Georgia came out firing and built a 14-3 halftime lead. This wasn’t the cakewalk indicated by the 37-17 final score. Florida came back and took the lead in the third quarter. It wasn’t over until Robert Edwards tightroped down the sideline with less than six minutes remaining. Olandis Gary put the cherry on top minutes later. It was an entertaining back-and-forth game with great performances by Edwards, Bobo, Ward, and you even get to watch Kirby Smart notch two interceptions.

9am-noon: 2002 Alabama. Are you man enough to watch this game? The start of the 2002 season featured several close calls. Four of Georgia’s first six wins had a margin of no more than six points. We could feature the Clemson game with the Tiger field goal that came up just short. There’s the “Pollack game” at South Carolina. But for the 2002 team to prove its worth, it had to win in Tuscaloosa. Pat Dye didn’t think they had it in them. Georgia fans who made the trip remember this game for the heat, but from the comforts of home it was an extremely entertaining watch. Enjoy some spectacular Fred Gibson catches, tense up during the Alabama comeback, wince at the pick six that put Bama on top, and exult as Billy Bennett’s game-winning field goal established Georgia as an SEC and national contender.

Noon-3pm: 1991 Clemson. Take the charged atmosphere of the 2013 LSU game. Make it at night. Add the excitement of the worst-to-first Braves clinching the division (yes, fans of both teams joined in the tomahawk chop during pregame.) Top it off with a convincing upset of a rival who happened to be the #6 team in the nation. A deep pass and score just before halftime put Georgia out in front, and things only got better in the second half. Eric Zeier put an end to the quarterback controversy of the early 1991 season, and we began to see the shape of the team that would have a pretty nice run from 1991-1992. Bonus: you get the classic ’90s broadcasting duo of Franklin and Gottfried.

3pm-6pm: 2007 Florida. A genuninely fun game in which Georgia’s offense outperformed the eventual Heisman winner. It started strong with Georgia’s bench-emptying celebration, but this game had four quarters of high-scoring action. Florida even led in the second quarter, and Georgia managed to claw back on top by halftime. The second half was back-and-forth with Georgia extending its lead and Florida fighting back to stay within a score. It wasn’t over until a late Tebow fumble within striking distance of Georgia’s endzone allowed Georgia’s fans to enjoy their second win of the Mark Richt era over Florida. Knowshon Moreno was brilliant, Stafford threw two long touchdown passes, and the 2007 team that seemed dead in the water turned the corner to become a national title contender.

6pm-9pm: 1998 LSU. Ease into the evening with a great game from Baton Rouge. Georgia and its “freshman” quarterback faced a night game in Death Valley against #6 LSU. It looked as if we were headed for a shootout: the teams traded blows en route to a 21-21 halftime tie. Georgia broke the tie in the third quarter and held on for dear life as LSU inched closer and closer with a pair of field goals. They sealed the win with a perfect over-the-shoulder catch by Champ Bailey on a risky third down pass. The Dawgs were able to run out the clock and earn the upset win that set up the program’s first visit by ESPN Gameday a week later.

9pm-midnight: 2002 Auburn. As important as this game is in the history of Georgia football, you don’t see it very often – if at all. Without this win and the miracle Greene-to-Johnson pass, there is no breakthrough SEC championship for Mark Richt. 2002 becomes just another nice 10-2 season. How we look at that entire early-2000s run changes. Greene and Pollack are never champions. Georgia, without some of its top receivers, had to find a way to manufacture offense against a good Auburn team. The Dawgs trailed throughout the game and only managed a field goal in the first half. The offense came to life in the third quarter sparked by a long run by Musa Smith after Georgia found itself pinned against its own goal line. Georgia pulled to within four points, and the teams traded fourth quarter possessions as the clock ran down. A deep sideline pass to Fred Gibson set Georgia up in Auburn territory, and you know how this one ends.

Honorable Mention / Day Two: 2007 Auburn, 2002 Arkansas, 1997 Tech, 1999/2000 Purdue, 2006 Auburn, 2006 Virginia Tech, 2016 UNC, 2017 Mississippi State, 1992/3 Ohio State



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