For the Georgia football faithful, the special moments that occur on Saturdays in the fall will be carried through legends for years to come. But, for years, the fan base has been left wondering “what if?” after the Georgia Bulldogs football program came so close to reaching the ultimate prize repeatedly.
As the confetti fell on January 10, 2022, and Kirby Smart’s team was freed from the demons that haunted previous generations of Dawgs, fans could finally reminisce about the past without the pain.
With the 2022 college football season kicking off this weekend, we compiled a list of the top ten UGA football moments since 2005. (the beginning of our cognitive memory) Much discussion went into which moments belonged and where they should be ranked , and all those conversations can be heard on the latest episode of Baxter Street Boys.
10. Clemson @ Georgia, 2014
Fresh off a classic in Death Valley last year, the Dawgs sought revenge against the Dabo Swinney-led Tigers Between the Hedges. In one of the best environments Sanford Stadium has ever seen, the Dawgs were successful as they defeated Clemson 45-21. Todd Gurley put on a show as he rushed for 198 yards, three touchdowns and a 100-yard punt return for a touchdown. Dawgs fans were also introduced to a true rookie sensation named Nick Chubb, who scored his first career touchdown despite losing his shoe while running.
9. 2005 SEC Championship: Georgia vs. LSU
Georgia’s recent SEC Championship win in the old Georgia Dome was memorable, as QB DJ Shockley led the Bulldogs to a 34-14 upset victory over the LSU Tigers. Tim Jennings’ pick-six to seal the victory is a repeat that often appears at Sanford Stadium and capped one of the biggest wins of the 2000s for the Dawgs.
8. Auburn @ Georgia, 2014: The Blackout
After coach Mark Richt encouraged fans to shut down Sanford Stadium, he followed through on his request after the team ran out in black uniforms for the first time ever, sending the crowd of 92,000 into darkness. That excitement and energy from the fans propelled the team to a 45-21 victory over the Auburn Tigers. Quarterback Matthew Stafford and running back Knowshon Moreno stole the show, including inspirational CBS commentators Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson of Moreno “pushing that Souja Boy” on live TV.
7. Georgia vs. Florida, 2007
When RB Knowshon Moreno crossed the goal line for the first score of the game, the entire UGA roster rushed the field to celebrate at the goal line. If Gary Danielson “This was planned!” didn’t prove this stunt was premeditated, Mark Richt’s famous smile definitely did. Moreno ran for 188 yards and three touchdowns, while Matthew Stafford added three more to propel the Dawgs to a 42-30 victory over the Tim Tebow-led 11th-ranked Florida Gators.
6. LSU @ Georgia, 2013
A large portion of the fan base will tell you that this game was the loudest game in Sanford Stadium history, and we agree. It’s rare to see a conference shootout between the fences, but that’s exactly what followed. Former Bulldog Zach Mettenberger put on a show as the Tigers’ signal-caller, with 372 yards and three touchdowns, but it wasn’t enough as Aaron Murray and the Bulldogs rolled past LSU in the high-flying affair. One of Murray’s highlights as a Dawg came when he connected with Justin Scott-Wesley for a touchdown with 1:44 left to seal the 44-41 win for UGA.
5. Georgia @ Notre Dame, 2017
The Dawgnation was out in full force as the Georgia Bulldogs traveled north to South Bend, Indiana, for a showdown with top-ten ranked Notre Dame. Freshman quarterback Jake Fromm was making his first start in one of the most iconic stadiums in college football. With about 40,000 Georgia fans making the trip with him. Fromm did enough to give the Dawgs a chance to win, and the defense closed out the game with a Davin Bellamy sack of Brandon Wimbush en route to a 20-19 win. Cole Wilcox describes this game on the podcast as “the game that fans knew the times were changing.”
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4. Orange Bowl 2021: Georgia vs. Michigan
The build-up to the Orange Bowl Playoff game was the expectation of an old-school trench slugfest. Michigan boasted the nation’s best offensive line, while Georgia claimed the nation’s best defensive line. It was power against power, but former Stetson quarterback Bennett came out firing. While the Dawg’s No. 1 defense was more than ready to play, Bennett threw for 313 yards and three touchdowns, which earned him the game’s offensive MVP trophy. Michigan rushed for less than 100 yards as UGA’s 34-11 victory advanced them to the national championship game.
3. 2017 SEC Championship: Georgia vs. Auburn
The only thing standing between Georgia and the program’s first SEC title since 2005 was the team responsible for their only loss, the Auburn Tigers. Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn was caught on camera yelling, “we took their dogs out,” after ending UGA’s perfect season two weeks ago. Georgia came out fueled by aspirations of revenge and earned it by outscoring Auburn in all aspects of the game, en route to a 35-7 victory. Freshman Deandre Swift put the nail in Auburn’s coffin with a 64-yard TD to send Georgia to their first College Football Playoff.
2. The Rose Bowl 2018: Georgia vs. Oklahoma
Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield and the Oklahoma Sooners opened the game on fire, scoring 31 points in the first half to take a 14-point lead into the locker room. Georgia’s defense, led by Roquan Smith, stepped up in the second half and allowed the legendary UGA RB duo of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel to return the score late in regulation. In double overtime, senior LB Lorenzo Carter blocked a Sooner field goal attempt to give the ball back to the Georgia offense. It took Michel just two plays to drive straight into the end zone and earn the Bulldogs their first trip to the National Championship game since the early 80’s.
1. 2022 National Championship: Georgia vs. Alabama
This game needs no introduction. Alabama, the team that had caused so much pain to the Bulldog team and fans, was the final obstacle to hoisting the trophy. After the Crimson Tide beat the Bulldogs in Atlanta 41-24, the Dawgs got the last laugh as Kelee Ringo’s 79-yard run sent the Demons into a tailspin. The Georgia Bulldogs were national champions for the first time since 1980, easily the best UGA football moment this century.
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