While on the subject of "Various Team Performances" (a concept recently introduced into my list-making enterprise by Ryan of The Highland Road Blog), I thought I should follow up on my selection of The Five Best Team Performances in Games I Attended with a look at the other side of the coin.
Therefore, in the interest of being evenhanded, I now present to you . . . The Five Worst Team Performances in Games I Attended:
October 15, 1994: Vanderbilt 43, Georgia 30---I was in my first year of law school at the Joseph Henry Lumpkin School of Law and my criminal law professor, Paul Kurtz, joked in class on Friday that, if his alma mater, Vanderbilt, beat Georgia between the hedges, class would be canceled on Monday. He could afford to make that offer, as he had served on the Georgia law faculty since 1975 and had seen the Commodores go 0-9 in Sanford Stadium during his tenure in the Classic City. In fact, Vandy hadn't beaten the Bulldogs between the hedges since 1961 . . . until the 'Dores rolled into Athens for homecoming, turned a two-yard fumble return into seven points just 39 seconds into the contest, and gained 415 rushing yards on the Georgia defense. This game was the low point of the Ray Goff era, which is saying something. If I had been named athletic director for the day, I'd have fired Coach Goff at halftime. To top it all off, Professor Kurtz went ahead and held class on Monday, anyway.
Dumb . . .
October 10, 1998: Tennessee 22, Georgia 3---E.S.P.N.'s "College GameDay" came to town and broadcast from atop the Tate Center. The atmosphere in Athens was electric. The opportunity to place Bulldog football back on the national map was there for the taking. Georgia was favored, undefeated, playing at home, ranked seventh, and coming off of a huge road win over the sixth-ranked team in the country. The 'Dawgs were never in the game. The Big Orange held the ball for nearly 38 minutes, limited the home team to 59 rushing yards while grinding out 210 yards on the ground themselves, picked off three Bulldog passes, and allowed Georgia to convert just two of the Red and Black's 12 third downs. It was an embarrassing effort against an extremely beatable opponent. Yes, I know the Volunteers went on to bring the national title back to Lucky Top. The Red and Black still had no business getting manhandled like that.
November 13, 1999: Auburn 38, Georgia 21---That is as deceptive a final score as you will ever see. The Tigers' 17-point margin of victory doesn't even begin to indicate the sort of stomping this one was. Of all the losses to the Plainsmen I have been in Sanford Stadium to witness in person, this one was the most lopsided. If memory serves, the Tigers had four touchdowns before the 'Dawgs had four first downs. Auburn took control early and the Bulldogs never adjusted, so the Tigers kept running what worked until the Red and Black proved that they could stop it, which they never did. It takes a lot to get me to leave a football game early, but I left this one at halftime. After this devastating loss to Georgia's oldest rival, I didn't really sleep well again until around Thanksgiving. I hate Auburn.
. . . and Dumber.
September 9, 2000: South Carolina 21, Georgia 10---This remains the single worst Georgia football-related experience of my entire life. The ninth-ranked Bulldogs, a consensus pick to win the conference crown and a dark horse contender for the national title, arrived in Columbia to take on a South Carolina team that had won just twice in its previous 26 games. Quincy Carter completed 15 passes on the day . . . 10 to Georgia receivers and five to Gamecock defenders. (There was a guy sitting a couple of rows ahead of me who started calling for Quincy to be yanked after the second interception. With each subsequent pick, he would turn around and hold up the number of fingers corresponding to the number of errant throws, reinforcing his contention that the starter should be pulled. At the time, I thought the guy was overreacting. Now I know that I owe that guy an apology, because he was right all along.) I attended the game with Travis Rice and Jeff Rogers. Afterwards, we made a pact that the three of us would never attend another Georgia-South Carolina game in Columbia. (Since Williams-Brice Stadium opened in 1934, the Bulldogs have lost there just six times. One-third of all of Georgia's losses to the Gamecocks in that venue have occurred with Trav, Jeff, and me in the stands. Since 1988, the 'Dawgs are 5-0 in Columbia without Trav, Jeff, and me there, but the Red and Black are 0-2 there with the three of us present. We're never going back.) It makes me sick at my stomach just thinking about this game, so let's move on to the next one.
Not pictured: me.
October 9, 2004: Tennessee 19, Georgia 14---The 'Dawgs came into this home game against the overmatched Volunteers unfocused, overconfident, and inefficient. Granted, the outcome would have been different if the officiating had been merely atrocious instead of outright appalling, but, even so, the Red and Black never should have placed themselves in a situation where blown calls by the refs would have a chance to make the difference. This loss to a clearly inferior Tennessee team prevented Georgia from attending four consecutive S.E.C. championship games between 2002 and 2005.
Those are my worst personal experiences going to watch my team play. Feel free to share yours in the comments below. (Don't worry; it's actually quite cathartic.)