As we prepare for the Georgia Bulldogs’ upcoming Capital One Bowl date with the Nebraska Cornhuskers, we will be looking back at the pertinent postseason tilts in Red and Black history. We began by looking at the 1969 Sun Bowl, which featured the only previous meeting between these two teams. Now, we begin to turn our attention to the Classic City Canines’ prior treks to Orlando, beginning with their first trip there for the 1974 Tangerine Bowl.
From its inception at the end of the 1946 college football season, the Tangerine Bowl had provided a showcase for smaller schools, some of whom would be relegated to the Division I-AA ranks following the split of major college programs into a pair of subdivisions. The bowl had a breakthrough at the end of the 1968 campaign, when the Ohio Bobcats appeared in Orlando to cap off an unbeaten regular season; that year, Ohio became the first ranked team to play in the Tangerine Bowl, and the Bobcats’ bid began a string of eight straight trips to Disney World in December for the Mid-American Conference champion. On seven of those occasions, the MAC winner appeared there sporting a top 20 ranking.
Georgia went to the Tangerine Bowl in 1974 to face Miami (Ohio), which then went by the nickname “Redskins.” Though the Ohioans would have more legendary coaches---Woody Hayes, Ara Parseghian, and Bo Schembechler also served as skippers in Oxford, Ohio---perhaps their greatest run of success came under Bill Mallory and Dick Crum from 1973 to 1975, when the now-RedHawks went 32-1-1, claimed three straight MAC titles, earned a trio of consecutive top 15 rankings in the final AP poll, and won Tangerine Bowls against the Florida Gators, the Georgia Bulldogs, and the South Carolina Gamecocks in succession.
Those Bulldogs were hardly world-beaters, as the Athenians limped into the postseason at 6-5 after the poorest defensive season statistically in school history. Erk Russell had switched to the “50” defense, and Georgia surrendered 28 points to the Clemson Tigers, 31 apiece to the Houston Cougars and the Vanderbilt Commodores, 34 to the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, 35 to the Oregon St. Beavers, and 38 to the Mississippi St. Bulldogs.
On the first play from scrimmage in Orlando, the Bulldogs fumbled at their own 25 yard line, and the Redskins recovered. Miami (Ohio) quickly converted, taking a 7-0 lead with 13 and a half minutes remaining in the opening period. A 43-yard completion from Matt Robinson to Richard Appleby set up an Allan Leavitt field goal for the ‘Dawgs, but the Ohioans went on a 68-yard march to go up, 14-3, at the end of the first quarter.
Another Red and Black fumble, this time at their own 22 yard line, gave the Redskins one more easy score, and the Athenians trailed, 21-3, at the break. Though the Georgia defense was much improved after intermission, the Bulldogs only were able to muster a single score in the second half, sparked by Butch Box’s recovery of a fumbled punt off the foot of Bucky Dilts. This set the ‘Dawgs up in Miami (Ohio) territory, and “Glidin’” Glynn Harrison ripped off a 28-yard gain on the next play. The drive ended when Ray Goff dived over the goal line for the touchdown that made the final score 21-10.
The win extended the Redskins’ unbeaten streak to 23 games in an outing in which the Bulldogs outgained the MAC champions, 274-242. The two teams took very different approaches, however, as Miami (Ohio) had 228 rushing yards and Georgia had 200 passing yards. The loss was the Red and Black’s last in Orlando.