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Looking Ahead While Looking Back: Georgia vs. Missouri, 1960

Since the departure of Kyle Weblog, I have been going through Georgia football history withdrawal. I figured I would attempt to take Dawg Sports readers on an excursion throughout the glorious history of our program, but with a bit of a twist. I plan on launching a series where we will go through the 2013 football schedule with yours truly selecting a past memorable game against each foe, provided there has been one.

Without further ado, I present you with Georgia's most monumental showdown with the Missouri Tigers.

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via www.mmbolding.com

January 1, 1960 (Orange Bowl Classic)

Miami Orange Bowl, Miami FL

Georgia: 14, Missouri: 0

Seeing as how the Georgia Bulldogs have played football in the Southeastern Conference or one of its predecessors since 1894 and the Missouri Tigers were members of the Big 12 Conference and its predecessors from 1907 to 2012, it should come as little surprise that these teams have only met on the gridiron twice. But the first time the Bulldogs and Tigers did lock horns, it was a game not to be forgotten.

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A hot ticket in those days cost only $4! via www.sicemdawgs.com

Going into this game, the 1959 Georgia Bulldogs, champions of the Southeastern Conference, were favored over Big Eight runners-up Missouri and they soon showed spectators why. Georgia opened the scoring as senior signal caller Fran Tarkenton completed a 29-yard touchdown pass to sophomore halfback Bill McKenney. A Durward Pennington extra-point made it 7-0 in favor of the Dawgs.

The Tigers attempted to answer in the second quarter with a drive that began on their own 14 and had ended up at the Georgia 10. A penalty pushed Missouri back 15 yards and, on the very next play, Tiger QB Phil Snowden was picked off by Bulldog senior safety Charley Britt at the UGA one-yard line. Later in that quarter, the Dawg defense continued to gnaw away at Missouri's steady scoring attempts. After a substantial drive late in the quarter, the Tigers were forced to attempt a field goal. Mel West's attempt from the Georgia 23 sailed wide of the goal posts, keeping Missouri off the scoreboard as the teams broke for intermission.

Tarkenton went back to work in the third. Under intense Tiger pressure, #10 flashed his superior scrambling ability, evaded the oncoming defenders and fired a 33-yard TD pass to end Aaron Box. Pennington's extra point made it 14-0.

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Fran Tarkenton scrambling against Missouri via www.mmbolding.com

The stout Dawg defense took it from there as Missouri continued threatening to make a game of it. The Tigers mounted a drive early in the fourth which featured a flashy forward-lateral play that gained 28 yards. This drive, which began on the Missouri 4, was snuffed out at the Georgia 13. Led by Charley Britt, who finished with two interceptions in the game, the Georgia defense kept the determined Tigers off the scoreboard until the final whistle blew. The Dawgs took the Orange Bowl trophy back to Athens with a 14-0 victory over Missouri.

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Charley Britt taking down Missouri's Norm Beal via www.mmbolding.com

Missouri coach Dan Devine spoke highly of Tarkenton's performance under pressure, "We planned to rush the passer and the two touchdowns they got were when their passer got away from our rushing." But the Georgia defense should also be credited as a deciding factor in this game. The Tigers led in total yardage, 260-to-216, but could never get across the goal line. Snowden even passed for 152 yards to Tarkenton's 113. Accepting defeat, the Missouri coach lamented, "We came down to win, but the best team won."

A few noteworthy odds and ends from the 1960 Orange Bowl:

  • After patrolling the Georgia sidelines for 21 years, the 1960 Orange Bowl marked Wally Butts's final game as head coach of the Bulldogs. For more on Butts's remarkable tenure in Athens, I highly recommend No Ifs, No Ands, a Lot of Butts: 21 Years of Georgia Football by Ed Thilenius (Larry Munson's predecessor) and Jim Koger.
  • Bobby Walden, Georgia's great punter, set a bowl record in the game with an average of 46.9 yards per punt. One of those punts was booted an astounding 68 yards.
  • This was the first UGA football game ever televised.

The game ball could go to a list of qualified candidates. Tarkenton's scrambling led to the two UGA scores. Walden set a record for punting average and probably could have booted one out of the stadium if he had wanted to. Coach Butts had his team prepared to send him out a winner. However, if the decision were mine to make, I'd give the ball to Charley Britt, captain of the defense that kept a pesky and persistent Missouri offense off the scoreboard with two interceptions and all-around excellent play.

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via www.footballcardgallery.com

Charley, alternately spelled "Charlie" (see card above), Britt was drafted in the third round of the 1960 NFL Draft by the Los Angeles Rams, where he played for four seasons. He spent part of the 1964 season, his last in the NFL, playing for the Minnesota Vikings. His brief stint in Minnesota reunited him with his former UGA teammate Fran Tarkenton, who starred at QB for the Vikings for six seasons. While playing for the Rams, Britt took advantage of all Tinseltown had to offer, acting in the TV sitcom The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet. He returned to LA after his NFL career was over and played in another famous sitcom, The Lucy Show. Britt, 75, is currently back home in the Augusta area working on a novel that, in his words, "somewhat follows [his] life's path."

For a sample of Britt's acting, check out this clip from Ozzie & Harriet. He's the tall, handsome fellow who walks through the room at 0:13 and says, "Well, I think I'll eat out tonight."

Please join me in raising a paw to Charley Britt and the 1959 Georgia Bulldogs for delivering an epic performance in a crucial game on January 1, 1960, a game I consider the best ever played against the Missouri Tigers.

If you were around when this game was aired for the first time, what do you remember? If you weren't, what have you heard from those who were? What are your fondest memories from the 2012 Missouri game? Did the game inspire you to name a child, or at least a pet, "Jarvis?" What do you expect the 2013 contest to be like?

Next stop: The Vanderbilt Commodores. Georgia has played them 74 times and holds a commanding 54-18-2 series lead. There haven't been too many memorable battles among those 54 wins, but I'll think of something. As always, your thoughts and suggestions are warmly welcomed.

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