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Looking Ahead While Looking Back: Georgia vs. Auburn, 1982

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 Auburn Tigers.

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Nate Taylor and the Georgia D put the finishing touches on a Herschel Walker masterpiece via img.fanbase.com

November 13, 1982

Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn, AL

Georgia: 19 Auburn: 14

The Georgia Bulldogs and Auburn Tigers first met in 1892 and, tied at 54-54-8, this series is as evenly matched as one could be. It goes without saying that some everlasting memories are made whenever the Dawgs and Plainsmen meet on the gridiron. Before the advent of the SEC Championship Game, many Georgia conference titles were clinched against the Tigers. Auburn has also been known to spoil seasons in which Georgia was gunning for a conference- and/or national championship. The 1982 battle was yet another day at the office in this phenomenal series, the Deep South's Oldest Rivalry. That year, Auburn was bound and determined to keep Georgia from hoisting its third straight conference trophy, but sometimes sugar just has a way of falling out of the sky.

Georgia entered this contest ranked #1 in the nation, facing an Auburn squad salivating at the opportunity to keep its hated foe from winning the conference and playing for the national championship. From 1980-1982, Georgia had only lost to Clemson (in 1981) and by the end of this game, despite Auburn's best efforts, the Bulldogs would not have lost a conference game in three straight seasons.

The Dawgs struck first in this game with an early field goal but a resilient Tiger offense, led by quarterback Randy Campbell, marched down the field and found the end zone on a bootleg for a 7-3 lead. Georgia's junior running back Herschel Walker answered with a second-quarter, 47-yard touchdown run that gave Georgia a 10-7 lead heading into halftime.

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You might have heard of this guy before via cdn.bleacherreport.net

The Dawgs tacked on another field goal in the third quarter and entered the fourth with a 13-7 lead. On the third play of the young quarter, Auburn's Lionel James exploded for an 87-yard TD run to give the Tigers a 14-13 lead. The Auburn defense kept Georgia's potent rushing attack at bay until midway through the quarter, but when one tries to keep Herschel Walker at bay, the levy has to break at some point. Bulldog QB John Lastinger assembled an 80-yard drive composed of eight Walker runs and a few timely passes to keep the Auburn defense guessing. Herschel, who had by this point worn out the opposing defenders, found the end zone on a three-yard run to cap the drive. The conversion attempt failed; the Dawgs now led 19-14.

Auburn took the ball at their own 20 and quickly drove down to the Georgia 11 against a tired Bulldog defense, converting three key third downs along the way. 2:39 remained in the game and the Tigers were on the move. With Larry Munson begging the defense to "hunker down one more time," Tiger RB Bo Jackson, admittedly not Herschel, was stopped for a loss of two on first down. On second down, Campbell was sacked by Dale Carver for another loss, making it third and 26. Campbell then completed a pass for nine yards. On fourth down, the Auburn QB looked for a receiver in the Georgia end zone, but safety Jeff Sanchez and cornerback Ronnie Harris rose to the occasion and broke up the pass with 49 seconds left to play.

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Sanchez and Harris breaking Auburn's hearts via 3.bp.blogspot.com

The victory on the Plains ensured top-ranked Georgia's spot in the Sugar Bowl to meet Penn State for the national championship. Larry Munson immortalized this game as time ran out on the Tigers by asking listeners to "look at the sugar falling out of the sky." Here is an abbreviated highlight film with calls and comments from Munson. If you'd like to watch the game in full, it is available on Youtube.

Just a side note: When Munson claimed, "Somebody threw something on us," he actually just had the drink of an inebriated Auburn fan splashed on his face. There are the Auburn fans we know and love.

The gameball for this one has to go to Herschel Walker, who finished with 177 yards and scored the two Georgia touchdowns of the contest. Those 177 yards enabled #34 to become the first junior in college football history to surpass 5,000 career yards. Herschel can also be credited with wearing down and demoralizing a determined Auburn offense and outdueling fellow talented RB Bo Jackson, the 1985 Heisman Trophy winner.

In case you hadn't heard, Herschel Walker is the greatest college running back of all time and likely forever will be. While at UGA from 1980 to 1982, he was an All-American for all three seasons and won the Heisman Trophy and the Maxwell Award in 1982. To date, Herschel is the only college football player to finish in the top three for Heisman voting in all three of his collegiate football seasons. He is also the only three-year college football player to finish in the top ten in rushing yards. #34 left UGA with 5,259 rushing yards, 5.3 yards per carry and 49 TDs.

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A proud moment for Herschel Walker and the University of Georgia via 2.bp.blogspot.com

Walker is one of only four former Bulldogs to have his number retired by the university. The others are, from left, Theron Sapp, Charley Trippi and Frank Sinkwich, UGA's other Heisman Trophy winner (1942).

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Elite company in which to be via grfx.cstv.com

Herschel left UGA early to play for the New Jersey Generals of the newly formed USFL, a league which at the time allowed juniors to enter the draft (the NFL still did not). After three seasons in New Jersey, he made the jump to the NFL, playing from 1985 to 1997 with the Dallas Cowboys (two stints), Minnesota Vikings, Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants. #34 concluded his NFL career with the Cowboys in 1997. Walker's professional football career was not as remarkable as his days as a Bulldog, but he still ranks in the top ten of the NFL's all-time leaders in total yardage and is the only player to gain 4,000 yards three different ways: rushing, receiving and kickoff returns. Not bad.

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Herschel began his pro career in the USFL... via 24.media.tumblr.com

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... and later made the jump to the NFL via cdn2.cagepotato.com

If you think Herschel's remarkable athletic career was based solely on football, you'd be sadly mistaken. Just a few more of his athletic accomplishments include:

  • Fifth-degree black belt in tae kwon do
  • Nearly made the Olympic team in sprint relay
  • Competed in two-man bobsled in the 1992 Winter Olympics
  • One-night performance with the Fort Worth Ballet in 1988

Lately, Herschel has been actively engaged in mixed martial arts and has been competing since 2010. He is 2-0 in major competition and donates his fight purses to charity.

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Would you really want any of this? via cdn.bleacherreport.net

If you are interested in getting a Herschel-style build, you are welcome to adhere to his peculiar diet and training regimen. Walker apparently sleeps only five hours a night, skips breakfast and lunch and is a vegetarian whose diet is composed mostly of soup, bread and salad. He does not lift weights but has a daily fitness regimen of 750 to 1,500 push ups and 2,000 sit ups. Say what you will about his routine. Herschel has been doing this since high school and could probably beat you up.

Herschel married his college sweetheart in 1983, but they divorced in 2002 after 19 years of marriage. They had a son together by the name of Christian. Herschel, a born-again Christian, still has a strong presence in Athens, even if he played his last game between the hedges over three decades ago. He's been known to visit campus from time to time and recently opened a restaurant in town on the corner of Clayton and Jackson Streets downtown.

Please join me in raising a paw to Herschel Walker and the 1982 Georgia Bulldogs for delivering an epic performance in a crucial game on November 13, 1982, a game I consider the best ever played against the Auburn Tigers.

What are some of your favorite battles between these ancient rivals? Georgia wins over Auburn in 1959 and 1966 also yielded SEC championships, but the 1982 game was a perfect example of the dominant, clutch style of football that propelled the Dawgs to the big time in the early 1980s. The sugar just seemed to fall out of the sky for Coach Dooley's teams in the early years of that great decade. The 1996 encounter, the first overtime contest in SEC history, is also noteworthy, albeit largely irrelevant in the grand scheme of Georgia football history as the Dawgs went 5-6 that year. And who could forget the 2002 game that catapulted the Dawgs to the Dome for the first time? Picking the best Georgia-Auburn game was no easy task and I expect and welcome differing opinions in the comments below.

Next stop: The Kentucky Wildcats. Georgia controls this series 52-12-2. Since 1997, the Dawgs are 14-2 against the Cats, but those two losses both have come after 2006, after which time Kentucky has played Georgia a lot tougher than they used to. There have been a couple of great games between these two teams. You know, like the one last season...

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