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 Kentucky Wildcats.
October 28, 1978
Commonwealth Stadium, Lexington, KY
Georgia: 17, Kentucky: 16
Georgia PK Rex Robinson came up big in this one via img.fanbase.com
The average Georgia football fan probably feels the same way about Kentucky's football team as the average Kentucky basketball fan feels about Georgia's basketball team. These teams are, more often than not, in different leagues in their respective "big sports" on campus. However, the Kentucky game once held a prominent spot in many a Georgia football fan's heart back when the game in Lexington was held at night and in the month of October. For years, Georgia fans made the trip up and took in a horse race at Keeneland during the day and the UGA-UK game at night. But in 2003, the series was moved to November, a month during which Keeneland is closed, and the once beloved tradition met its unfortunate and anticlimactic end.
The Georgia Bulldogs and Kentucky Wildcats have played annually since 1956, two short years after Paul "Bear" Bryant left UK for Texas A&M. The Dawgs have played only five other teams more than the Cats. Although few of these 66 games have made their way into the Georgia football memory book, the 1978 contest is one that should be known to all in red and black.
The 1978 Georgia Bulldogs were known throughout the season as the "Wonderdogs" due to their knack for pulling last-minute victories out of thin air in a season in which they were picked to finish toward the bottom of the SEC standings. Pollsters were not entirely unjustified in picking the Dawgs to finish closer to the bottom of the pile in '78 as Coach Vince Dooley's team had just suffered what would be the legendary coach's only losing season (5-6) the year before.
Georgia entered the 1978 Kentucky game ranked 16th in the land with a 5-1 record, a far cry from what the preseason prognosis had suggested. Through the first half of the contest, it looked as if the lowly 1977 Dawgs had returned. Kentucky, who just the previous year humbled the Georgia 33-0 between the hedges (and in the presence of Prince Charles), jumped out to a 16-0 lead by the halfway mark of the third quarter.
Coach Dooley telling the Prince he is no longer welcome in Athens via pictures.historicimages.net
In that third quarter, Bulldog quarterback Jeff Pyburn and the Georgia offense took over, launching an all-out assault on the UK defense. Running back Willie McClendon (Bryan's father), the SEC's leading rusher at the time, scored on a three-yard run with 6:49 in the quarter, cutting the Cats' lead to 16-7.
Willie McClendon via a.espncdn.com
In the fourth, Pyburn found tight end Ulysses Norris for a six-yard TD with 10:09 remaining in the game. The Kentucky lead was now only 16-14. With just over four minutes remaining in the contest, Kentucky tried to add to their lead but place kicker Tommy Griggs missed a 42-yard field goal. It was a rough day for Griggs, who had missed an extra point attempt earlier on in the game.
Jeff Pyburn via img.fanbase.com
Pyburn then teamed up with McClendon and wide receivers Amp Arnold and Lindsay Scott to end up on the Wildcat 12 in only 12 plays. With eight seconds remaining, Georgia PK Rex Robinson hit a 29-yard FG that edged just inside the left upright, an victory befitting a team known as the "Wonderdogs."
Larry Munson had a way of making great plays just that much greater via upload.wikimedia.org
As if the game weren't remarkable enough on its own, Larry Munson, as he was known to do, cemented this game in history with yet another famous call. As Robinson's kick sailed through the uprights, Munson never called it good. The legendary broadcaster simply cried out, "Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah!... The bench is unconscious. He kicked the whatchamacallit out of it!" Here is a link to Munson's call with commentary.
Rex Robinson later helped UGA win the 1980 national title via www.footballspeakers.com
The work of kickers often goes un- or under-appreciated, but Georgia has had some phenomenal ones over the years. We should tip our hats to each and every one of them. Had Kevin Butler not been his immediate successor, Rex Robinson's name likely would have been a household one for generations. He deserves the game ball for this game-clinching kick.
Rex Robinson grew up idolizing the NFL's latest craze- soccer style kickers. By the time he hit high school, he was already nailing 51-yarders. He received a multitude of scholarship offers out of Marietta High School, but ultimately committed to UGA in 1977. #5 led the Dawgs in scoring and made the All-SEC Freshman Team his first year of kicking between the hedges. Robinson was First Team All-SEC in 1978, '79 and '80 and made numerous All-America teams in his last two seasons as a Bulldog.
Robinson left Athens with several SEC records, including single-season FG% (88.2%), career points (269), career field goals (56) and consecutive extra points (101). He ranked second in NCAA history in career field goals and consecutive extra points at the time. #5 made six field goals over 50 yards, including two 57-yarders in 1980, his senior season. Robinson was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals, as many great Georgia players tend to be these days, in 1981 and played for the New England Patriots in the strike-shortened 1982 season.
In 2007, Robinson was honored as UGA's representative at the SEC Legends Dinner in conjunction with that year's conference title game. He now works for Pro Sports Team Outfitters in Atlanta. Robinson has worked with hundreds of aspiring kickers since 1996 and operates a kicking instruction service called Total Kicker.
Robinson shaping the minds of great young kickers at Total Kicker via api.ning.com
Please join me in raising a paw to Rex Robinson and the 1978 Georgia Bulldogs for delivering an epic performance in a crucial game on October 28, 1978, a game I consider the best ever played against the Kentucky Wildcats.
Were you one of the Dawg fans that made the trip up Lexington for a horse race and a football game? Or did you just go to the game? I myself could never do anything before a Georgia football game that would take me out of the pigskin mindset. What are some of your other favorite contests against the Cats? Georgia took it easy on them this past season. Do you expect a more thorough humbling of our visitors from the Bluegrass State to make amends in 2013?
Last Stop: The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. This was once a fierce and evenly-matched rivalry years ago; believe it or not, our little brothers from Atlanta even bested us eight years in a row from 1949-56. This GT winning streak was so painfully received in Athens that the UGA athletic association retired Theron Sapp's number 40 for scoring the winning touchdown that ended the streak in 1957. I've heard the 1978 Tech game was among the best ever played in Sanford Stadium. Bob McWhorter, UGA's first All-American, gave the Red and Black faithful something to cheer about in 1910. Who could forget Corey Allen's game-saving grab in 1997? These are just a few that come readily to mind. Please share some of your favorite games against Tech in the comments below.
Note: I know I've been posting these every other day but I might have to break the trend for the grand finale. My apologies if you looked forward to these on schedule, but I promise I'll make the Tech post well worth it. If you're traveling to Athens for G-Day, be safe, have fun and Go Dawgs! Wish I could be there.