Having already been credited with redefining obsession through my recent series on Georgia superlatives, I now return to the topic at hand, because, well, frankly . . . there's just too much greatness in Bulldog football lore for me to leave it at just five or 10 top performances.
Here now, without further ado, are Five More of the Best Team Performances in Georgia Football History:
November 21, 1936: Georgia 7, Fordham 7---Yes, it was just a tie, but it put Bulldog football on the map. The game was played in New York City and the "Seven Blocks of Granite" were the third-ranked squad in the fledgling Associated Press poll. The Red and Black were 4-4, but Harry Mehre's squad got the attention of the northeastern news media by matching formidable Fordham, which was coming off of a bye week and sporting a 5-0-1 record. (The earlier deadlock had come against the Rose Bowl-bound Pittsburgh Panthers, who finished the season with an 8-1-1 ledger and a No. 3 ranking in the final A.P. poll.) This important road game was a major milestone on Georgia's road to national respectability and the Bulldogs' present stature is in no small degree attributable to the Red and Black's tie in the Big Apple seven decades ago.
Georgia prepared for its 1936 showdown with Fordham's "Seven Blocks of Granite" by scrimmaging with Stone Mountain.
November 28, 1942: Georgia 34, Georgia Tech 0---Any day your alma mater beats its in-state rival 34-0 is a good day, but this one was better than most. When top-ranked Ohio State lost to Wisconsin on Halloween, the Bulldogs took over the No. 1 spot in the A.P. poll. The Red and Black responded to this lofty ranking by throttling Florida, 75-0. In the meantime, the Yellow Jackets had risen steadily in the sportswriters' poll, as well, and, in the rankings released on November 9, Georgia and Georgia Tech were ranked first and second in the land, respectively. The Bulldogs' subsequent loss to Auburn dropped them down a peg, but the season-ending battle in Athens remained a clash of top five teams, with Georgia Tech ranked second and Georgia ranked fifth. Peach State bragging rights, conference standings, national rankings, and a Rose Bowl berth were among the spoils of victory and, while the home team was favored, the Golden Tornado was handed a golden opportunity when the Yellow Jackets' opening kickoff was fumbled by the Bulldogs' return man, giving the Ramblin' Wreck possession of the ball at their opponents' 36 yard line. Stout Georgia defense, a 15-yard penalty, and a poor punt gave the 'Dawgs the ball back at their own 24. On Georgia Tech's next possession, the third-place finisher in the Heisman Trophy balloting (Clint Castleberry) threw a pass that was intercepted by the winner of that coveted award (Frank Sinkwich). The Bulldogs turned that pick into a touchdown and the Yellow Jackets were never thereafter in the game. Georgia Tech completed a 9-2 season with a Cotton Bowl loss to Texas, whereas Georgia concluded an 11-1 campaign with a win over U.C.L.A. in the Rose Bowl after exacting revenge on the Yellow Jackets for their upset of the Bulldogs' 1927 "Dream and Wonder Team" 15 years before.
November 13, 1982: Georgia 19, Auburn 14---The 'Dawgs clinched their third straight S.E.C. title by winning their 18th consecutive conference game in a battle royal on the Plains. It was Herschel Walker's last season in Athens and Pat Dye's second season at Auburn. The former Georgia guard had Bo Jackson in the backfield and a confident team boasting a 7-2 record waiting to greet the undefeated Bulldogs. It was an old school Southeastern Conference contest that today would be classified as an instant classic. The Red and Black rose to the occasion as the defense responded to Larry Munson's pleading that they hunker down one more time. When the Bulldog D held, the loyal fan in the broadcast booth observed, "Look at the Sugar falling out of the sky!"
Bo Jackson holds the impressive distinction of being the second-best running back wearing the number 34 to have played in the 1982 Georgia-Auburn game.
October 5, 1991: Georgia 27, Clemson 12---Some have called this the greatest day in Red and Black sports history, since the 'Dawgs beat the Tigers, Auburn and Georgia Tech both lost, the Atlanta Braves clinched the first of their 14 consecutive awarded division titles, and Jan Kemp went to jail. I am ashamed to admit that I didn't attend this game. One week earlier, Cal State-Fullerton had played toe to toe with the Bulldogs all afternoon and I was confident that sixth-ranked Clemson would slaughter the Red and Black between the hedges, so I let someone else use my ticket and missed what was to be Georgia's last win at home against a top 10 opponent for the next 11 years. The nationally televised night game started out as a defensive struggle, as the Tigers tied the game on a 27-yard field goal with 45 seconds remaining until halftime. Rather than have his true freshman quarterback, Eric Zeier, kneel out the clock and take a 3-3 deadlock into the locker room, Ray Goff made the smartest gamble of his coaching career. On the ensuing possession, Zeier threw a 59-yard bomb to Arthur Marshall that put Georgia on Clemson's eight yard line. Zeier's next pass went to Andre Hastings in the end zone with 13 seconds showing on the clock. The 'Dawgs had the lead and the momentum at the break and they never looked back, handing the Tigers from Lake Hartwell what was to be their only regular season setback of the 1991 campaign.
October 11, 2003: Georgia 41, Tennessee 14---Dyslexic Volunteer fans everywhere celebrated the tie, but the rest of us witnessed a first-class stomping. The 13th-ranked Big Orange hosted No. 8 Georgia in Knoxville for what was expected to be a close contest. It wasn't. Four Tennessee turnovers---two fumbles and two interceptions---produced 24 Georgia points, none of which were bigger than the ones that came just before halftime. Although the 'Dawgs had outplayed the Vols in the first half, the Red and Black clung to a 13-7 lead with seconds remaining in the second quarter and U.T. on Georgia's one yard line. Casey Clausen was supposed to be the go-between who got the ball from the center to the running back. He wasn't. Instead, the trash-talking Tennessee quarterback fumbled the football, which was scooped up by the Bulldogs' Sean Jones and returned 92 yards to give the Red and Black a 20-7 halftime lead and the benefit of what Mark Richt called "the largest momentum swing I've ever seen." Truthfully, the final score made the game look closer than it actually was; the Volunteers' first touchdown came on a 90-yard pass that really ought to have gone down in the record book as an interception followed by a strip rather than as a reception and U.T.'s final score came with 46 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, after everybody who was anybody was riding the bench. The Bulldogs went on to claim their second straight Eastern Division crown.
And now, your moment of Fenn: