We're only ten days away from the Georgia Bulldogs' home opener against the Clemson Tigers. Which got me thinking: this will be the fourteenth such game under Mark Richt. Some of them have been against yummy, creamy cupcakes, others have been against solid Power 5 conference opponents. All have had their own character.
But which one was the best? For my money the answer is the 2005 opener against Boise State. Hear me out. Georgia came into that game needing to replace David Greene, the winningest quarterback to that point in college football history and the only starter upon whom Richt had relied in the Classic City.
And while it's practically a century ago in internet years, I remember very vividly that Boise State fans were talking a lot of smack before that game. A lot. Allegedly the Bulldogs had never seen anything like the Boise attack, which had beaten the crap out of a lot of teams (which were glorified Division II schools, but I digress).
The Broncos came to Athens ranked #18 and led by Jared Zabransky, a dark horse Heisman candidate. Georgia on the other hand was ranked a relatively pedestrian #13, looking to replace defensive standouts David Pollack, Thomas Davis, Odell Thurman, and defensive coordinator Brian Van Gorder. The 'Dawgs were led by fifth year senior QB D.J. Shockley. Shockley is now remembered as one of the most brutally efficient signal callers in Bulldog history. But on that afternoon he was the guy not far removed from one of the most dreadful days under center I've ever seen from a veteran Georgia player.
The rest, as they say, is history. Tony Taylor intercepted the first pass Zabransky attempted 7 seconds into the game, setting Georggia up at the Boise 35. The 'Dawgs scored 4 plays later and never looked back. Zabransky was eventually driven from the game after a series of savage hits by Taylor, Quentin Moses, Dannell Ellerbe, and the rest of the Red and Black defense. Georgia put 38 points on the board before the Broncos finally found the end zone in the third quarter.
Shockley accounted for 6 touchdowns (5 through the air and that one on the ground). He was 16 of 24 passing for just short of 300 yards, and half of those 8 incompletions were dropped balls. D.J. rushed for 85 yards, and had the run that would have put him over the century mark on the ground (a 23 yarder) called back. In short, Shockley and the 'Dawgs beat Boise State 48-13, and it could have been worse.
Best of all, Boise State was exposed as not yet ready for prime time. While the Broncos would eventually go on to beat Oklahoma in a memorable BCS bowl performance and avenge that 2005 loss to Georgia behind Kellen Moore, on that afternoon it was great to be a Georgia Bulldog.