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Ranking Our Rivals: The Definitive List

Georgia is everybody’s rival... but some rivals are more equal than others.

NCAA Football: Georgia Spring Game Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Greetings, fellow nomads and travelers through this, the long desert of the offseason! Soon, it will be football time. But soon is not soon enough. I mean, we’ve literally got an entire new season of Game of Thrones to traverse before the Georgia Bulldogs will once again tee it up between the hedges. So, let’s talk about something that’s almost as much fun to talk about as the game itself... our rivals and how clearly terrible they are.

If, for some reason, you’ve been in a cave for the last 125 years, or if you’re under the age of 10 or something, let me catch you up on the status of our rivalries: Everybody’s our rival. That’s been a running joke for the last 20 years, of course, but it’s really not far off the mark. Of the 12 teams on UGA’s schedule this year, no less than 6 of them are legitimately considered a rival by either our fanbase or theirs (or both). And we also have major historical rivals that we’re not even playing this year.

So, as the team whom everybody hates for one reason or another, let’s rank them! #Offseason #Content #PleaseLet’sJustTalkAboutSomething

Best Rivals

In this category, I’m including teams with whom we do have a rivalry, but for whatever reason, it’s not particularly filled with enmity. With these rivals, we actually kind of like playing them, and we mostly enjoy tailgating and/or partying with opposing fans before, and sometimes even after, the game.

1) Missouri Tigers

The budding rivalry between Georgia and Mizzou is quite young, and some folks might disagree with me here that it’s a rivalry at all. But this is a matchup that has been steadily and very sneakily built up over the last 5 years. Georgia was Mizzou’s first SEC opponent, and though we have a 4-1 edge in games played so far, 3 of those 5 games have been very tight affairs. (The 2012 final score looks like a blowout, but that was a 1-score game until late in the 4th quarter.)

In 2012, Mizzou pushed to the limit a UGA team that would come 5 yards short of a national title. In 2013, Mizzou whipped the Dawgs in Athens enroute to an Eastern Division championship. In 2014, we got the Tigers back in CoMo with our own whipping, but they ended up winning the East again anyway. And the 2015 and 2016 games were decided by a total of 4 points. All of our games have been meaningful and/or dramatic, and that’s what rivalries are made of.

I’ve ranked the Tigers from the “good Columbia” #1 here for two reasons: their fans and their location. Every time I’ve interacted with Mizzou fans, I’ve been treated well and have had a fantastic time. And Columbia, Missouri, is a magnificent college town. Perhaps second only to Athens in the SEC. It’s a helluva lot better than that other Columbia we have to see every other year, that’s for damn sure.

2) Clemson Tigers

Look, the damn kids nowadays don’t really consider Clemson a rival, but I’m old enough to remember when we played the Country Gentlemen every year. We traded Clemson for South Carolina as an annual opponent in 1992, and it still took 20 years for the UGA/SCAR game to become more-played than the UGA/Clemson game. (Seriously... 2012 was the year it happened.)

Back in the heyday of Bulldog/Big Cat Paw enmity (i.e., the 1980’s), there was no love lost between fanbases or teams... but in today’s world, that hatred has simmered down considerably. In fact, I’d call it a downright mutual respect society now. I’m not going to say Clemson fans are classy and fun to be around, especially when they win, and I’m also not going to claim that Clemson, SC is a wonderful, easily-accessible place to visit. But I really like it when we do (finally, occasionally) play them. They’re one of our oldest historical rivals that was dropped for conference expansion reasons, and that’s a pity. So whenever we play the men from Auburn-with-a-lake, I thoroughly look forward to the experience. That’s good enough to get them #2 on this list.

3) Ole Miss Rebears

Speaking of rivals that got dropped for conference scheduling reasons, hello University of Mississippi. And they’re still in our conference. After the Saturday Evening Post scandal in the early 1960’s, Georgia and Alabama decided they’d better lay off on playing each other for a while. So starting in 1966, the Classic City Canines replaced the Tide on their annual conference opponent list with the Rebels. That annual matchup continued unabated until the SEC decided to drop from 2 permanent cross-division rivals to 1 in 2003, and since Georgia had to play Auburn every year, a 37-year rivalry was scrapped in the name of “progress.”

I don’t think the Ole Miss rivalry was ever particularly “heated.” Ole Miss fans aren’t too crazy (or, well, not any more than ours), and they’ve got The Grove, so you can’t really hate ‘em. Plus, we usually beat ‘em, so that helped. As a UGA fan, I always looked forward to a trip to Oxford. It’s a great place to go and definitely not visit Graceland first and then gamble in Tunica the rest of the weekend.

4) LSU Tigers

I don’t know that you can strictly call Georgia/LSU a rivalry, since we’ve been in the same conference with the Bayou Bengals for 120 years, but we’ve only played them 30 times. But we’ve only played Mizzou 5 times, and I included that rivalry in my list based on the importance and drama in those games. But the Dawgs have played LSU in 3 of our 5 SEC Championship Game appearances. And not only that, but the most recent regular-season matchup between these teams produced one of the all-time greatest QB duels in Georgia history (Murray vs. Metzenburger, when Mark Richt cried in the victorious postgame press conference). Therefore, I’m going to count it for the purposes of this list, but I’m placing the Tigers from the real Death Valley last in the list based on the thinness of the argument that they’re a rival at all.

And I hope I don’t have to tell you that LSU fans are some of the best (and most aggressive) damn fans in the SEC. They’ll verbally abuse the hell out of you, and then feed you the best gumbo you’ve ever eaten until you throw up. Fan-damn-tastic folks, the lot of ‘em. And Death Valley is one of the 3 best venues in the world to watch a football game (all located in the SEC, of course).

And now, to the really fun list...

Worst Rivals

Alright, these are the programs that we hate. More specifically, though, these are the programs whose teams or fans just annoy the living hell out of us. This list is not ordered as a ranking of schools we collectively hate the most, mind you. This is a list of the schools that are just the absolute worst rivals. Like, they’re just terrible friggin’ rivals for us. My question is: Why are we even forced to be rivals with the top 3 teams on this list?

1) Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

There are pathetic little brothers like Auburn to Alabama, Oklahoma State to OU, and Texas to Texas A&M. But Georgia Tech is just an insipid little brother. They’re the absolute worst kind of “rival” to have.

Georgia Tech sucks. And their fans know they suck. You get no real pleasure when you beat them, and you get massive grief if you lose to them (not that we’d know too much about that). Their entire program’s massive inferiority complex is matched only by Donald Trump’s obsessive need to compare hand sizes with every single person he comes into contact with. Tech fans are insufferable when they win, pathetic when they lose, and simply unbearable for the other 364 days of the year.

And not only that, Tech hasn’t had a multi-game winning streak over us since the 1989 and 1990 seasons. (1998-2000 doesn’t count, because Jasper Sanks was down in the ‘99 game, which means he didn’t fumble, which means we didn’t lose the game.)

Why do we even play these nerds anymore? Texas got to dump A&M after they switched conferences, and Kansas got to dump Mizzou for the same reason. (Same for Oklahoma/Nebraska, Colorado/Nebraska, and even Virginia/Maryland.) The Golden Tornado left the SEC in Nineteen Sixty Four. We’ve been in the same conference more recently with Tulane than we have been with the Engineers, but you don’t see the athletic department clamoring for an annual series with the Green Wave.

Georgia Tech is just the worst. The damn worst.

2) South Carolina Gamecocks

Carolina is almost as bad as Georgia Tech. They’re already Clemson’s little brother, but since their SEC move they’ve been only too happy to glom onto us like that pathetic little neighborhood parasite whose older brother moved off to college, but he still needs a bigger kid to feel inferior to, so he stands outside your window and yells at you at 1:00 in the morning just because you happen to live next door to the little bastard.

Before they joined the SEC in 1992, South Carolina was no more a rival of ours than Tennessee was (see the next entry on this list). Unless you live within 50 miles of the Georgia/South Carolina border, you might not particularly consider them a meaningful rival even now. But ask a SCAR fan who their biggest rivals are, and some of them will actually struggle between naming Clemson or UGA first.

Thanks, but we don’t need another little brother. We’ve already got one in-state and one out-of-state pathetic sibling. Why don’t you pick on somebody your own size, like Kentucky?

3) Tennessee Volunteers

Tennessee doesn’t belong as a rival of ours any more than either of the previous entries on our list. Before the SEC went to divisions and forced us to play them every year, the Dawgs and the Vols had only played a total of 21 times... fewer times than we had played North Carolina, Tulane, or even friggin’ Mercer. But look, at least the Vols have been historically competitive and a decent team. And they had the good fortune to add us to their schedule right at the beginning of the Goff & Donnan years, so they racked up a decade-long winning streak before we started fielding decent teams again.

Ultimately, Tennessee is a rival now, if for no other reason than the fact that we’ve now played them 46 times and haven’t finished flipping the series record back in our favor yet. But we share nothing in common historically with their program or their fans (who have historically played teams that are now in the western division). Going to Knoxville is like going to an alien planet; one that has a giant disco ball on a big stand just down the street from a massive erector set that can comfortably seat less than 100,000 people.

We play Tennessee only because we have to, and they’re our rival because we haven’t beaten them enough times to make them irrelevant to us yet. That’s good for #3 on this list.

4) Auburn Tiglesmen

And, finally, we get to the rivals that are actual historical rivals, and against whom we have real shared history that causes us to hate their guts. Unfortunately, Auburn is little more than our out-of-state little brother, which places them higher on this list than the final entry below.

Auburn had such a strong Napoleon complex towards Alabama that they didn’t even play them for decades, which meant that their little-brother-ness was solely focused on the Classic City for many years. They’ve been doing a strong job at making up for those decades of missed big brother/little brother sniping, but all you have to do is spend 5 minutes with an Auburn fan to know just how strongly their inferiority complex still stands firmly in place vis a vis the Georgia Bulldogs.

But like I said, they are actually a major historical rival of ours, and they have had on-field success recently in areas that don’t include “beating Georgia more than one time this decade.” So while they’re definitely tuerrible, I guess they’re not the worst worst.

5) Florida Gators

My friends, I don’t know what to say, other than I sincerely apologize for disappointing you and letting you down. In a list rivals of the Georgia Bulldogs, I have ranked Florida last.

Mind you, this is a list of rivals that are just horrible rivals for us, and Florida is the perfect rival. But still, I feel like I have in some way forsaken my solemn duty to you as the Executive Director in Charge of Hating Florida® at Dawg Sports.

So let me be crystal clear: I hate Florida with the fire of a thousand suns being fueled by the fire of an additional thousand suns. If had to choose between cheering for the Gators or going blind, I would start learning braille. I. Hate. Florida.

But come on! Florida is just so hateable. Everybody hates Florida. Even Florida fans hate Florida and their sharkophiliac head coach. We’ve played them for decades, and we have the best neutral-site game in the country annually against them. They’re a perfect rival for us, which means that for the purposes of this ranking, I must place them last.

I’m so sorry.

Not a rival

Finally, the wannabes. Kid, just go home before you hurt yourself. You’re not our rival, no matter how much you wish you were.

1) Vandy

2) Kentucky

3) Georgia Southern

Agree with my rankings? Disagree? Want to tell me I suck? Let me know in the comments! Let’s drown our collective misery in this horrible, dry, barren land that is this offseason, and let us collectively calm each other’s withdrawal tremors with the knowledge that football is, indeed, coming soon... and yeah, Georgia Tech still does just plain suck.

Go Dawgs!