Between the hedges: 10 favorites

Someone asked me a month or so ago to list my ten favorite home games that I attended.  I had to think about it a little.  Some games are special because of what happened on the field, some because of what they meant, some because of the crowd, but all resonate in a special way with me.  Here they are, in chronological order:

1979:  Virginia 31 Georgia 0.  Yeah, I know.  But you’ve got to understand that college football and I were in a bad place before that game.  Four years of football in Charlottesville had completely soured me on the game.  But one afternoon rekindled my interest.  I followed that up with my first trip to Jacksonville, something I haven’t missed since.

1982:  Georgia 17 BYU 14.  The meeting of Herschel Walker vs. Steve Young turned out to be a defensive struggle.  I remember it kept raining picks.  And Walker was big on the winning drive.

1984:  Georgia 26 Clemson 23.  Perhaps the most iconic game I’ve witnessed in Sanford Stadium.  It looked like the Dawgs were going to be run out of the stadium in the first half, but somehow they gained traction, wore the Tigers down and won on an incredible Kevin Butler field goal.

1991:  Georgia 27 Clemson 12.  Georgia steamrolled a ranked and favored Clemson team, which was nice.  But what really sticks with me from this game was that it was the night the Atlanta Braves clinched their first division title in a decade.  Upon hearing the news, the entire crowd, home and visitors alike, tomahawk chopped and chanted together in a real goosebump moment.

2002:  Georgia 51 Georgia Tech 7.  Total dominance in a way I’ve never seen again in that series.  I’ve never seen a Tech team give up like that, either.

2004: Georgia 45 LSU 16.  We may never see a Nick Saban defense humbled like that again, my friends.  Five TDs passes for David Greene and some measure of revenge for what happened the year before.

2004: Georgia 19 Georgia Tech 13.  I know the weather was lousy, but between David Greene’s fourth quarter heroics and Reggie Ball’s math shortcomings, how could a Dawg fan not love this game?

2007:  Georgia 45 Auburn 20.  Blackout game.  I’m not sure the players and the crowd ever enjoyed themselves as much as we all did that night.  And maybe learned a lesson that while jerseys can be copied, spontaneity can’t.  Take it away, Uncle Verne.

2013:  Georgia 41, South Carolina 30.  Remember when these games used to be grind ‘em out defensive struggles?  The bomb to Scott-Wesley sent the crowd into a frenzy.  But it’s what happened in the last eight and a half minutes that really made the game special.  Spurrier eschewing the timeout at the end was the cherry on top of the sundae.

2013:  Georgia 44 LSU 41.  We didn’t want a defensive struggle in this one and we didn’t get one.  In terms of sustained crowd loudness, this one surpassed every other one I’ve attended in Sanford Stadium (ironically, the second loudest was during the 1987 loss to LSU).  Mettenberger’s miss on LSU’s last possession was cathartic. So much emotion.

So there you have mine.  Let’s hear about yours.

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60 Comments

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60 responses to “Between the hedges: 10 favorites

  1. charlottedawg

    were you not there for Auburn 2011 Senator?

  2. DawgPhan

    I dont understand. Some of those games were against unranked teams. How could they have been enjoyable. Was it the mascot race? Or the hide Uga?

  3. PTC DAWG

    1969 UGA vs UT, my first game, UGA lost, I did not care. My first game at the age of 6, my Dad took me. The place was HUGE in my little eyes. The bridge was HIGH off the ground. Lots of great memories….

  4. Spike

    For me, the 1978 game against Tech was one of the greatest victories I ever saw.

  5. 81Dog

    I can’t believe you put that UVA game on the list, even though I understand why. That was easily one of the 5 worst games I’ve ever seen in Sanford, the other ones being the Art Still UK game in 78, the almost sleeting Gary Lanier Tech game in 74, the Mike Shula Labor Day Alabama game in whatever year that was (I think my brain is rebelling at the mere memory), and Wuerffel’s trip to Athens in whatever year that was (ditto).

    Those of us with a little more Bulldog in our backgrouds would probably include in a top ten the 76 Alabama game (if you were in Athens that week, no explanation is needed. If you weren’t, no explanation is possible), a crushing win that propelled us to an SEC title, the 80 South Carolina game (the Chickens were having delusions of adequacy that year), a then-rare nationally televised game that propelled us to a national title and proved a freshman deserved the Heisman, even though he didnt get it, and the 78 Tech game, a shootout that started with UGA behind by 20 and ended with a freshman named Buck Belue making an option pitch on a 2 point conversion to Amp Arnold for the soul crushing (if you were a Tech fan) game winning score. Oh, and it caused Pepper Rodgers to get fired, which was made even better by the cheapskates at Tech trying to stiff him for the balance of his contract, resulting in a lawsuit in which he drilled them for the money plus attorney’s fees. Talk about your happy endings.

    • Dog in Fla

      There was a time Tech fired a coach for losing to Georgia?

    • I went up to Athens trying to find tickets to the ’80 SC game and couldn’t scalp any. My biggest missed game regret…

    • Athens Dog

      All of yours would make my list. tech in 78 was my last game as a student. Erk implored the students to come early….we did. Went down 20, came back and won. Amp Arnold “naked and alone” I’ve been to close to 300 UGA games. (I started as a child with my folks) That’s still the best.

    • Nashville West

      The “Art Still UK game” was in ’77, I was there for the whole miserable thing. The ’78 game against UK was in Lexington; Munson’s call of the game winning field goal was a classic.

  6. Tronan

    The Sugar Bowl against Hawaii. Yeah, yeah, it was an obvious mismatch, but the beatdown the Dawgs administered was awe-inspiring.

    • Tronan

      Sorry, “between the hedges” you said. Reading comprehension is hard on a Monday morning.

  7. Bill in Columbus

    2004 auburn was still gives me chills with the blackout. We continue to try and recapture that moment. What we continue to emulate though is the special team play, at the end of that clip, when we kicked it out of bounds.

  8. JN

    Oh Yeah, the last three games I’ve seen in person were LSU 09, Ark 10, and @ AU 13. Beat That!!!

  9. Silver Britches

    See, I thought that ’04 LSU game was the loudest I’d witnessed, but I only go back about 16 years.

    • Maybe it’s just that LSU brings out the best in us.

    • etdawg

      I will always associate the LSU game with the game the next week vs UT. I think it was the game that gave us “Beyond Crompton.”

    • 81Dog

      the 76 Alabama game was the absolute loudest, craziest, most glorious day ever in Sanford. I’ve never seen anything like Athens was the entire week leading up to it. Even in 1980, when it was clear we were in the discussion for a national title, Sanford never got that loud.

      I’ve seen plenty of good games, and plenty of enthusiastic crowds, but I’ve never seen anything like that Alabama game, anywhere, ever. If you weren’t born then, or weren’t a Bulldog then, you missed something really, insanely, absolutely special.

      People were sleeping on the train tracks the night before the game. I lived in River Mill, facing the tracks, and I saw folks dragging coolers and lawn chairs out there at lunchtime Friday. A train tried to pass through early Saturday morning, and the crowd refused to yield; it waited. All night Friday, when cars drove by, if someone yelled “GO DOGS!” there was an eruption of cheers. If someone had the temerity to yell “ROLL TIDE” they were greeted with a hail of rocks. Erk greeted them as the team went into the stadium, and the place went nuts.

      When I see today’s sophisticated, top of the charts SAT undergrads who whine about getting out of bed for a noon kickoff, or who cant show up on time for a 3:30 game, it makes me scoff. Back in the 70s, we had plenty of smart people and plenty of people who could drink your ass under a table, and all of them would be in their seats raising hell at kickoff. To be fair to the current slacker generation, we didn’t have to worry about our I-phones running out of charge, our inability to get a cell signal, or whether we’d get strip searched for liquor on the way into the stadium.

  10. 3rdandGrantham

    SB, I’m curious how you ended up down at UGA/Athens after your time at UVA? Do you still follow UVA football as closely as you do UGA? (I’m guessing not for obvious reasons)

    As mentioned previously, I’m from north Georgia and a UGA alum but moved to C’ville roughly 4 years ago. Though we certainly miss Georgia, especially Athens, the C’ville/Shenandoah Valley region is very special.

    • I’m from Atlanta and knew I was going to come back and practice here.

      And I follow UVA football, but as you surmise, not as closely as the Georgia version. Last Virginia football game I attended was a doozy, though.

      One of my favorite parts of that was when the Tech band mocked Georgia before the game, for some reason, and as the band stopped, you could hear barking all over Scott Stadium in response.

      • 3rdandGrantham

        Interesting. We get to one UVA game a year, and while the atmosphere certainly doesn’t compare to UGA/Sanford, it is more family friendly and far easier to get to/from the stadium. Not to mention cheaper and a much better option if you have young kids to tote around.

        I get quite a few inquiries around town anytime I wear UGA gear. UVA fans seem to have an affinity for UGA; I can’t tell you the number of times a UVA fan has told me that UGA is their second favorite team or favorite SEC program. Older alums also comment positively on Athens while holding C’ville in higher regard, while younger alums (or current students) rave about Athens and wish C’ville was in the same stratosphere when it comes to nightlife options and overall fun.

      • 81Dog

        I remember the last UVA game I saw. It was the 97 Peach Bowl, in which the QB who followed Hines Ward and preceeded David Greene led us back from a 21-0 hole to a win. I especially recall the blizzard of bean bag cows gently helicoptering from the upper reaches of the Dome as we scored the go ahead TD.

        I always pull for UVA when they play Tech, however. So there’s that.

        • clinec@gtlaw.com

          As a UGA undergrad and UVA grad, I think the schools have a natural affinity due to a mutual dislike of Tech. My first UVA game during law school was their first win over Clemson in school history. The best UVA game I attended, alas, was a loss to Tech the same year when Tech went on to “win the national championship” in the Tangerine Bowl.

  11. Damn Senator, you are old. I hope you have contingency plans for this blog in the event you become incapacitated.

  12. Pretty good list there, Senator. I’d agree with most of them. That Clemson game in ’91 was pretty special for the reasons you mentioned. Here are a few that I’d have to consider for Top 10 or at least honorable mention:

    *Tech ’88 – Dooley’s last home game
    *UT 2000 – finally broke the drought. The students trampling the hedges kind of sucked, though.
    *UT ’81 – I’d been going to games for a couple of years as a young kid but that game is the first that I had very vivid memories of. Plus we just beat the crap out of ‘em.
    *Clemson ’82 – My first night game. That blocked punt was so awesome!

    I’d probably put that ’82 Clemson game in there in place of your ’79 UVA and the rest would match up. In terms of a loss that was a huge game, I’d have to consider Auburn 2005.

  13. I didn’t begin to follow UGA until I enrolled, so all of mine are recent, and these aren’t games I attended as much as they are home games I remember the most. In no real order:

    2002: Clemson. Shockley saved the day with his scrambling.
    2005: Boise State. Just a total ass beating.
    2004: LSU. As you said, UGA laid the lumber to a damn good team.
    2004: GT. Watching Reggie Ball throw it away on 4th down is so good.
    2007: OKST. UGA beat the hell out of them from jump street.
    2007: Auburn. I was in Lincoln, Neb. watching a game and left early to see this one in it’s entirety. My brother and I were the only two UGA fans at the bar watching it and were 12-beers deep by the 4th quarter.
    2011: Auburn. After the Fairley cheap shots the year before, watching UGA dominate was special.
    2012: Tennessee. Defense was terrible, but that Gurley run…
    2013: SoCar. After losing three in a row, we needed that.
    2013: LSU. What a hell of a game. Two QBs absolutely dialed in.

  14. RocketDawg

    1978 UGA vs Chickens-My first game at Sanford Stadium. We lost 13-10 I think.
    I had a long drought of not attending games until I met my wife in 1998 so most of mine are recent as well:

    2000 vs UT-Beat the Hillbillies for the first time in forever. Crowd rushed the field.
    2002 vs Clemson-After that game you could just sense that something good was going to happen that season.
    2002 vs Tech-The worst @ss whooping I have ever witnessed in person.
    2004 vs LSU-Saban got owned! Reggie Brown and Fred Gibson had big days.
    2005 vs Auburn-that was a gut wrenching loss but one of the most fun games I have ever attended.
    2006 vs Tech-The Nerds were SURE they were going to beat us that year.
    2008 vs Bama-What most people don’t remember is that team made a HELL of a comeback in the second half.
    2009 vs Chickens-Rennie makes the last second deflection to save the win.
    I sold my tickets after ’09 so I haven’t been to anything but cupcake games since.

  15. Mayor

    Looking back I believe the ’79 UVA-UGA game was a watershed game. The Dawgs got waxed embarrassingly by a team that historically had been a doormat in the ACC. That Georgia team really wasn’t very good at the beginning but only lost 1 SEC game that year and was pretty good by the end of the season. Then 1980 came and we know the rest. That game provided some sort of spark, kick in the butt, whatever you want to call it, that propelled UGA onward, IMHO.

    • ’79 was a really weird season. The Dawgs went into Auburn knowing that if they won that game, they would win the SEC, even though they had lost every OOC conference game to that point (including a really embarrassing loss to an even bigger ACC doormat in Wake Forest).

      At least they came back to beat Tech.

  16. Jack Klompus

    Clempson 91 and LSU last year were by far my favorites. Clempson was probably the best day/night of sports in my life.

  17. Schlagdawg

    Agree with a lot on the list and in the previous comments, one that just misses the top 10 I’ve seen would be the Arizona state game in 09. Pouring rain, AJ Green having a big day and then coming up with the blocked field goal.

  18. BMan

    If I had an equivalent bad game-good feeling, it would be 1977 (I think) Kentucky when Prince Charles was in attendance. Dogs lost something like 33-0 and UK was on probation. Derrick Ramsey (again, I think) was incredible.

    Other notables were 1976 against Cal with Joe Roth, who died of melanoma a few months after the season. 1980 versus Texas A&M, as I was 14 years old and it was Herschel’s first home game. He busted a long one down the left side and just ran away from everyone. 1980 against Tech, spent the second half on the tracks as it was the last game before stadium expansion.

    • 81Dog

      Derrick Ramsey treated our defense like we it was gum in his cleats. That was the most complete butt whipping I’ve ever seen UGA take in person, though a few have felt about as bad. We couldn’t move the ball. We couldn’t stop them from scoring. The whole team basically assumed the fetal position and waited for the clock to run out.

      The only funny thing about that game was that when Prince Charile took the field, he noticed and pointed to a sign waved from the bridge (you could see the field from there, then) saying “Athens Welcomes Prince Charles.” As soon as the holder saw Charile looking, he dropped that one to reveal a sign that said “Prince Charles Does It Dog Style.” Charlie appeared to laugh.Cheeky buggers, eh?

      • Nashville West

        I remember everyone in the stadium chanting “Damn good prince…” and barking. Didn’t James Brown perform at halftime?

  19. paul

    Funny how there are no cupcakes on this list. No one fondly remembers that beat down of a division III opponent.

  20. Brian

    Not sure it is one of my favorite Sanford games buts the fact that Senator mentioned Virginia reminds me of a favorite memory vs UVA in Sanford. I think it was the next game vs UVA after the loss you mention because Munson kept whining about “remember that time….” on the pregame show as we tailgated. It was the opening game of the year. But my memory was of us scoring on a couple early drives and they pull Lars Tate out for a series and I get up to go to the concession stand because “who is 7 anyway?” Well before I could get to the aisle they threw 7 a bubble screen and two linebackers are about to eat him alive…. and neither touches him! He goes another 10 yards or so before being tackled. Yea I found out who Rodney Hampton was pretty quick.

  21. jack

    I have to agree with 81Dog; Bama in 76 was amazing! The riot on the tracks that turned back the train at dawn may have been the most awe inspiring moment, and only those of us who spent the night there or on the bridge witnessed it. That game was won by 7:00am!

  22. Matt b.

    That 100-yd Odell INT-TD vs AU 2003. The stadium was worse than bonkers.

  23. stuckinred

    The 84 Clemson game was my first game in Sanford. The 2007 Auburn game was my birthday and. even though I have been a Dawg for 30 years now, my hometown Fighting Illini beat #1 Ohio State that day as well. I was choppin in high cotton (or corn)!

  24. Bulldog Joe

    Good games on your list except UVA was among the all time worst. Second half downpour and we stayed til the end to watch Tommy Vigorito run all over Erk’s defense.

    Here are ten great ones not on the list…

    1976 21-0 on Alabama. Unexpected shutout.
    1978 29-28 on Georgia Tech. 20 points down.
    1981 24-13 on Auburn. Won the SEC at home.
    1982 13-7 on Clemson. Blocked punt late at night.
    1984 19-8 on UCLA. At 9pm, the game and the downpour started.
    2002 31-28 on Clemson. 4th down conversion in our own territory wins it.
    2002 18-13 on Tennessee. Another late 4th down wins it. Underrated game.
    2003 26 to 7 on Auburn. The Lip Jar game.
    2005 48-13 on Boise State. Zabransky pick fest.
    2006 15-12 on Georgia Tech. Reggie Ball meltdown #4. Massaquoi.

    • stuckinred

      Georgia UCLA was 83 wasn’t it? I recall watching it in Champaign knowing I was moving here the next year.

      • Bulldog Joe

        Yep. 1983 it was. The only game I attended where a rain storm actually fired up the crowd, or did the twelve hours of pregame festivities have something to do with it?

  25. Too many people getting years wrong in this thread. I hold you all in contempt. Auburn blackout was ’07 and not ’04, for example. Quinthy Peach Bowl against UVA was 98 season and in 98. (97 was the Wisconsin black pants game, though it was played on 1-1-98) For some reason, for the big games I can always remember the year.

  26. Mike Cooley

    Being there fore the 2013 LSU game makes up for my missing the 07 blackout game against Auburn. That was a special day to be in Sanford Stadium. I just remember how much fun leaving the stadium was too. My buddy was getting impatient but I was loving every minute of it. Th SC game was great too. Watching Spurrier stand there helpless as we executed a good old fashioned run out the clock drive for about…oh eight minutes and some change was great. Just knowing how it was tearing Spurrier’s guts out was priceless. As we were walking across north campus a drunk frat boy coming from the opposite direction looked at us and said, “I’m looking for Jadaveon Clowney. Didn’t see him the entire game.” Lol. Memories.

  27. Cousin Eddie

    #1. 2013 USCe and #2 2009 Auburn. Both are games me an my oldest son went to alone and totally enjoyed the game. I don’t think he sat down the entire game in 2013 and he hollered Rambo until he could not talk after that game saving/concussion play. To me things like that are what really make the games.

  28. Russ

    1979 Georgia vs LSU. Dawgs had a crappy team that year but beat a more talented LSU team with Charles Alexander. The student section hung around and partied for about an hour or more after the game. That was the first time I really experienced big game excitement in person.

    The next year at the A&M game when Herschel broke the first of many long runs. I (along with everyone else) was flabbergasted by the speed of such a big strong back. Just electric.

  29. IWanaBDaveGrohl

    Gosh, it’s hard to make a top 10 list. I’m going to exclude my first game, because frankly I don’t know which game it was. I want to say the ’95 opener, but I’m not certain.

    2000 Tennessee – My 13 year old self was begging and pleading with my dad and grandad to go join the on field festivities.
    2002 Tech – Absolute beatdown and sweet revenge
    2004 LSU – Same as above
    2005 Boise State – First game as a student.
    2006 Tech – Poor broken nerd hearts.
    2007 Auburn – Blackout
    2008 Bama – Yes, we lost. But I don’t remember the first half, so in my mind we won 30-10. And the Prince Miller punt return may still be the loudest I have ever heard the stadium get. But beyond all that, the atmosphere around that game and on campus that week was incredible. I don’t think anything got done on campus all week.
    2008 Tech – Again, we lost. Again, I don’t remember a half, so we won 28-12. And for a guy who has sex in Sanford on his “to-do” list (see what I did there?), this is the closest I’ve gotten so far.
    2011 Auburn – See 2002 Tech and 2004 LSU. And essentially clinched the East since beating Kentucky was a formality.
    2013 LSU – You know, it may have been a caught in the moment thing, it may have been a moral exclamation point in the recovery from the 2012 SECCG, it may have been a rush of emotion after a wild national game of the week that turned into an instant classic, who knows, but the only thing you need to know is that this game brought men to tears. Mark Richt, myself, and at least 2 other men in the few rows around me alone. And I know we weren’t alone.

  30. stuckinred

    Go Hokies!!!!