I said yesterday that Georgia-Auburn is my favorite of UGA’s rivalries. I’m sure a big reason for that is that the Dogs have clinched so many SEC titles against the Tigers, and in keeping with the quirky nature of the series, quite often at Auburn.
But there have also been some terrific upsets by less than great Georgia teams.
Overall, Georgia-Auburn has provided many thrilling moments. Here are the 10 greatest games in the series since I’ve been following the Dogs:
1959: Georgia’s 14-13 win in Athens. After a key fumble recovery by the Dogs’ Pat Dye, who would later become head coach and athletics director at Auburn, Fran Tarkenton threw a fourth-down 13-yard touchdown pass to Bill Heron to secure Wally Butts’ last SEC championship.
1962: Georgia’s 30-21 win at Auburn. Larry Rakestraw threw three touchdown passes to Don Porterfield as the Dogs upset the heavily favored Tigers in the biggest win of coach Johnny Griffith’s short tenure at UGA.
1966: Georgia’s 21-13 win at Auburn. The Dogs were down 13-0 midway through the third quarter, but quarterback Kirby Moore engineered three long scoring drives to clinch Vince Dooley’s first SEC championship.
1968: Georgia’s 17-3 win at Auburn. With Mike Cavan having a sensational sophomore season at QB and Jake Scott and Bill Stanfill the defensive superstars, the No. 5 Dogs beat the No. 12 Tigers to secure Dooley’s second SEC title. This was the game where I clearly remember realizing for the first time that Larry Munson really cared whether the Dogs won.
1982: Georgia’s 19-14 win at Auburn. A classic Georgia defensive stand secured the win with Munson pleading for the Dogs to “hunker down” one more time. After which, of course, it was “Look at the sugar falling out of the sky.”
1986: Georgia’s 20-16 win at Auburn. With starting QB James Jackson attending his grandmother’s funeral, backup Wayne Johnson got the nod and led the Dogs to a major upset over the No. 8-ranked Tigers. An interception by Steve Boswell sealed the win. The game is most notable in UGA football history, though, for Auburn officials turning fire hoses not only on those Georgia fans who had stormed the field, but the ones still in the stands, too.
1996: Georgia’s 56-49 win at Auburn. This one started out sucky, with the Dogs down 28-7. But Mike Bobo led Georgia back to tie the game and send it into four overtime periods. Robert Edwards ran for three touchdowns and Hines Ward caught nine passes for 175 yards as Jim Donnan’s Dogs prevailed in the SEC’s first overtime game.
2002: Georgia’s 24-21 win at Auburn. Another one that started out with the Dogs not looking good, as the Tigers led 14-3 at the half. Everyone remembers how this one ended, but often overlooked is the defensive performance by Sean Jones, who snagged two interceptions and a fumble recovery in addition to returning punts. Then came that thrilling fourth-down pass from David Greene to Michael Johnson with 1:25 left on the clock, giving the Dogs the SEC East title and, eventually, Mark Richt’s first SEC championship. As Munson put it: “Touchdown! Oh, God, a touchdown!”
2006: Georgia’s 37-15 win at Auburn. Nobody gave the Dogs much of a chance against the No. 5-ranked Tigers, but in perhaps Willie Martinez’s finest hour the Georgia defense smacked AU quarterback Brandon Cox in the mouth from the get-go. Tra Battle wound up with three interceptions and the Dogs held Auburn to 171 yards of offense (all but 35 on the ground) while Georgia’s Kregg Lumpkin ran for 105 yards. Those Georgia fans who hope for a strong finish this season point to the 2006 Dogs as inspiration.
2007: Georgia’s 45-20 win in Athens. The “Blackout” game was back and forth for a while, with Auburn taking the lead midway through the third quarter before Georgia ripped off 28 unanswered points. One of the greatest games ever held Between the Hedges.
I get goosebumps just thinking about those games. Are there other Georgia wins over Auburn that stick in your memory?