Revisiting the heartbreak of the Dog House of Pain

Herschel Walker's great career ended on a losing note in a definite House of Pain game. (File)

Herschel Walker's great career ended on a losing note in a definite House of Pain game. (File)

As much as college football fans love to relish great wins from the past, they also can’t help reliving the big ones that got away. It’s an intrinsic part of sports, as the old ABC “Wide World of Sports” opening so vividly summed up with the line about the “thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.”

Along those lines, ESPN.com has been revisiting what it calls the House of Pain, with a list of the 50 most painful outcomes in college football history. Now, any loss is painful to a fan, especially games like the Dogs losing to Vandy in Athens in 2006. But that’s not what ESPN was going for here. Rather, they’re talking about losses where the stakes were high, the rivalry was intense and the pain and humiliation was long-lasting.

It’s only been a couple of years, but the 2008 “blackout” game against Alabama is more like it.

Still, there’ve been games for the Dogs that were higher on the heartbreak scale than the loss to Bama. ESPN’s SEC blogger, Chris Low, came up with his own list of most agonizing losses for each conference team, and interestingly Georgia figured in another one besides its own. For Florida, Low picked the Dogs’ 27-10 win over the Gators in 1966 when Vince Dooley’s team dashed eventual Heisman winner Steve Spurrier’s hopes of an SEC title.

For Georgia, Low’s choice of most agonizing loss is hard to argue with: Penn State’s 27-23 victory in the Jan. 1, 1983 Sugar Bowl, a virtual national championship game that matched the previously undefeated, No. 1-ranked Bulldogs against the No. 2 Nittany Lions. As Low noted, “Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker played his final game for the Bulldogs and didn’t have a run that was longer than 12 yards.”  Herschel did end up with 103 yards rushing and one touchdown, but Penn State’s Curt Warner ran for 177 and two scores and future SEC TV analyst Todd Blackledge clinched the win with a touchdown throw to Gregg Garrity.

Sure, losing the national championship in that game hurt, but the Nittany Lions got out to a 20-3 lead and the Dogs never really got on track. The final result wasn’t that big a surprise.

So you could make the case that there’ve been more agonizing losses for the Dogs that made up in closeness what they lacked in national import.

For instance, a personal sore spot is the 1993 loss to the Gators by a mediocre Georgia team. On a miserable rainy day in Jacksonville, Eric Zeier led the Dogs back to what appeared to be the game-tying touchdown with just 5 seconds left, only to have one of the officials reveal that he had read the mind of a Florida cornerback who wanted to call timeout just before the ball was snapped. A pass interference call on the Gators on the next play gave the Dogs one last chance after time had expired but Zeier threw incomplete and Florida won 33-26. That one still rankles.

Or how about the Jan. 1, 1982, Sugar Bowl against Pittsburgh, a game where the lead was swapped five times. It wasn’t for the national championship, but No. 2 Georgia finally lost to the No. 8 Panthers when Dan Marino threw a 33-yard touchdown pass with 35 seconds left for a 24-20 win.

Another game residing in the Dog House of Pain is the 1999 grudge match against Georgia Tech in Atlanta. On a day when almost no defense was played, the score was tied 48-48 in the closing seconds of regulation and an official ruled that the Dogs’ Jasper Sanks fumbled at the goal line, although replays clearly showed Sanks was down before the ball came loose. Tech went on to win the game 51-48 in overtime. A lotta pain there.

And then there’s the 2002 game in Jacksonville when a clearly superior Georgia team went 0-13 on third-down conversions against a struggling Ron Zook Gator team. With Florida leading 20-13, Georgia had a chance to tie the game when David Greene threw to a wide open Terrence Edwards at the Florida 30, but Edwards dropped the ball. The Dogs finished 13-1 and that loss probably cost Mark Richt his best shot at playing for a national championship.

House of Pain, indeed.

Do you agree with Low’s choice of the loss to Penn State as Georgia’s most agonizing, or does one of these other games hurt more? Any other game that you think belongs in the Dog House of Pain?

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205 comments Add your comment

Jim Doanan as in Doans Pills

August 7th, 2010
11:34 am

Leroy1970

August 7th, 2010
11:38 am

rrgunn

August 7th, 2010
11:39 am

Think you meant “Auburn” for the Blackout game, right?

rrgunn

August 7th, 2010
11:41 am

have to correct myself, we did where black for Bama in 2008. Guess I tried to block it out of my mind.

Treadways revenge

August 7th, 2010
11:41 am

The David Treadway last second kick to beat the Dawgs in 86 that was the the start of three straight Clemson victorys over the Dawgs thru 1990. Clemson folks Chanted Butler who?

Billy Jack could fight

August 7th, 2010
11:42 am

the loss to Pittsburgh I remember too well…Dooley chose to blitz we didn’t get to Marino and he completed a 4th down TD pass to win the game….

Willie Martinez

August 7th, 2010
11:45 am

The 4th and a mile by Auburn in 2005 which revealed the incompetence of my wait and see defense. Followed by the loss to WVU in the Sugar.

Knoshow

August 7th, 2010
11:49 am

The 16 – 12 loss at home to a pathetic SC team in 2007 without scoring a single TD. Eventually knocked UGA out for possibly playing for the MNC.

Ray Goof days are here again !!

August 7th, 2010
11:52 am

The half a hundred hung on the dawgs by the Gators back to back seasons and in Sanford Stadium too.

Class of '98

August 7th, 2010
11:53 am

The 1997 Auburn game stung as well.

But for me, the #1 most painful game was 2002 Florida.

northgadawg

August 7th, 2010
11:56 am

How about the lsu game last year could have been a different season had that call not been made on aj

Correction !!! Treadwells revenge

August 7th, 2010
11:59 am

Opps……. Make that David Treadwell ! He also did it twice to beat the Dawgs

dawgfan

August 7th, 2010
12:05 pm

northgadawg, did you see our defense last year? It was a tough loss but don’t get carried away.

This is kind of random and not that significant but 1999 Auburn was my lowest point as a Dawg fan. It was cold, rainy, and we got our arses kicked all over the field. They should have fired Donnan on the spot.

Snoop Dawg

August 7th, 2010
12:06 pm

Worst game in recent memory for Snoop was that total smackdown by Alabama when the Preacha Man was concentrating on Blackout gimmicks instead of coaching up all that home grown talent he had. The Tale of Two States continues today as our dumb neighbors to the west are evidently smarter than us in hiring a coach rather than a logo…

boots

August 7th, 2010
12:06 pm

I hurt just remembering these loses. I would add to them the drubbing UT put on us a few years ago in Athens and when Florida put over 50 on us in Athens. Those both sucked pretty bad, too.

BobDog

August 7th, 2010
12:10 pm

I agree. The Penn State loss cost us a national championship. We came out very lethargically and couldn’t dig ourselves out of the hole, even though we made it interesting.

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Ray Goof days are here again !!

August 7th, 2010
12:18 pm

Losing to Vandy on homecoming in 94 and 06. Very embarrassing!

Dawg House

August 7th, 2010
12:18 pm

As much as Tech fans will love to read this (because god knows they are obsessed with all things UGA, especially this blog), the 45-42 loss in 2008 really burned me more than any game in recent memory. UGA came out gunning, and looked like it was going to be another stomping of the state’s JV squad, but the nasty weather, and I feel lack of effort by a certain tackler in what was winding up a depleted season, had us coming up short.

Watching the Nerd’s players vandalize our hedges afterwards, upset the hell out of me and all of Dawg nation. I guarantee you if that happens again, some players will be leaving the field in full pads and handcuffs. Anyway, that game is what made last season’s 30-24 win over the bugs the sweetest win I can remember recently. We all saw how immature they acted for 365 days after their win in Athens, and it was a great justice to semi-shut them up. They now sit here and say “that win made your season”….. you’re damned right it did!!

Here is the best video out there to sum up just how bitter, and sweet this rivalry has become the last couple of years between the Dawgs and Nerds. Enjoy!!!!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5TsUPXUNAmY

Frank Lane

August 7th, 2010
12:18 pm

the two I remember most vividly are the losses to Blackledge at Penn State and Marino at Pittsburgh.

ca dawg

August 7th, 2010
12:22 pm

i remember that 1993 game and it stung pretty bad. 2005 auburn was awful, too. 2004 home loss to terrible UT team was just pathetic and cost us the division that year. last year’s LSU loss was bad but wouldn’t have made much difference ultimately.

but yeah, it’s got to be 2002 florida. damn those gators.

tbone

August 7th, 2010
12:22 pm

I indeed hurt remembering all of those significant losses & would add the last loss to GT to that list as 1 of the major ones. However, I can remember a lot of major wins going back to Tarkington to Herron against Auburn in 1959 to give Coach Butts his last SEC title. A lot of good to go with a lot of bad. It Is college football in the South,

Complete meltdown

August 7th, 2010
12:28 pm

Losing to the Zookster in 2002 still burns in the deepest pits of my stomach.

Scott W.

August 7th, 2010
12:34 pm

I agree with the 2007 loss to USC, completely inept never want to see that again.

Dawgtards ruin this state

August 7th, 2010
12:34 pm

You’re real house of pain is the whole city of JAX.

Dawgtards ruin this state

August 7th, 2010
12:36 pm

How about CPJ and GT beating the self proclaimed best team in the history of thUGA in the sewage at Stanford stadium in 2008?

SSIgator

August 7th, 2010
12:37 pm

“Revisiting the Gator Bowl House of Pain”

Spurrier 11-1

Zook 2-1

Meyer 4-1

Ouch

Concerned

August 7th, 2010
12:40 pm

In my life that I remember…
Auburn in ‘71
Pitt in ‘81
Alabama in ‘85
Florida in ‘92, ‘00, ‘02, ‘03, & ‘05
Auburn in ‘05
The Ray Goff era
and any other time Georgia lost

@Dawghouse

August 7th, 2010
12:42 pm

You freakin Moron – In 2008 GT made offense adjustments at halftime and thUGA couldn’t figure out we were pitching out side instead of running up the middle. I could see the adjustment from the stands, but your coaching staff was clueless. Blame that loss on your gameplan from half time on, not 1 tackler. I made it down to the sespool you call a stadium and got my latest piece of hedge marking another GT victory. thUGA will logo stomp other schools, oooohhh but don’t touch our hedges??? Another delusional thUGA thought.

Chazzo

August 7th, 2010
12:52 pm

Add to the list Dooley’s loss to Tony Dorsett and Pitt in the Sugar Bowl. You gotta love vince, but the man was incapable of deviating from a gameplan.

@Dawghouse is right.

Tide Roll

August 7th, 2010
12:54 pm

It Had to hurt losing to Ole Miss. the week after beating Ala. 21-0 in Athens in 1976.

PDawg

August 7th, 2010
1:03 pm

The next two which will probably be South Carolina and Arkansas. I think we are overrated.

Scott W.

August 7th, 2010
1:07 pm

Sure because logo stomping and tearing apart someone’s stadium is the same thing. Remembering what was the cause of the loss aside, why don’t you roll out in your jalopy?

Chazzo

August 7th, 2010
1:09 pm

PDawg,
I ain’t saying we’ll play for the crystal. I am saying we have ten returning starters on O and a considerably lighter schedule than the previous two seasons. How is #21 in the nation over-rated?

Thumper

August 7th, 2010
1:12 pm

@dawghouse………..”sespool”?……”marking yet another GT victory”…….really? Are you retarded? Before you call someone a moron think about what you post panty waste.

Gatorbait 17-3

August 7th, 2010
1:14 pm

I think you are right PDawg, starting 1-2 WILL be a house
of pain for Richt. If that happens the dawgs will struggle
for the rest of the year—-we shall see.

SMITTYSTHEMAN

August 7th, 2010
1:15 pm

I’m not even a Tech fan, but it’s so hypocritical to mention how the Tech fans acted “immaturely” for 365 days following their 45-42 victory two years ago. All you have to do is pull any AJC blog and ever since last year’s “hang on by a thread” 30-24 win by UGA, all you see is “30-24, 30-24, 30-24″ or “We run this state, we run this state”. If you consider Tech just a blip on your screen, then you guys ought to treat it as such instead of the “immature” rantings over and over again about last year’s win. UGA ran the ball down Tech’s defensive throats all game long and still had to rely on an uncharacteristic dropped pass by a now NFL first round draft pick. What a joke. Every time you want to talk big about beating somebody, you’re gonna hear this: “I see red panties falling from the sky! I see red panties falling from the sky!!” How’s that for immaturity. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Scott W.

August 7th, 2010
1:15 pm

Chazzo how about playing it close to the vest until we see a few key things first? BTW you had some excellent points yesterday.

Beast from the East

August 7th, 2010
1:16 pm

Classless move tearing up the hedges. So is stomping another team’s logo. Those are “bush-league” moves. Richt had a flashback to his days at the “U” with the endzone celebration and has paid dearly for it the last two years. Those things do not go unpunished and I would bet that UGA is looking to make sure it doens’t happen again “between the hedges”. You can’t try and show up your opponent with cheap antics, vandalism, etc. Either do it on the field or not at all.

Scott W.

August 7th, 2010
1:17 pm

If 30-24 is hanging by a thread what exactly is 45-42?

timthebrave

August 7th, 2010
1:18 pm

the fla loss in 02 and the auburn loss when it was 4th and about 30. i was too young to remember the early 80’s losses….all of them hurt a little

SMITTYSTHEMAN

August 7th, 2010
1:18 pm

Dawgtard Ruin This State —– Great point. The dawg fans want to laugh about their worst defensive team in recent history still beating the Jackets last year, but they don’t wanna talk about the year before when Tech’s “high school jv, yadayadayada” offense ran it down their throats against the supposed greatest UGA team in 20 years. Bwahahahaha

Beast from the East

August 7th, 2010
1:21 pm

SMITTYSTHEMAN,
To be fair, most of those 30-24 comments are in direct response to the idiot “Saint Simons” who made it his life’s mission to deride the Dawg faithful for 365 days after they lost at home to Tech. It apparently stuck with many a Dawg fan. Again, classless moves do not go unpunished.

timthebrave

August 7th, 2010
1:21 pm

smittystheman, way to prove your point on how to be mature. can’t even admit you are a tech fan

SMITTYSTHEMAN

August 7th, 2010
1:23 pm

In the 45-42 game, there was no chance for UGA to pull out a last second victory. The score was 45-35 when UGA scored a TD inside two minutes to play. Tech got the ball and stuffed it down their defensive throats until time ran out. That’s not near “hanging on by a thread” as last year’s game with Tech driving for the winning score in the final minute.

timthebrave

August 7th, 2010
1:23 pm

Thinking about the dawgs worse losses is making me mad…..Bad subject

timthebrave

August 7th, 2010
1:24 pm

smittystheman, both games were close

SMITTYSTHEMAN

August 7th, 2010
1:28 pm

FYI, I’m from the midwest where most teams admittedly aren’t as strong as the teams from the South. But I can’t help but laugh, since moving here several years ago, in reading how delusional dawg fans are. They had one great team 30 years ago and still wouldn’t have won the NC if not for the great Herschel Walker. Everyone knows that. And no, I’m not a Tech fan, although I admire Paul Johnson’s grit.

Ray Goof days are here again !!

August 7th, 2010
1:29 pm

Losing to Sparky( Spooky) Woods and SC in 93 on the last play of the game. Brandon Bennett dives over the Dawgs defense. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=is6Sthr2a5A

PhilDawg

August 7th, 2010
1:31 pm

Penn State in Sugar Bowl
Pittsburg in Sugar Bowl with Dan Marino
Florida – phantom time out, Eric Zeier
Auburn at home in ‘82 after Hershel
LSU last year
Ga Tech in Atlanta in the fog when Steve Crumley missed 3 field goals and as I lamented his ineptitued I realized I was sitting behind his parents
Tennessee last year – for the sheer butt stomping, Kiffin of it
Nebraska in the Sun Bowl
Virginia in the Peach Bowl
Virginia at homecoming in ‘79

Heck forget those, think about those great WINS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Belue back to pass ……………. run Lindsay, run Lindsay

Turn on the hoses you Auburn sissies, we just beat you with a back up Quarterback in your home and the light on the noise meter barely moved when it was near the end

Sugar falling from the Sky