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

hirsutedawg

August 7th, 2010
1:31 pm

2001 against South Carolina is the game that infuriated me more than any other. CMR had to learn about clock management the hard way.

Pago Pago Dawg

August 7th, 2010
1:33 pm

When Florida beat the crap out of the DAWGS in Sanford Stadium.

SMITTYSTHEMAN

August 7th, 2010
1:34 pm

Beast from the East — Another great point. I consider St. Simons an immature idiot as well. Might as well say they’re on both sides, huh?!

Beast from the East

August 7th, 2010
1:34 pm

PhilDawg,
That must have been a very uncomfortable seat after realizing you were sitting behind the kid’s parents. Yeah, I guess that one does stick with you for years. Ouch!

Dawg House

August 7th, 2010
1:36 pm

We obviouly don’t see eye to eye on some issues here. I have my opionion, and you have yours. I don’t care to change your opinion, so please don’t bother trying to change mine.

However….. I think one point I made has been proven…… Tech is obsessed with all things UGA, especially this blog. I find it funny that Tech “fans” want to come and read a blog called the “Junkyard Blawg”…….

Tech’s rally cry: “To Hell With Georgia”
UGA’s rally cry: “Go Dawgs”

which would appeal to you as a recruit???

SOGADOG

August 7th, 2010
1:37 pm

#1 Penn State 82
#2 Fla. 02
#3 Kentucky 09 (Last year’s Ky game was the most painful loss to watch even though the stakes were not high.)

Beast from the East

August 7th, 2010
1:41 pm

SMIYYSTHEMAN,
We all got ‘em. No one’s fan base is immune to “dumb”. Opinions seem to vary as what team’s fan base is most “infected”. LOL!

SMITTYSTHEMAN

August 7th, 2010
1:42 pm

You need to check the Tech blogs. The obsession obviously comes from both sides. Check any Tech blog and you’ll see all kinds of dawg fans ranting about their so-called superiority. That’s a pretty lame statement.

SMITTYSTHEMAN

August 7th, 2010
1:42 pm

Beast from the East — Totally agree!!!

SMITTYSTHEMAN

August 7th, 2010
1:45 pm

It’s been fun, Dawg fans. Gotta go. Got things to do!

private plane watching

August 7th, 2010
1:45 pm

So many loses… so little time to discuss them all

Dorsey Hill

August 7th, 2010
1:47 pm

Bama-1985- td pass in final minute
Bama-1994- blew 17-6 halftime lead; lost by last minute fg
UT- 1995- led entire game; lost by fg with less than a minute
Auburn- 2005- gave up 4th and 20 conversion
USC-2000- espn game day embarrassment
UT and UF- 1992; lost by combined 5 points in only two losses of season

SSIgator

August 7th, 2010
1:48 pm

Overheard during the start of practice at UF this week between two UF players at which there was also the Gator cheerleading squad practicing, “Man, I haven’t seen this many girls on the field since the last time we played UGA in the Gator Bowl”.

Ouch

@ScottW

August 7th, 2010
1:52 pm

a hegde is a plant in a stadium, not the stadium. ScottW another clueless thUGA grad!

Real Athens

August 7th, 2010
1:52 pm

The loss to Tennessee (in Knoxville) when Robert Edwards was unstoppable for the first half, rushing for nearly 300 yards only to break his foot and not play in the second half.

Arrrrggggggggggggh.

Chazzo

August 7th, 2010
2:00 pm

Dorsey,
That block punt in the 85 Bama game, then (was it Shula at QB?) the march down the field to take it away. That sucked. That UF game in 84 was a stinger. UT last season and the Bama blackout debacle. I put the UT loss on Willie, but the Bama blackout that just wasn’t smart on Richt’s part to give a team more reason to beat you.

I’ll take that Lindsey Scott run, The FB pass against UT, Herschell’s run over UT backfield, that last second reception against Auburn, and Butler’s kick against Clemson as fair trade for all of the disappointments combined. I will throw in Donnan’s defeat of the Gators. That was his shining moment, brilliant job of coaching that day.

10SEConds

August 7th, 2010
2:02 pm

For one of the winningest programs in college football history, it’s actually surprising how may stomach churners there are. I agree with those I’ve seen already (esp. GT 2 yrs ago, ‘05 UF, ‘97 AU and the 82 and 83 Sugars) but I’ll add a few I haven’t seen mentioned here.

1971 loss to Auburn: the mediocre 1970 Dawgs screwed up a great AU/Pat Sullivan season (1 other loss, to LSU) by with a 31-17 butt-kicking at Auburn. Next year, both met in Athens undefeated. Great Dawg team, 4 shutouts (gave up only 4 TDs in preceding 8 games combined), had just killed FL. On morning of 11-13-71, I remember one Auburn loudmouth hanging out the window of a car crawling down Atlanta Hwy, screaming “Awbuhn gone keyul Joe-ja!” And they did, 35-20, only blemish on the year. Hated that!

1977 was a year full of futility, but nothing worse than the UK loss at home, in front of Prince Charles and James Brown, Art Still all over Jeff Pyburn, the vaunted Junkyard Dawg defense helpless, a UT “friend” of mine rubbing it in. Embarrassing for all Dawgs everywhere. Only good thing about it (besides the halftime show) was the set up for sweet revenge in ‘78, with Pyburn, Willie McClendon and Rex Robinson leading the 4th quarter miracle.

UT in Athens, 1992, Ray Goff’s best year, team loaded with talent. Dawgs up 31-27 well into 4th Q. Vols driving late in 4th. It’s something like 4th and 17. I see Dawg defenders high-fiving, turn to my wife and say “You see those idiots celebrating? Shuler will straighten up and throw deep into a soft zone. Tennessee’s about to win.” Sure enough, our slack “prevent” D gave it up. I was in K’ville last year and in 2007, really bad stuff, but ‘92 was sickening. Zeier, etc, deserved better.

This one wasn’t quite a loss, not quite agony, but one of those bitter things that haunted me for a couple of years. ‘78 in Auburn, UGA scores TD late in 4th (I think about 5 minutes to go), Dooley goes for 1 to tie instead of 2 to win and that wound up ending the scoring. Cost us an SEC title. ‘78 was one of Dooley’s greatest coaching seasons, textbook for underdog teams, but this decision was just wrong. He must’ve remembered it v. GT 2 wks later, winning on the famous Buck to Amp 2 point conversion. But I just hated that the Wonder Dawgs were deprived of an SEC title!

Chazzo

August 7th, 2010
2:02 pm

SSIgator,
I hope they post that one in the Dawgs locker room.

Dorsey Hill

August 7th, 2010
2:03 pm

Real Athens,

Edwards had 154 on 12 carries and 2 tds. Foot got broke before the half.

bill

August 7th, 2010
2:04 pm

The ‘93 loss to the mind-reading referee…the wettest I have ever been in my life!

Chazzo

August 7th, 2010
2:11 pm

bill,
The mind-reading ref in 93? this escapes my memory.

Big L

August 7th, 2010
2:16 pm

South Carolina in 2007. Did not even get n the end zone. If we win that game, we smoke LSU in the SEC championship and beat the hayle out of Ohio State. No excuse for not even one touchdown against South Carolina.

jackson

August 7th, 2010
2:20 pm

Bill,

It still has to be the Penn State game. I was a four year old watching the game with my family and my parents friends. I could not understand how Herschel could not run the ball…. he was superman after all. He was a kids hero who couldn’t save the day… That was the day I began wondering about Santa, the Easter Bunny and tooth fairy. I think I cried for a half hour after the game…. as a four year old. The other games were heart breaking but that game was down right painful.

Mr. Georgia Football Returns

August 7th, 2010
2:22 pm

Thanks a pant load Bill! You’ve put us into a world of hurt.

Pour some salt into the Dawg Nations wounds!

Is this some sort of “pain therapy”?

Damon Evans

August 7th, 2010
2:27 pm

Late in the night on June 30th ,2010 driving my BMW on an Atlanta highway with a pair of red panties in my lap. I felt pretty good at the time.

Budweiser Bob

August 7th, 2010
2:30 pm

Bill its a house of pain every year we lose to FL period

Alabama Jack

August 7th, 2010
2:31 pm

All UGA losses are good, just some are better than others.

Budweiser Bob

August 7th, 2010
2:32 pm

jackson

I’ll tell you why Herschel couldnt run the ball, because Dooly hardly ever passed the ball, always too one dimensional

Dorsey Hill

August 7th, 2010
2:33 pm

Chazzo,

On the replay of the td pass you see the ball between the center and zeier when Lott turns to call time out. So the only way to have called time was to have “read lott’s mind” before the balled snapped knowing that’s what he wanted. At least that’s what bill was suggessting. The reality is that the ref blew the whistle after the ball was snapped.

dacula dawg

August 7th, 2010
2:39 pm

Not a loss, but almost as bad: the 1968 game vs.Tennessee in Knoxville. National TV. Some great plays by Jake Scott. The Vols tied it right at the end on a two-point conversion. Those hillbillies were intolerable afterwards….

NO LINDSEY SCOTT,NO 1980 TITLE MUTTS

August 7th, 2010
2:40 pm

IF MIKE DUMB@$$ BOBO KEPT RUNNING KNOWSHON AGAINST SOUTH CAROLINA INSTEAD OF THOMAS BROWN IN 2007 WE WOULD HAVE WON THE GAME,NEXT COACH 2 GET FIRED WILL BE MIKE STUPID BOBO!

class of 81

August 7th, 2010
2:44 pm

I was at the Florida game in 93 and that one stuck with me for a while + any loss to the bumble bees, especially losses to that Dewberry dude at QB (gotta be over 35 to remember that one). I can handle losing to Vandy and KY once every 10 years, but not the Richmond Spiders.
People seem to forget Michigans loss to Happy State and how the mighty Crimson Tide has some really embarrasing losses in the last decade. I seem to recall an Ole Miss win over Tim Tebooooo that had me laughing for days, so all schools have that loss that they would like to forget.

Score check

August 7th, 2010
2:48 pm

Slow news day? Seems like there should be plenty of current topics to talk about.

Most painful

August 7th, 2010
2:54 pm

The alltime most costliest were the Penn State loss for a national title and the Pitt loss where we were ranked #2 and could have earned a split of the title. 4th ranked Miami upset #1 Nebraska to win that year in both polls.

Most painful loss recently was the blackout debacle against Bama in 08. It was total humiliation because it was the prime time national game and we were embarrassed at the half 31-0 with the whole nation watching. The worse thing about that loss is that since that game Georgia has not been the same. Look at our record under Richt pre-blackout game vs Bammer and post blackout game and its horrible. Its like night and day and I can’t be the only person who has noticed this.

Don’t know what it is about Bama and 31-0 but the 31-0 home beating we took in the 96 I think it was to Bama was also bad. It was that game that cost Ray Goff his job. One other hearbreaker to the Bammers was when we blocked a punt in the last minute for a td to take the lead. Then Mike Shula led them the distance of the field to win it with a few seconds left on a pass over the middle. I’ll never forget that.

A couple of losses to UT stick out such as the Robert Edwards injury game, the blowout last year to the bozo of all people. the 35-7 blowout in 07 that cost us a shot at a national title. Losing 9 in a row to the viles throughout the 90s was extremely painful every year.

The AU game in 05. And the Florida games are too numerous to go into but the one that really sticks out is the 50 pt game in Athens and the dismantling in 08.

The UK loss last year was humiliating in that our fans and our team seemingly just gave up.

RUSS GATA

August 7th, 2010
2:55 pm

If I recall a AJC from a back then article Jerry Argovitz a USFL guy kept Herschel up all night negotiating.
Hershel had no sleep and a big big big one slipped away.

Most painful

August 7th, 2010
2:59 pm

Class of 81,

When did we lose to Richmond? I don’t remember that. Everyone has embarrassing losses and I do remember the Bammers having some embarrassing losses also. But Tim Tebow and Florida losing to Ole Miss? I remember Ole Miss whipping us a couple of times and that Ole Miss team that beat Florida was a dang good team. They went 9-4 or 10-3 and put a pounding on 11-1 Texas Tech in the Cotton Bowl. No shame at all in losing to Ole Miss and especially that ole miss team in 08.

MIGRAINE BOY

August 7th, 2010
3:02 pm

ANY LOSSES D@MMIT

Call IT

August 7th, 2010
3:04 pm

Excuses, excuses, all GA fans can say is “remember that time or remember when”?

LOL!

Keep your mouths shut and start to back-up your trash talking by winning for a change rather than reminiscing about the old days. The program is not that good, and it has done nothing since 1980!

Gators win the East again in 2010 and another beat-down in Jax, Promised!

Enough Said!

Mobile Dawg

August 7th, 2010
3:04 pm

2005 loss to AU. We had the lead and the ball midway through the 4th quarter. Richt elects to pass on 1st, 2nd, and 3rd down, all incomplete. Takes 26 seconds off the clock, the rest is history. That’s where the game was lost. A first down there and we probably never get to 4th and 20. We end our season at 11-1, SEC Champions, could we have played for the NC that year?

just a fan

August 7th, 2010
3:13 pm

The two Florida losses hurt more to me because I was at both and they were both very tough losses especially the 2002 game I was at every game that year and being so close to going undefeated and just playing so bad in jax.

Kennesaw Dawg

August 7th, 2010
3:20 pm

Can’t remember exactly what year it was……but early 1970’s…….I remember being sick watching Pat Sullivan and Terry Beasley personally put a whooping on us in Athens by the Auburn team. I admired them both for how good they were, but it turned my stomach that we lost.

dawggirl

August 7th, 2010
3:21 pm

The loss to WVa in the Sugar Bowl as well. It was eeriely similar to the blackout debacle against Bama.

“The worse thing about that loss is that since that game Georgia has not been the same. Look at our record under Richt pre-blackout game vs Bammer and post blackout game and its horrible. Its like night and day and I can’t be the only person who has noticed this.”

You’re not, Most painful. We never should have been ranked as high as we were that year.

1eyedJack

August 7th, 2010
3:26 pm

All the losses to that loud mouth to the south, Darth Visor.

What a depressing article Bill. But thanks.

Best game to me was the first one I was priveleged to see in person the ‘76 beating of Bear’s boys. I can still see that tight end rumbling down the field over and over.

Please enlighten us on class

August 7th, 2010
3:37 pm

Tearing up the hedges was classless? It’s tradition! Anytime Tech beats UGA in Athens, it’s tradition to tear up the hedges. Of course you guys were sore from last year so you had to go and tear up Grant Field. Apples and Oranges when you compare. Now you tell me what is classy.

Tears:

August 7th, 2010
3:50 pm

Tears are falling from the sky, tears are falling from the sky. Your Herschel days are over and it’s been 30 years since your team has won a NC in football. Pretty sad to say the least.

8 - 5

August 7th, 2010
3:52 pm

Nuff said. UGA suxs! How was the terd bowl last year boyz?

Evans:

August 7th, 2010
3:54 pm

UGA! Forget the drinking and driving! You are all losers anyway. At least I gotta a pair of red panties from this skank chick and I was the AD at Universety of Georgaia. If you drink and drive you lose. Heck, we lose anyway. In fact, we are all LOSERS!

bnwdog

August 7th, 2010
4:00 pm

While completely irelevant to the national landscape and not a nail biter, sitting in sanford stadium my freshman year, 1995 watching the spurrier led gators absolutely embarass us. Might have been crying in the upperdeck of the student secton when it was all over?

NOSTRAGATOR

August 7th, 2010
4:04 pm

2010 – after tebow graduated and the pups were supposed to start making the series somewhat competitive, johnny brantley throws 5 tds in the first half en route to a 70-3 blowout.

Boo Boo's boo's from Sanford.

August 7th, 2010
4:07 pm

The Kentucky Game last really churned my stomach after enduring the beatdowns from Florida and Tennessee last year. That loss sent the dawgs to stinking Shreveport .I always hate that the dawgs cant shake a pathetic football program in SC. UGA should bash their brains in more often than not.