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, 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

Billy Jack could fight

August 7th, 2010
4:10 pm

How about the Clemson loss 13-3…that one stung..1981..

Willie Martinez

August 7th, 2010
4:15 pm

How about the 45 big ones allowed in Sanford Stadium in 2008 with a Stafford and a Moreno on the sidelines……

Delbert D.

August 7th, 2010
4:16 pm

What were the circumstances of the game at Auburn when the fire hoses were turned on the fans?

Scott W.

August 7th, 2010
4:18 pm

The Hedges are famously part of the stadium, if they weren’t the bugs wouldn’t want to ravage them. SMITTYSTHEMAN what you call hanging by a thread, I call great defense.

Jim Doanan as in Doans Pills

August 7th, 2010
4:19 pm

How about the 11 -7 loss to Southern Miss in 96 first game of the season at home. BTW Southern Miss does have 16 consecutive winning seasons…Watch out Gamechickens !!!!!


August 7th, 2010
4:39 pm

It is probably farther back than you want to go but the Houston game of 1967 broke my heart worse than any Bulldog game. Houston had a new offense. The Houston Veer they called it. They also were the only major college team in the nation to play on artificial turf. They got you in the Astro Dome with that artificial turf and that veer offense and beat you to death. They had two backs with blazing speed. Gipson and McVea I believe they were. The buildup to the game was intense. Nobody back then was able to adjust to artificial turf not having any place to practice on it. No TV of course in 1967. Munson called it in his second year on the air. Dooley and Russell had a good scheme for them and led in the Astro Dome 14-0 going into the fourth quarter. Houston scored two touchdowns and won the game 15-14. Georgia’s cornerback got knocked silly near the end of the game and the Houston coachs picked up on it before the Georgia coachs. Houston threw over him for the winning touchdown.

call IT is a ruhtard

August 7th, 2010
4:46 pm

Really? Our program has done nothing since 1980? Last time I checked UGA and UF have the same number of SEC titles this decade

worst recent losse

August 7th, 2010
4:53 pm

Worst of the recent losses was the blackout game in 08 vs Bama before a national tv audience in prime time. Look at Richt’s record pre-blackout game and post blackout game and its like 2 different worlds. Confidence was shattered from that game and dawgs have yet to get it back after that game. Ensuing blowout losses to UT, Florida, loss to UK the next year, and an 8-5 season all follow on the heels of that one game.

Call It

August 7th, 2010
4:55 pm

Florida has 3 sec titles 2000, 2006, and 2008 in the previous 10 years and 2 bcs titles. Georgia has 2 sec titles and zero bcs titles. You were even wrong on the sec titles buddy.

Smartest Bulldog

August 7th, 2010
4:55 pm

Many great games are part of the fun at The Smartest Bulldog. It’s fast, fun and free! Play today:


August 7th, 2010
4:58 pm

What you call great defense the rest of the known world calls a dropped pass! Your great defense didn’t cover an NFL first round draft pick WR and HE dropped it.

Dawgtards ruin this state

August 7th, 2010
5:00 pm

Nobody is mentioning the Kentucky game last year? Are thUGA fans saying they expect to lose to Kentucky?


August 7th, 2010
5:04 pm

All 3 losses in 08 were equally heart-wrenching


August 7th, 2010
5:09 pm

gergia fan since 1957.the 1982 sugar bowl was the worst. watch the replay. the game was over. 4th down marino thew the ball straight up in to the air. it hung there forever. it came down in the end zone and not one georgia player reacted to the ball. touchdown. game over. national championship gone.


August 7th, 2010
5:21 pm

I was in Oxford Miss. the week after we beat the Bear in Athens 21-0 in 1976. Uga jumped out front early, on a long run by Goff, but pretty much had it handed to them the rest of the way. 28-13 final I think. A real downer after the euphoria of the win vs. Bama


August 7th, 2010
5:25 pm

I seem to remember Dawg nation in tears being broadcast to the entire nation during the WVU loss in the Sugarbowl. There was more footage of sad dawg fans than there was footage of football being played. I would keep on ripping on the UGA fans, but they also showed a large, pot bellied WV fan with the WVU logo painted on his belly.

Don’t forget the game was in the GA dome that year. My UGA friends were making fun of me before the game started, but they shut up when the score was 28-0.

Scott W.

August 7th, 2010
5:36 pm

Really, lame.

Scott W.

August 7th, 2010
5:37 pm

Any loss to UF applies.


August 7th, 2010
6:24 pm



August 7th, 2010
6:28 pm



August 7th, 2010
6:29 pm


[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]


August 7th, 2010
6:52 pm

Now that we’re in the off-season, wouldn’t this be the perfect time to take an in-depth look at UGA and have a serious discussion about the problems at UGA and why the arrest rate of players is the highest in the country? it’s common knowledge that UGA is a party school, but have any football players every actually graduated with a real degree? Jan Kemp exposed the school and the coaches almost three decades ago, but there is no sign that anything has improved; if anything, the arrest rate shows that things are getting more outrageous every year while the clueless Mark Richt has absolutely no control over his players. And then there is the infamous “red panties” incident that will haunt UGA for decades.

UGA has a lot bigger problem than hiring a new AD.

UGA has become a major embarrassment to all Georgians, and we want some answers starting now.


August 7th, 2010
7:12 pm

Don’t forget the BIG loss when we didn’t even play. DAWGS were #3 in the BCS and # 1 & # 2 teams lose and the DAWGS drop to 5 without playing a game.

Bill Parcells says you are what your record says you are

August 7th, 2010
7:16 pm

I can recall just about every tough loss mentioned on here. Of course, there are some great wins to offset those heartbreakers.

Per Parcells quote: the record says UGA is one of the top football programs in the country, and it goes back decades. There are a handful of programs above us, and boatloads beneath us, wishing they were us.

Dog Power: 132 SEC titles, NCs in 8 sports, not a one trick pony

Depressing Dog Days

August 7th, 2010
7:17 pm

Don’t know if I missed this amongst the others, but those losses to LSU in ‘03 hurt bad. We hadn’t lost much in a couple of years, and to lose that game late in Baton Rouge was really depressing. Then to turn around in the title game and get trounced like we did made it even tougher.

That’s why the Dawg fans were so riled up in ‘04 when LSU came visiting, and that’s why that win ranks as one of my favorites!

Depressing Dog Days

August 7th, 2010
7:20 pm

Oh yeah, and remember crying my eyes out in ‘85 when Bama beat us in Athens. Heartbreaking way to watch my Dawgs get beat as a youngster.

Mental health counselor

August 7th, 2010
7:22 pm

I won’t embarrass anyone by calling them out, you know who you are, but going through life full of bitterness and jealousy of all things UGA is no way to live. Look on the positive side, by relishing the things your favorite school has done, rather than being consumed by envy of UGA. Your school may or may not measure up to Georgia, but look at a glass half full, not a glass half empty.


August 7th, 2010
7:28 pm

They all hurt but some little school from somewhere in N. Carolina with the mascot named DEMON DEACONS came into Athens several years ago and gave the dawgs a black eye and a bloody nose. The dawg nation was stunned!

ugag is irrelevant

August 7th, 2010
7:38 pm

envy? aw, c’mon … it’s just a great place to laugh at


August 7th, 2010
7:45 pm

1983 Auburn game- We lost 13-7. i remember Bo Jackson running a long one to win. Lost Sec championship
2005 Auburn game- We had the game won and they throw an 80 yard pass on 4th and 20 with under a minute left.
2006 Tennessee game. We’re up 20-7 first half. Tennessee catches on fire in second half wins 51-33
2009 LSU game- unbelievable penalty against AJ
1988 LSU game-great game went back and forth the whole day.i believe they won 27-24
1984 Florida game 27-0 OUCH.this was before Florida was Florida
Of course 1983 Sugar Bowl hurt the worst Penn State 27-23
1984 Auburn beat us either 10-7 or 13-7 at their place to win Sec championship
2000 GT wins on Jasper Sanks fumble.
I can’t remember the year. i think it was 93 or 94 when Heath Shuler scores in last minute to beat UGA


August 7th, 2010
7:47 pm

i keep seeing comments about how Knowshon should have played as a freshman. Do you idiots remember how good a player Thomas Brown and Kregg Lumpkin were. TB was a freak and has some great games for UGA. I don’t blame CMR for redshirting KM when we had the backs that we did.


August 7th, 2010
8:02 pm

1981… opened with a 44-0 white wash of the Vols, went up to Clemson, committed a gazillion turn-overs… only loss until the Sugar Bowl v. Pitt! Clemson won the national title that year… oh if we had just won that game, our best shot at back-to-back titles lost in a shower of fumbles and ints.


August 7th, 2010
9:11 pm

I think you got ‘em all. I will say that over the last 10-15 yrs it seems that everytime UGA has a game won against FLA that there seems to be a penalty,mind-reading time-out, etc. Even last yr Tebow got his towel spinning in the air to get the fans into the game & just about all of the FLA players were on the field, and the refs simply asked them to get back on the sidelines –which took probably 60+ seconds. If that would have been UGA they would have thrown the flag 3-4 seconds into the thing & called unsportsman like conduct –No question.

Act like you've been there

August 7th, 2010
10:11 pm

2007 Vandy game was a win though the dawgs hung on as they squeaked by in recovering a lucky fumble. Dawgs jumped up and down on the Vandy logo at midfield then somehow ended being ranked #2 at the end of the season.


August 7th, 2010
11:04 pm

Enter your comments here


August 7th, 2010
11:10 pm

UGA v. Pitt, the pass over poor Kelly’s outstretched hands. Kid had guts but was overmatched — at least he was in the game, which is more than I could ever say for myself…


August 8th, 2010
1:46 am

The SC game where Quincy Carter threw the 5 picks.

The stakes weren’t particularly high but the late ’80s home game against LSU had several lead changes and it was painful to lose by one.

The ‘05 Auburn game was painful for the same reasons AND the stakes were relatively hign.

The late ’80s game at Clemson was painful. To have it wrapped up and then lose it by one because of a safety (Lars Tate stuffed on an attempted sweep from the endzone) still hurts.


August 8th, 2010
1:47 am

That is not what happened at all Bill King. True we were 0-13 on 3rd down conversions, but the throw to Terrence Edwards wide-open across the middle for a touchdown was OVER HIS HEAD.

It was a season in which only Auburn # 15 was the lone other SEC team ranked at all that year in the Final USA Today Coaches’ Poll. Our offense has been consistently poor.

Big D Dawg

August 8th, 2010
1:49 am

where’s the days to football kickoff countdown on the AJC sports site?

Classic City

August 8th, 2010
6:40 am


Nesbitt for Heisman

Yellow Fuzz

August 8th, 2010
8:31 am

Football Fan

August 8th, 2010
8:37 am

The Terrence Edwards drop was horrible. I think that play alone dropped him from a potential NFL contributor to a career journeyman.

Old Dawg

August 8th, 2010
8:44 am

The loss to Penn State still hurts. Two national titles in three years would have been sweat. Edwards’ drop is another one.

And the loss to WVU in the Sugar Bowl is something I’ll never forget. Even through UGA came back to make the game close, it was obvious the defense wasn’t prepared for the speed of WVU’s offense and the rest of the team looked like they though it would be a cake walk.

Old Dawg

August 8th, 2010
8:46 am

Sorry, I meant to write sweet. I’m not awake yet.

mountain fan

August 8th, 2010
9:04 am

old dog, it seemed that WV “let up”…..

'94 UGA Alumni

August 8th, 2010
10:03 am

Hey Smitty and St. Simons,

(((((((((((((((((((8 out of 9))))))))))))))))

soon to be 9 out of 10



August 8th, 2010
10:27 am

Auburn 2005–The loudest I’ve ever heard Sanford; then they converted, and there was silence…
Tennessee 2006–It being my 21st birthday made it especially painful.


August 8th, 2010
10:31 am

UGA is a solid 7-5 team….can’t win w/ a midget at QB.


August 8th, 2010
10:56 am

The most gut wrentching moment was watching Kirk Herbstreit, Mark May, and the ESPN crew vault LSU into the title game over Georgia. Haven’t watched Gameday since.

That and Auburn ‘05.