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

JCubby

August 8th, 2010
11:06 am

As bad as all this makes me feel. To completely erase it all I only have to repeat two words three times. Lindsay Scott, Lindsay Scott, Lindsay Scott.

Dirty Dawg

August 8th, 2010
11:33 am

Was at that Sugar Bowl game with Penn State…having passed up the chance to go in ‘80 when we did win it all. The thing I remember most about the game, other than the touchdown pass Blackledge through that disappeared from view in the endzone below us, but the resultant jubilation of the Penn State crowd gave me the answer…no the thing I remember most is Bobo over-throwing a wide open Clarence Kay in the end zone and our having to settle for a fieldgoal – the ultimate difference in the score.

Kyle

August 8th, 2010
11:37 am

Dirty Dawg, Bobo was just a pup when Kay was catching passes.

Dirty Dawg

August 8th, 2010
12:22 pm

Kyle, you’re right, the Bobo on the roster was Tim, and not a QB. The one that ‘over’ threw the pass was John Lastinger – maybe I was just trying to forget the play, but it happened nonetheless and we lost.

dawgfan75

August 8th, 2010
2:36 pm

1992 tenn game. Sat in alum section with my father-in-law. UGA loaded with talent. Tenn being coached by stand-in coach. Near end of 4th quarter with defence celebrating prematurely. Alum fans screaming all around us ‘It’s not over!’ ‘Pay attention’. Ray’s noncoaching rears its ugly head and Tenn wins. We were expected to be in the top 5 if not in NC by the end of year. Saw several 50-70 year old men crying in the stands afterward. I had 3 tenn fans tell me that they didn’t win, but we sure as hell lost. One of the best teams in UGA history with the worst head coach. It took years to get rid of Goff. So much for the decisions of the ‘GREAT’ Vince Dooley.
1994-Vanderbilt Homecoming. The only time that a UGA team obviously threw a game. A lot of controversy the week before about homecoming queen selection committee. There was an editorial in the Red and Black newspaper the next week thanking those players who participated in the conspiracy to lose the game. The only time I’ve been ashamed to be a dawg fan. I blame the end result of both of these games on the head coach and the man who put him there.

Plain and simple

August 8th, 2010
3:51 pm

House of pain is Jacksonville Fla. gator bowl WLOCP. Its time to hire a coach to get it done !

bull dykes

August 8th, 2010
6:31 pm

bulldykes rock!

bull dykes

August 8th, 2010
6:32 pm

red panties rock!

bull dykes

August 8th, 2010
6:32 pm

damon evans and will martinez are awesome!

GaDawg

August 8th, 2010
6:41 pm

I’ve got to agree with Low about the Penn St game. Over the years, I have never been able to forget the freshman receiver who was all alone in the end zone and let, what would have been, the winning TD pass slip right between his hands. I’ ll always remember Herman Archie for that one play that he failed to make more than all the good things he did. That’s not to say I haven’t forgiven him; I’ve just never been able to forget it. House of Pain, yeah!

dawglasville

August 8th, 2010
7:42 pm

The Auburn loss in 83 was horrible. It was the first loss at home in ages. The 85 loss to Bama really hurt. That was the happiest and the saddest I’ve ever been in a 10 minute period (about 1:30) in actual game time.

dawglasville

August 8th, 2010
7:45 pm

The UF loss when Quincy took that late hit sucked too. Donnan was genius. We ran the option perfectly until Quincy got tagged and we he had to stop running the ball. That was a tough loss and playing them without DJ sucked.

T-Dawg

August 8th, 2010
10:02 pm

Did someone mention Lastinger? Oh, man — Cox was Namath compared to that guy (sorry, John). The Auburn loss in ‘83… and the inept qb. Epic.

Hunker Down

August 8th, 2010
11:17 pm

I remember the Jasper so called fumble very well ad it remided me alot of the LSU game last year i which the refs made a bad bad call that cost the Dawgs.

Hunker Down

August 8th, 2010
11:18 pm

remember the drops by Terrace Edwards ayoe?

Hunker Down

August 8th, 2010
11:19 pm

thats suppose to read “anyone”

Hairy Dawg

August 9th, 2010
12:07 am

I’ll take 2002 to Florida, but that’s only in retrospect. It didn’t kill me as much because the team won the SEC title for the first time in my memory. Looking back, that was pretty bad.

Bamafan

August 9th, 2010
9:09 am

Dawg fans it could be worse Bama lost to LA-MONROE!!!

robodawg

August 9th, 2010
10:00 am

The loss to Tennessee in ‘92 was disheartening, but the loss to Spurrier’s Gators later that year, with the division title on the line as I recall, was a huge disappointment.

We had a loss at Auburn in the mid to late 80s with the SEC on the line as well that was painful.

Suffering our worst home loss to the Gators (when the Jacksonville stadium was being renovated) was the low point of Georgia football in my lifetime.

The 2004 loss to UT a week after we shocked Saban’s defending national champ LSU Tigers was humiliating. It derailed what we thought might be a very special season with a fantastic group of seniors. But in hindsight, Auburn was better than us that year anyways, and even they got jobbed by the BCS.

And the 2000 loss to Florida was a heartbreaker. The ugly loss to Tech a few weeks later undid Donnan’s tenure, but expectations were high for breaking our SEC drought against Florida, until Quincy Carter threw that late interception.

robodawg

August 9th, 2010
10:20 am

A few more: I think it was 85, I was a kid and it was my first “big” game (as opposed to homecoming and other lightweight opponents) and we were playing Auburn. We needed to score late, our QB Jackson scrambled dangerously (as he was prone to do) and fumbled. Game over. Playing second fiddle to Auburn and LSU continued for several seasons.

I also remember the UT game in 95 (?) when Robert Edwards, newly switched to RB, was unstoppable, Bobo looked sharp, and you thought the mediocrity might finally be ending. Until Edwards broke his foot.

PMC

August 9th, 2010
10:27 am

That loss to Tennessee a couple of years ago that took them out of the SEC championship game was one of the worst losses ever because they had a real shot at a National Title and the blew it.

Neil sain

August 9th, 2010
10:47 am

Had to be the Florida game. We thought we had it won, then got called back. I thought I was going to kill my television set. I was screaming all kinds of things. I could not stand Steve Spurrier and that really hurt.The Bama game was so bad I could not watch it after the 1st quarter, even though we came back, too little too late. I also thought the LSU game last year could have turned their season around as well. The Tech fumble was probably next worse. Good call on all those loses.

Harry the Hat

August 9th, 2010
11:02 am

Kentucky was a great game last year. It was a hoot seeing the dawgtards pouring out of the stadium in a sea of red and black, while the game was still winnable.

What a hoot that was. Almost as much fun as seeing Florida slaughter the dawgs.

As a public service, here’s my prediction of this year’s game in Jax:

Gators 42, Dawgtards 13. SEC championship hopes dashed again!

It’s going to be so much fun watching all those top 5 recruiting classes self destruct again, as red panties fall from the sky!!!

kevin

August 9th, 2010
11:22 am

2002 vs UF was horrible. There was the dropped pass and there was the “lateral” call that we at least suspect, if not downright BS that took a TD away from UGA. Rough game.

Joey

August 9th, 2010
11:40 am

It kills me to see the Techies sneer about UGA losing to UF or SC. What doesn’t register with them is that while Tech has one “rival” in football, UGA has several, and rivals are always focusing on defeating you.

UGA has intense border-rivalries with SC, UT, UF, AU, and until SEC expansion, Clemson. Then we’ve got the in-state rival, Tech.

It’s tough to beat all of those teams in one season, even in good years, much less in down ones.

CLARK CO. PD

August 9th, 2010
11:44 am

As bad as all this makes me feel. To completely erase it all I only have to repeat two words three times. Lindsay Scott, Lindsay Scott, Lindsay Scott.

All I have to say to make me feel bad again is it’s been 30 YEARS!!!!

Gtax

August 9th, 2010
11:50 am

Coach’s know best!

(((( 17 – 21 ))))

Glory glory to the Jackets, their truth is marching on!!!

CLARK CO. PD

August 9th, 2010
11:53 am

Joey, I have some co-workers who are UF fans and they look at us like we look at GT. Inferior!!!! And we are!!

Harry the Hat' Boyfriend

August 9th, 2010
11:59 am

Harry, don’t forget to catch some of those red panties for me . . .

Joey

August 9th, 2010
12:02 pm

Didn’t say anyone was inferior, just saying for whatever reason, UGA has more intense border-rivalries than most teams, not all, just most.

!!!!!!! Jeez.

I'm in therapy with Dr. Phil

August 9th, 2010
1:22 pm

I keep having re-occuring nightmares that I am a Dawg fan. I need help!!!

I'm in therapy with Dr. Phil

August 9th, 2010
1:28 pm

Joey, you forgot Kentucky and Vandy and then almost Az State last year.

I'm in therapy with Dr. Phil

August 9th, 2010
1:29 pm

kevin, is UGA the only team that has TD’s called back by the Refs?

droopydawg

August 9th, 2010
2:04 pm

That 2002 game in JAX (which was on my 21st birthday) is definitely #1 in my dog house of pain. The Tedwards moment was bad, but the worst moment of the game was DJ Shockley looking at the wideout to whom he threw from the time of the snap (and then getting nothing on th pass), giving an easy INT for a TD to #4 Kiewan Ratliff. I never became a DJ fan even in 2005 because of that play.

Ed

August 9th, 2010
2:34 pm

1. Penn State in ‘83 Sugar
2. Florida ‘02
3. Florida ‘93
4. Florida ‘92
5. Florida ‘05
6. Pitt ‘82 Sugar
7. Alabama (’85? Mike Shula game)
8. Auburn ‘05
9. Auburn ‘83
10. Clemson (not sure of year, but it was about 20 years ago and they kicked a late field goal to win – beginning of lost decade for UGA football)

dostadawg

August 9th, 2010
2:38 pm

In the Penn State game, Ashley Lee Walker had Herschel’s number.
Dooley finally turned Lastinger loose (too late) passing, and if there
had been one more possession by Georgia, the Dawgs would have
another NC. Same thing with Pittsburgh, turned BElue loose too
late. Dawgs should have had three consecutive NC’s but for Dooley’s
conservative play calling.

Ed

August 9th, 2010
2:41 pm

CLARK COUNTY PD: “Joey, I have some co-workers who are UF fans and they look at us like we look at GT. Inferior!!!! And we are!!”

Big difference, PD. Tech doesn’t hold the all-time series lead over Georgia the way Georgia still, after 20 bad years, holds it over Florida. An 8-game margin. Also, Georgia is a program that has won championships in 6 decades dating back to WWII, excluding only the 90s, while UF is still the program that got blanked from 1932 until their 1991 SEC championship and basically had nothing resembling tradition for the first 3/4 of their existence.

Not an apples to apples comparison. But if the next decade or two looks like the 90s and 00’s, then it’s a different story.

dostadawg

August 9th, 2010
3:24 pm

Enter your comments here

dostadawg

August 9th, 2010
3:27 pm

FLASH – ORLANDO SENTINEL
The Gator nation is hurt and calling for an apology
from Emmit Smith, who delivered a 30 minute acceptance
speech at the NFL Hall of Fame, giving credit to his family,
and friends, players, coaches at both his High School and the
Dallas Cowboys, but never mentioned his college career or the
mighty Gators. According to the Sentinel, Emmit’s senior
year was Spurrier’s first year, and the two didn’t hit it off
that well. Sad, Sad, Sad

ga gator

August 9th, 2010
3:42 pm

dostadawg, Emmit already apologized during the game with an interview with Al Michaels. You need to check your facts though, Emmit never played for Spurrier.

shankit

August 9th, 2010
4:19 pm

T-Dawg
Your assessment of Lastinger losing to Auburn in ‘82, Dogs went 10-1-1,
beating Texas out of a NC in ‘83 Cotton Bowl, Lastinger voted MVP in this bowl.
Prior year, Lastinger went 11-0, lost to Penn STate in Sugar Bowl, because
Dooley kept running Herschel at Ashley Lee Walker.
Overall record two years 21-1-1.
What did you say Cox’s record was?

SAm

August 9th, 2010
4:58 pm

The Pitt one hurt as UGA had the game won. Lost when Russell went blitz and Marino found their big TE covered by our small safety.

It only marginally helps that Marino became one of the all-time great NFL QBs. If it had been Matt Cavanaugh, it would have hurt much more.

The Penn State loss was tough since UGA had a chance to score very early in the game–first drive maybe?. John Lastinger overthrew a wide open Clarence Kay in the end zone.

SSIgator

August 9th, 2010
6:25 pm

dostadawg -

Smiths last year at UF was 1989. Spurrier arrived in 1990 or did I need to remind you puppies of that. Moron.

59bulldawg

August 9th, 2010
6:35 pm

The Pitt and Penn State games top my list. I still think about those games. As for games where we dished out a little pain how about the 10-9 Georgia victory over Texas in the Cotton Bowl and the “Run Lindsey Run” 28-26 victory over Florida in 1980. But my favorite is the Richard Appleby to Gene Washington 10-7 end around pass that led us to victory over a favored Florida team way back in the 70s.

FORTY ONE POINTS to your seventeen points

August 9th, 2010
9:59 pm

How about….

(((((((((((((((((((41-17))))))))))))))))))))))

FORTY ONE POINTS to your seventeen points

August 9th, 2010
10:00 pm

or…..

((((((((((((((((49-10)))))))))))))

Reality

August 9th, 2010
10:08 pm

Same ol’ mutts, “It’s the Ref’s fault!!” “We’re the only team that has had blown calls!” You morons!

Ol' Ball Coach

August 9th, 2010
10:16 pm

What about “half a hundred” I laid on ya in Sanibowl?

Kentucky 09

August 9th, 2010
10:18 pm

Enter your comments here

Allensburger

August 10th, 2010
5:26 am

Auburn tie in ‘78 and losses to Auburn in ‘79 and ‘83 else the Dawgs would have won 34 SEC games in a row.