Skipper’s Knights might consider Friday’s Liberty Bowl game against Georgia their “Super Bowl” and the biggest game in Central Florida history, but from a UGA perspective it’s the same sort of scenario as last season’s Independence Bowl. In other words, not likely to go down in UGA annals as one of the Dogs’ more celebrated postseason match-ups.
Last year, as Georgia prepared to cap off another mediocre season with a mediocre bowl trip that nobody could get excited about (but which actually saw UGA sell more tickets than this year’s game!), I reminisced about my favorite bowl wins by the Dogs besides the obvious choice of the national championship win over Notre Dame. I opted for the Jan. 2, 1984, upset of the undefeated, No. 2-ranked Texas Longhorns in the game that spawned the oft-used phrase, “it’s still 10 to 9 in Dallas.”
This year, I decided to let some other UGA fans share their favorite bowl memories.
“I liked the total destruction of Hawaii in the Sugar Bowl best,” my brother Tim said of the Jan. 1, 2008, demolishing of the Colt Brennan media myth. “I think the Hawaii game was probably one of the most complete games UGA has played under Mark Richt.”
But Tim is also quite fond of the the black-britches 33-6 win over Wisconsin in the Jan. 1, 1998, Outback Bowl featuring Mike Bobo, Hines Ward and Robert Edwards versus Ron Dayne, and Bobo setting a completion record by hitting 92.8 percent of his passes that day.
I have to agree with Tim that Georgia looked terrific that night against Hawaii — so good they entered the next season as the nation’s No. 1 team. Too bad it’s been mostly downhill since then. And that Outback Bowl was probably the high point of the Jim Donnan era.
My other brother, Jon, says his favorite is the Dec. 30, 2006, Chick-fil-A Bowl we all attended, “where we came back to beat the Hokies! Charles Johnson was tearing them up.” Indeed, Johnson forced a fumble, had a couple of sacks and broke up a pass that night.
My old friend Dan goes back a bit further with his favorite Georgia bowl game: the Dec. 26, 1964, Sun Bowl game against Donnie Anderson and Texas Tech, a 7-0 win for the Dogs in Vince Dooley’s first season. Dan’s second pick is the Cotton Bowl win over Texas. And he’s also quite fond of the Dec. 31, 1966, Cotton Bowl, “where Kent Lawrence (later police chief, law school classmate at UGA and last I checked state court judge) ran all over SMU,” with 149 yards for the day, including a 74-yard touchdown run on the second play of the game.
But Dan adds: “Any bowl UGA wins is a good bowl. Also any bowl that GTU loses goes on my favorites list. As I’ve told you before, if al-Qaida had a football team and they played Tech, I’d pull for AQ.”
So this year’s Independence Bowl made Dan very happy. For the sixth year in a row.
My high school buddy Johnny also opts for the 10-9 win over Texas in the Cotton. “I loved that game,” he said. “We did everything we could to both win and lose that game.”
At the other end of the spectrum, Johnny remembers the Jan. 1, 1969, 16-2 loss by a supremely talented Georgia team to Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl, which “taught me that there is a whole lot more to coaching then playing the game. Coach Dooley really upset the team when he picked the Sugar Bowl. Hence the lack of enthusiasm by the UGA players in that game. What an ugly loss!”
My childhood pal Carl says his pick is “by far the ’66 Cotton Bowl. No. 34 notwithstanding, that ’66 team was, in my opinion, Dooley’s best. They had some studs on that team; George Patton, Bill Stanfill, Lynn Hughes, Ronnie Jenkins, Kent Lawrence. I think the ’66 team was better overall than the ’80 team. If the ’66 bunch hadn’t stubbed their toe at Miami on a Friday night, they’d have gone undefeated.”
My friend Steve has two favorite bowl games, both of which he attended. The first is the Jan. 1, 1993, Citrus Bowl against against Kirk Herbstreit and Ohio State in Orlando. “Great win against a big-name school.” The other, Steve says, “would have to be the 1998 Outback Bowl in Tampa over Wisconsin. Mike Bobo was phenomenal. It was supposed to be very competitive, but we jumped on them early. Very fun win.”
And then there’s my old schoolmate Rusty, a lifelong Bulldogs fan, who goes against the grain by picking a Georgia loss as his favorite bowl.
“Although it was a total downer of a game, the [Jan. 1, 1977] Sugar Bowl when we played Pittsburgh is my favorite,” Rusty says, in part because the 1976 team is his favorite.
“We were underdogs in virtually every game and were behind by 14 points at the half in most (California, South Carolina, Florida come to mind), plus we shut out the Bear! We went to New Orleans arguably playing for the national championhip — we were certainly playing the #1 team. I think #2 USC and #3 Ohio State were in the Rose Bowl and we were #4.
“Anyway, we got the living stew beat out of us at a game that was so early (11 a.m. if I remember right) I didn’t even feel hungover until the half.”
As for the game ifself, Rusty recalls “we didn’t get beat so much by Tony Dor-SETT as by Matt Cavanaugh. One of few times we were totally outclassed in a bowl game. Despite all that, I have nothing but good memories. Went with good friends from law school (we were third-years). … Our first time in New Orleans and, as with most of my life experiences, the first is usually the best.”
Rusty remembers Pitt coach Johnny Majors and his entourage “coming into the piano bar at Pat O’Brien’s after the game. He didn’t realize that most of the people in the bar were Dogs fans but he figured it out when Mitch Delk got the pianists to play ‘Glory, Glory’ followed by ‘Rocky Top,’ then ‘When Johnny Comes Marching Home.’ (Everybody knew he was going to [leave Pitt for] Tennessee.) He and his group quickly got up and left. So, we may have lost the game but we totally won the party. Woof!”
Yes, even a losing bowl trip can produce great memories.
Feel free to share your own memories of bowl trips and your own favorite Dogs bowl games.
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