Twice a decade not enough for Georgia-Clemson!

The news this week that Georgia and Clemson finally have set the dates for their 2013-2014 series and will open those seasons against each other has gotten a lot of us longtime fans nostalgic for what was once one of football’s greatest, most hotly contested rivalries.

The Bulldogs have met the Tigers 62 times on the gridiron, second only to in-state rival Georgia Tech among nonconference foes, and they played every year except two between 1962 and 1987, before conference schedule requirements got in the way.

While Georgia leads the series 41-17-4 and has won the past five meetings, the rivalry was dead even during its glory days in 1977-87 — a period that saw each school win a national championship — with the two teams going 5-5-1.

Younger fans probably may not appreciate just how big the Georgia-Clemson rivalry used to be, but I think a good argument can be made that in that decade the close proximity of the schools and the parity between them on the field made Clemson UGA’s biggest rival, topping even Florida and Georgia Tech.

Clemson’s only regular-season losses in 1978, 1982 and 1991 were to the Dogs, and Georgia’s only regular-season loss during that great three-year Herschel Walker run was in Death Valley to the eventual 1981 national champion Tigers.

Great rivalries make for great trash talking, and aside from Tech, Lewis Grizzard got off some of his best shots at “Clempson,” the school he referred to as “Auburn with a lake.” My favorite was after protesting farmers staged a tractorcade at the state Capitol in 1978. Lewis cracked that he hadn’t seen that many tractors since the last time Clemson played in Athens.

It’s a real shame that the two schools no longer play each other on a regular basis in football. I know the desire of some fans to see the Dogs and Tigers play every year isn’t realistic, given that both schools are locked into annual battles with major nonconference opponents, but twice a decade just isn’t enough. When the two schools play in 2013, the decade break in the series will be the longest ever since they first met in 1897.

Hopefully with Georgia now having an athletic director who grew up a Bulldog in Athens during the years when the rivalry was at its peak we’ll see some consideration given to upping the frequency of the meetings. Ideally, I’d like to see Georgia and Clemson play home-and-home series every two years, meaning two years on and two years off, but even playing the Tigers just four years out of every 10 would be an improvement.

Anyway, as a reminder of what a great rivalry Georgia-Clemson has been in the past, here are my favorite games from the series:

1968: Georgia wins 31-13 in Athens. I remember after I finished selling my game programs at Sanford Stadium I managed to snag a seat near the 50-yard line in the south stands for this great game in an SEC championship season. The typically tough Erk Russell defense notched two safeties that day, but it actually was an atypical game for the Dawgs in the Vince Dooley era in that Georgia had 300 yards passing, including a 37-yard touchdown strike from Mike Cavan to big Dennis Hughes.

1969: Georgia wins 30-0 at Clemson. Cavan threw two touchdown passes and ran for another score as the Dogs shut out the Tigers in Death Valley.

1976: Georgia wins 41-0 at Clemson. Before a national television audience on ABC, Georgia’s quarterback tandem of Ray Goff and Matt Robinson humiliated the Tigers. Goff had a 73-yard scoring run and Robinson threw three touchdown passes, including an 85-yarder to Gene Washington. Quite a day.

1980: Georgia wins 20-16 in Athens. A tightly fought game during the national championship season in which Scott Woerner ran back a punt 67 yards for a touchdown and returned an interception 98 yards to set up a Buck Belue score.

1982: Georgia wins 13-7 in Athens. This was a big, big game, Georgia’s first under the new Sanford Stadium lights as the two preceding national champions met on national TV on Labor Day night. Hey, Jim Nabors was there to sing the national anthem! Herschel had an injured thumb and no one was sure how much he’d play, if at all. When he entered the game as a decoy in the second quarter the focus was so much on him that Tron Jackson was able to score on a 41-yard reverse, though the score was wiped out by a penalty. But the Georgia defense rose to the occasion, intercepting Athens native Homer Jordan four times and blocking a punt that turned into a touchdown for the Dogs. And Kevin Butler kicked two field goals.

1984: Georgia wins 26-23 in Athens. Speaking of Butler, his legend was made on this day as the Dogs upset the No. 2-ranked Tigers when he kicked it 100,000 miles, as Larry Munson said (actually 60 yards) for the winning field goal with 11 seconds to go. The stadium, as Munson screamed, was “worse than bonkers.”

1985: Georgia wins 20-13 in Clemson. Breaking out their red britches for the first time in a few years, the Dogs won a big upset in Death Valley thanks mostly to the spark provided by second-string quarterback James Jackson.

1991: Georgia wins 27-12 in Athens. On Goff’s best day as head coach, the Dogs upset the No. 6-ranked Tigers on national television.

2002: Georgia wins 31-28 in Athens. The close calls that characterized Georgia’s first SEC title season in 20 years started on this day at Sanford Stadium as QB David Greene struggled. But backup D.J. Shockley threw for one touchdown and ran for another, Fred Gibson returned a kickoff 91 yards for a score and Billy Bennett made a late fourth-quarter field goal for the margin of victory. A Tiger field goal attempt that would have tied it up fell short, and the Dogs clinched it when they converted on fourth down with 40 seconds left. Whew.

2003: Georgia wins 30-0 at Clemson. The Dogs entered the game with a shaky offensive line, two starters out injured and eight other players out on suspension, but Greene connected early with Gibson on a beautiful 56-yard touchdown strike. Greenie also had a 3-yard touchdown run, Shockley scored on a 29-yard run, Bennett added three field goals and the defense, which held Clemson to 7 yards rushing in the first half, saved a shutout with a David Pollack interception. Perfect.

And that’s the last time Georgia and Clemson played.

Feel free to share your own memories of the rivalry. And do you agree that the Dogs and Tigers should meet more often?

Find me on Facebook.

Follow me on Twitter.

— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

106 comments Add your comment

gator2177

May 20th, 2011
10:59 am

UGA and Clemson – the two schools with the biggest misperceptions about their prominence in college football. they certainly deserve each other.

JYD

May 20th, 2011
10:59 am

Gator2177………………………..enjoy the CUM’s run while it lasted. UF is about to be the SEC whipping boy. Oh yeah, and UGA STILL has the series record over you guys after all of our lost game the past two decades. It says tons about who really owns who…

Auburn is All In..... JAIL

May 20th, 2011
11:05 am

There was not a single mention this past week of Auburn’s RB, Onterio McCalebb arrested in Dekalb County for driving without a license and expired tag…..

http://www.al.com/sports/index.ssf/2011/05/auburns_mccalebb_arrested_for.html

I guess it’s a “heinous crime” until it happens to a player at your school. The it’s “no big deal” is it??

What are the odds he plays the opening game??

LC Dawg

May 20th, 2011
11:11 am

Dear haters,

We are glad you are here. A dog does not bark at a parked car. The fact you are barking only means you are worried…. because we are moving.

105 days!!!

gator2177

May 20th, 2011
11:14 am

College Football started in 1990 right?

Old Dawg

May 20th, 2011
11:14 am

The thing I most remember about the 1976 game is that the Clemmons fans were throwing rocks at their own players during the second half!

DCJohn

May 20th, 2011
11:16 am

Florida’s slogan should be, “We didn’t do anything before 1990. Oh yeah, we did. Our quarterback/punter won the Heisman. And then he made us relevant in 1990″

Georgia and Clemson in 2002 was one of the best games I have ever seen.

Spot on Bill

May 20th, 2011
11:17 am

The 2003 game was my all time favorite game outside of Athens….even better than the Sugar Bowl coming off the ‘02 SEC championship season. We went up on Friday night for the Hank Williams Jr. (afterall, you can’t have football without Hank) concert at Little John, and were not given much love from the Clemson fans and students around town. I heard about this all consuming “Sea of Orange” that would overcome our Dawgs. What a joke! By halftime we had Death Valley to ourselves. I could have done without the high noon kickoff; as it is still one of the hottest games I have ever been to. I would love to see the two schools hook it up more often on the field; especially with outcomes like the one in 2003.

D A DoubleU G

May 20th, 2011
11:28 am

This is very exciting.

Too many fans (especially the UGA haters) are obsessed with having to win a National Championship every year in order to justify having supportive fans.

I wish everybody were able to see the nostalgia in this matchup, like Bill said, as well as every other rivalry we have in our schedules year to year.

I do not give a darn if both UGA and Clempson are coming off winless 2012 seasons, with true freshman QBs set to start in 2013….. I CANNOT WAIT FOR THIS MATCHUP!!!

Only 105 days til kickoff!!!

Ca dawg

May 20th, 2011
11:29 am

Good stuff, bill. I’m just old enough to remember how big this rivalry was. Can remember butlers 60 yard fg, and my folks going nuts over munson’s call. Fwiw, I’d like to see a few more “7 yards rushing in the first half” type performances this year. HBTD!

fan

May 20th, 2011
11:33 am

Can’t spell gators without the GAY

Cunk Rogers

May 20th, 2011
11:35 am

Would love to see this game on our schedule every year. This was the biggest “rivalry game” in the early – mid 1980’s. The game in 1982 was crazy fun. Herschel’s thumb was tougher than the “Paw”. What a great series!

74 Dawg

May 20th, 2011
11:36 am

“Auburn running back Onterio McCalebb spent almost 24 hours at the DeKalb County Detention Center in Decatur, Ga., over the weekend after being stopped for driving without a proper license.

He was also ticketed for driving without a tag and revalidation decal. All the violations are considered misdemeanors and can be settled by paying the fines, DeKalb County spokesmen said today.

McCalebb was held in a holding area while he made telephone calls to arrange payment of the fines.

A DeKalb County spokesman said there was a delay in processing McCalebb’s arrest because of a backlog of arrests in the county last Saturday night, and that contributed to an extended stay. McCalebb posted two bonds totaling $660 before being released Sunday.”
THE ONLY WAY THIS STORY EVER GET IN THE ajc:) If it were a UGa player it would be page one and also result in at least two blogs, plus each time another player got in trouble, the first one would be part of the count down.

Tebow Bless You

May 20th, 2011
11:38 am

Can’t spell UGA w/o U-G-AY
-ther ya go fan

74 Dawg

May 20th, 2011
11:38 am

258DAWG

May 20th, 2011
11:39 am

Maybe for old-school fans… Personally I think times have changed and I would like to see more of the impact games. Like the Boise matchup, or even the likes of USC, OSU, Nebraska, Texas, VT matchup.
Helps recruiting and if you win them you’re in the thick of the hunt for the crystal ball.
Go DAWGS!!!

dawginmemphis

May 20th, 2011
11:41 am

The 30-0 game in 2003 was awesome because it was a continuation of the momentum we had from a 2002 SEC championship season. Hottest game of all time. Several college girls had to be carried out of the upper deck on gurneys……it was dangerously hot. I honestly remember the unrelenting heat before I remember what an @$$ whooping we laid on them.

I think that set the tone for us winning the East again that year and its those tone setting games that get the players psyche right for the rest of the year. Those were the days when the dawgs came into every single game expecting a victory and demanded perfection of themselves. We have to get back to that mindset. They need to prepare this summer with a mindset that they don’t want to just survive the first 2 games, but to have every intention of putting a beat down on Boise and Carolina. A tall order, sure, but we have to get our swagger back.

dougmo2

May 20th, 2011
11:41 am

Little known fact: Hershel NEVER rushed for 100 yards against Clemson.

Lowcountry Bulldawg

May 20th, 2011
11:42 am

‘91 was the game that Zeier became the starting QB over Talley in the victory. Huge game all the way around for UGA.

DawginLex

May 20th, 2011
11:52 am

‘91 gameday was voted the greatest day in Georgia sports history because it was the same day the Braves won something that same day.

CTDawg

May 20th, 2011
11:52 am

UGA has too many rivals, we can let one go.

258DAWG

May 20th, 2011
11:54 am

Instead of Clemson I’d also like to see matchups against Penn St, Miami, Okla, ND(for the name), FSU, Wis, Ore, or Mich (in the BIGHOUSE)
with the Clemson series record and the state of the programs, what does it do towards getting back in the chase for the crystal ball? NOTHING!

Reginald

May 20th, 2011
11:57 am

The beauty of this matchup is that they will probably have fired Dabo after 2012 or 2013 so one of the 2 games will be the first game of a new coaching staff. I’m predicting Tommy Tubberville will be their new coach. Anyone want to give me some odds on this?

Nate

May 20th, 2011
12:03 pm

Don’t get me wrong. I used to love the UGA-Clemson rivalry. But I’m over it now. We have a hard enough time with the schedule we’ve got. And we have plenty of good rivalries…Auburn, Florida, Tech, Tennessee, S.C., etc…

Problem with playing Clemson is that they will take the game seriously, but the country won’t. We will gain nothing from beating them and be destroyed in the media when/if we lose to them.

We have nothing to gain. Either open the season with a nationally respected team(like Boise St.) or open with a patsy(Kent St.). Not a mediocre team that can beat you like Clemson.

Just my opinion.

cantondawg

May 20th, 2011
12:08 pm

74dawg,

Was Onterrio calling Bobby Lowder to pay the fines for him?

Concerned

May 20th, 2011
12:15 pm

Not only does Clemson bring nothing to the table, it is impossible to get in and out of there. Please schedule somebody relevant in college football…not another also-ran from a mediocre conference.

Sam

May 20th, 2011
12:17 pm

Pretty funny how things change where Boise State (a team I love to watch) is considered a bigger opening game than Clemson. Boise was a junior college not that long ago. I think part of this is how much more national college football has become. Clemson had one small run of national significance. UGA has had a couple of spurts but it is not USC, ND, Nebraska or Alabama in terms of its national football prestige (Coming from a realistic UGA grad).

A tough schedule is no way to win a national title (or play for one at least). UF has played extremely weak out of conference games and been in the hunt. When was the last time UF played a non-conference game out of the state of FL (aside from bowl games)?

solja

May 20th, 2011
12:22 pm

Once again the obsession THuga fans have with Auburn and Auburn’s success is showing on a blog that is supposed to be about THuga and Clemson. You guys are BEYOND pathetic. It would be sad if weren’t so funny to read and listent too. National Champs vs national chumps! BWAAAAAA

Ben

May 20th, 2011
12:24 pm

Yeah, this rivalry is pretty much dead for anyone under 30.

I remember hating them as a kid but a rivalry has to, you know, have to be PLAYED in order for it to be one. Like you said Bill, it’s only nostalgia now.

Modern college football now dictates that we’ll never play a team more than twice a decade (outside of our regular schedule).

aarh

May 20th, 2011
12:36 pm

solja- Yeah, AU did win a championship. Congrats on that, but don’t forget that UGA beat AU 4 straight yrs. before that. Everybody has down yrs. Just a couple yrs. before the championship & AU could barley win a game.

GADAWGS

May 20th, 2011
12:40 pm

Went to both Clemson games 02 and 03. We definitely need to play this more that twice a decade. I like your idea Bill.

We’re not that far away from Boise St. GOOOOOOOOOOO DAWGS!

Michael

May 20th, 2011
12:53 pm

2003 is probably easily the hottest game I have ever been to, home or away, in 47 years. It had to be at least 100 degrees in the stands, and who knows how hot on the field. Thank goodness for the Dawgs victory! I also will never forget Scott Woerner’s heroics in 1980!

Roar

May 20th, 2011
12:54 pm

solja: Don’t forget you are temporary custodians of the crystal ball.

On the topic of Clemson, we already have too much orange on the schedule. Playing the Tigers is like playing tek each year: nothing to gain, and a lot to lose. Let’s find someone else, and drop tek anyway.

At gator 2177

May 20th, 2011
1:01 pm

That is the truest statement I have ever read in this blog-”UGA and Clemson-the two schools with the biggest misconceptions about their prominence in college football.” When I moved to Atlanta a little over a year ago I was reading how UGA owned every football squad. How the were going to thrash UF. How they owned USC and Mississippi State. When I looked up the record of UF-UGA I saw that UGA has not even won 50% of the games in the last 20 years. They have not even won 25% of the games in the last 20 years. I wondered how they could see themselves as being so good! Then I saw what happened to them by South Carolina. Then Mississippi State. Then Colorado. Then I just realized that they were just “homies.”

Delbert D.

May 20th, 2011
1:10 pm

Swap Clemson and Vanderbilt. Everybody wins. Vandy might be that next team to go to the Big Ten, though. when they expand to 14 or 16. They already meet the AAU membership requirement.

Hart Co.

May 20th, 2011
1:26 pm

Worst game in the rivalry, the 1981 “Hershal Who” game.

CUFan

May 20th, 2011
1:26 pm

Clemson was the only team to beat (1981) Herschel Walker and the Dogs in a regular season game during Herschel’s 3 year tenure in Athens. UGA had 9 turnovers that day but managed to lose by only 13-3 at Death Valley.

Pago Pago Dawg

May 20th, 2011
1:27 pm

We could care less about opening games, the biggest game is in JAX!

DIT

May 20th, 2011
1:42 pm

I say let’s not worry about a rivalry between Clemson/UGA. I would love for us to go out and schedule home & away series with the Texas’s, Oklahoma’s MI’s & OSU. Yes, usually a weaker schedule helps you get to the NC game, but imagine if you put one of those games on the schedule and run through the SEC season undefeated or just 1 loss. If that team wins the NC game there would be no debate over who the NC should be and it would make the season that much more better.

I was blown away to read how long it’s been since UF left the state of Florida for a quality Non-Conference game. Not saying that they can’t win out of state, but that has to leave some UF fans shaking their heads. One would think y’all would want to see what it’s like to go to a game outside the state of Florida.

Anyway, here’s hoping that the Dawgs find some O-line players before the Boise State game.
Go Dawgs!

Destin Dawg

May 20th, 2011
1:46 pm

The Florida game shouldn’t be in JAX every year !!!! home game for Fla. and a road game for the dawgs !!!!! every yaer…. Home/Home or Atl./Jax would be fair…..

Destin Dawg

May 20th, 2011
1:46 pm

DawginLex

May 20th, 2011
1:48 pm

DIT,

2002 OL at UGA was same as 2011. 6 really good players and a bunch of freshmen. Keep them healthy and all is fine. We only had 1 running back in 2002 also. We were 9th in rushing in the SEC in 2002. Went 13-1

Defense is the key. Cut the PPG from 22 to 14 and the sky is the limit. The offense hasn’t changed in 10 years.

Petten on the rock by the lake

May 20th, 2011
1:49 pm

That 1984 game in Athens was my second game of my freshman year. The game before, there were so many tickets available that I told my best friend (and later my best man in my wedding) to come up for the Clemson game because it would be “easy” to get tickets. He still is so mad that he was watching through a crack in the old plywood they used to put on the bridge and could only see Butler kick the ball, and didn’t know if it went through. He still hates that he missed that game. Me? I had great seats in Sec 109 and remember clearly saying that the ball was closer to 61 yards than 60 before he kicked it…not that it mattered, it was through by a mile! Sorry, Skindohith.

DIT

May 20th, 2011
1:50 pm

@DawginLex

Good point. I forgot about that year being weak on the O-Line. The question is will they answer the call. I agree 100% about the defense. I know we are in the 2nd year of the defensive scheme, but pretty much have the same players as last year. That makes me nervous a bit.
To be honest I just don’t want to get my hopes up like i did last year. That was painful.

Mtn Dawg

May 20th, 2011
1:54 pm

@Gator2177…Like Flawedida and the Citital deserve one another. What a non-conference rivalry you’ve built up through the years. You should be proud.

Mtn Dawg

May 20th, 2011
1:58 pm

@At Gator2177… You must still be in diapers if all you have as reference is the last 20 years of UGA FLA football. This is exactly why those of you who are still wet behind the ears can’t appreciate just how big the rivalry between UGA and Clempson actually is. Too bad.

Athens= God's Country

May 20th, 2011
2:08 pm

2002 and 2003 were memorable due to all the love Charlie Whitehurst got. I have never seen a more overrated player in all of my life. He is still being tabbed to be a great QB.

I remember at the beginning of the 2003 game the ESPN announcer said, “That Charlie Whitehurst is the total package.” My friends and I died laughing! He went on to throw 3 or 4 int’s and got sacked multiple times.

Class of '98

May 20th, 2011
2:23 pm

Hotly contested? It’s 41-17-5 all time and UGA has won 5 in row. Is UGA-Kentucky “hotly contested” too?

Dink

May 20th, 2011
2:28 pm

Bill, some great memories… thanks! The 1980 game was as hard-hitting a game as any I’ve seen. Have to tip my hat to Homer Jordan, always liked and respected him.

Go Dawgs!

Hart Co.

May 20th, 2011
2:31 pm

Man, I used to love to hate Clemptson, even before they turned purple.