A primer for young Dawgs who don’t understand how big Georgia-Clemson really is!

Georgia-Clemson logosWe discussed recently here Georgia’s great football rivalries, and it saddens me a little to think that for most younger fans Georgia-Clemson doesn’t fall in that category.

It’s no wonder. Despite being in such close proximity to each other and having such a rich history of gridiron clashes, the two schools haven’t played that much in recent decades: only four times in the 1990s and only twice since then, the last time being a decade ago. That’s in contrast to the period when I came of age as a Georgia fan, when the Dogs and the Tigers met nearly every year (and, in fact, every year from 1973 through 1987). Unfortunately, as conference schedules grew, the yearly grudge match became an occasional thing and one of the country’s greatest rivalries waned.

Of course, even UGA football newbies view this Saturday night’s game as a big one. After all the Bulldogs are the nation’s No. 5 team and Clemson ranks No. 8. It’s the first time in history that both Georgia and its opening opponent of the season will be ranked in the Top 10.

The previous highest-ranked opener for the Dogs was back in 1982, when No. 6 Georgia beat No. 11 Clemson in Athens.

But get this, younger Bulldogs: When that 1982 game took place, Georgia-Clemson was probably the biggest rivalry on the Dogs’ schedule, even bigger to many fans than Georgia-Florida in Jacksonville!

And during the rivalry’s greatest run in the early 1980s, Tiger fans and players were heard to declare that the Georgia game meant more to them than even playing the hated Gamecocks.

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.

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.

As I noted a couple of years ago when writing about the impending return of Georgia-Clemson for two games in 2013-14, great rivalries make for great trash talking, and aside from Tech, the legendary 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.

And only great rivalries get books written about them; Georgia-Clemson has one in Kyle King’s “Fighting Like Cats and Dogs” (more on that to come).

Georgia's Thomas Davis puts a big hit on Clemson's Charlie Whitehurst in the 2003 season opener. (University of Georgia)

Georgia's Thomas Davis puts a big hit on Clemson's Charlie Whitehurst in the 2003 season opener. (University of Georgia)

Looking ahead, with a possible nine-game conference schedule being considered by the SEC, Georgia-Clemson soon may be relegated to something that only happens in the occasional neutral-site kickoff game or in a bowl, but as a reminder of what a great rivalry the Dogs and Tigers have had over the years, I thought I’d trot out an updated recounting of 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 for the Dawgs. The typically tough Erk Russell defense notched two safeties that day, but it actually was an atypical game for UGA 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. It was a tightly fought game during the national championship season in which Clemson won the statistical battle but the Dogs had the key number on the scoreboard. 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 with Gomer Pyle himself, Jim Nabors, on hand 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. Herschel played more in the second half, though he wasn’t really a factor. 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. After coming back from being down two touchdowns at halftime to tie the game at 20, go ahead by 3 and then see Clemson tie it up again at 23-23, the Dogs upset the No. 2-ranked Tigers when Butler 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 since the 1980 opener with Herschel, the Dogs won a big upset in this nationally televised game in Death Valley thanks mostly to the spark provided by second-string quarterback James Jackson and a pair of interceptions by rover John Little. Georgia center Pete Anderson was also a hero that day for falling on a Bulldog fumble for a touchdown.

1991: Georgia wins 27-12 in Athens. On Goff’s best day as head coach, the Dogs upset the No. 6-ranked (and eventual ACC champion) Tigers on national television thanks to the efforts of freshman quarterback Eric Zeier, who replaced starter Greg Talley. It was a big day in local sports that also saw the Braves clinching the NL West.

2002: Georgia wins 31-28 in Athens. The close calls that characterized Georgia’s first SEC title season in 20 years started in this night game at Sanford Stadium as QB David Greene struggled. But backup D.J. Shockley, a redshirt freshman playing his first game, 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. Typical Georgia-Clemson.

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, preserved a shutout against the Tigers with a David Pollack interception. Perfect.

That’s the last time Georgia and Clemson played, but I’m hopeful this coming Saturday night will add another memorable Bulldogs win to my list!

JUNKYARD MAIL CALL

Got something you want to discuss concerning the upcoming football season or UGA athletics? Or a question you want the Junkyard Blawg to tackle? Email me at  junkyardblawg@gmail.com.

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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

183 comments Add your comment

Owen Scott, III

August 28th, 2013
9:23 am

Spike

August 28th, 2013
9:31 am

They used to come over to Athens the night before the game and paint the Tiger Paw logo on Baxter Street.

Twilb Dawg

August 28th, 2013
9:45 am

GO DAWGS! A great rivalry renewed. 41-17-4

tvradioguy

August 28th, 2013
9:46 am

Wonder why it is considered such a great rivary if UGA has such an overwhelming lead in the series.

PalmettoState

August 28th, 2013
9:50 am

If you Dogs don’t beat Clemson I got not one bit of respect for your team.

SC has pushed their soft ACC tails off the line for 4 past consecutive years and if you’re worth your salt — not to mention your top 5 ranking – you will too!

Go SEC! Kick some Cow Tech butt on Sat.

Flo-Ri-Duh

August 28th, 2013
9:51 am

BS35 (aka Milk Dud) – Please remember you are in rehab and remain positive for the DAWGS!

YOU CAN DO IT!

Southside Jacket

August 28th, 2013
9:52 am

Dog fans once again are delusional and full of self importance….heard one today 42-14….sorry UGA defense NOT that good….Clempsum wins a close on against UGAG

Stanley Osterhoudt

August 28th, 2013
9:53 am

Was there in 1983, when Clemson came out and the crowding started chanting Dawg Food it was deafening. Sanford was rocking that night.

ARdawg

August 28th, 2013
9:56 am

Huge. I would like to see it renewed more regularly

THEBuckeye

August 28th, 2013
10:02 am

No, don’t remember.

Kevin

August 28th, 2013
10:16 am

tvradio guy at 9:46 am, see the article for why it was such a great rivalry. Bill King clearly tells why – for a period of 10+ years in the 70’s and 80’s, it was one of the very best rivalries in the nation, AS WELL AS one of the biggest games of the year.

Or I could just say, you either weren’t alive back then or weren’t a college football fan. Otherwise, you’d know. I was born in upstate SC and moved to northeast GA in 2nd grade in early 1981. Georgia was national champs. Clemson would become the national champs that year. I lived 40 minutes above Athens and less than 40 from Clemson. I chose to be a Georgia fan as a 7-year old, and therefore, a Clemson hater.
As an adult living back in upstate SC and married to a Clemson grad from a family where EVERYONE graduated from Clemson (and her father was a VP at Clemson), I for one am glad they don’t play more often. We will be in Death Valley Saturday night, which happens to be my birthday. So it’s either going to be a great day for me and a bad day for my wife, or the opposite. And then we get to ride home with one smiling and one not talking!

ARdawg

August 28th, 2013
10:17 am

Buckey
You wouldn’t know about this, it’s a Southern thing

ugafan618

August 28th, 2013
10:22 am

A tech fan grasping for something to hope for against Georgia? Shocker…

I think it’s a great game with both defenses giving up some big plays. In the end, it’s Georgia’s ability to run the ball with 2 proven backs that will make more plays than Clemson will. Georgia wins with a late TD to pull away 38-24.

SimpleDawg

August 28th, 2013
10:22 am

Clempson……Auburn with a lake. Priceless.

It’s EZ2H8Rnge

Desert Fox

August 28th, 2013
10:30 am

The latest edition of this series is going to be a tossup. Both offenses are capable of scoring a ton of points unless either one of the defenses surprises us. I think this game will be decided by turn overs and points scored off turn overs. go you puppies!

Flo-Ri-Duh

August 28th, 2013
10:37 am

“No way can anyone kick the ball that far” I said as the ball was set up 2 feet PAST the 50 yard line – actually making it a 61 yard field goal. I was there on the 25 yard line as the ball approached the upright with 11 seconds to go in the 4th – it was good by at least 5 yards.

That was 1984 and I was there as UGA upset then ranked #2 Clempsun 26-23.

A big factor in that game was the heat 100 in the shade. Refrigerator Perry and his brother Michael were 330 lbs plus and anchored the center of Clemsun’s “D”. 300 lb’ers that could actually run was unheard of at the time. The heat and the Dawg’s double teaming OL eventually wore them down and UGA came back from being down 20-6 at the half to dominate the heat exhausted Clempsun DL.

Flo-Ri-Duh

August 28th, 2013
10:45 am

Lost in all these Clempsun/UGA comparisons is the fact that Clempson lost 75% of their run game when Andre Ellington graduated to the NFL. They also lost their 1st round draft choice WR who was responsible for at least half their pass receptions and TD’s through the air. This Clempson offense is not the same as last years offense.

Flo-Ri-Duh

August 28th, 2013
10:48 am

This Dawgs defense is much different than last years. Lighter and quicker on the DL and with much more depth though lacking somewhat in experience.

Little Corporal

August 28th, 2013
10:54 am

UGA’s Waterloo!

Flo-Ri-Duh

August 28th, 2013
11:02 am

Clemson’s Little Big Horn – and Dabo Custer’s last stand!

ARdawg

August 28th, 2013
11:03 am

Floriduh
You are hurting the haters fantasies with such talk. Clemson didn’t lose anyone, they’ll be playing in mid season form while this is only UGA’s first game and playing with only 3 guys on defense. They have to believe that

Big Crimson 75

August 28th, 2013
11:05 am

Lewis cracked that he hadn’t seen that many tractors since the last time Clemson played in Athens.
——
Don’t forget all the redneck flag waving.

Big Crimson 75

August 28th, 2013
11:08 am

This Dawgs defense is much different than last years. Lighter and quicker on the DL and with much more depth though lacking somewhat in experience.
—-
Rita…So basically what your saying is your front 7 would get mauled by Bama again!!

Flo-Ri-Duh

August 28th, 2013
11:11 am

ARdawg – For every UGA “hater” there are two lovers!

DAWG nation is united and strong.

Flo-Ri-Duh

August 28th, 2013
11:15 am

Big Crimson 75 – It will be Bama’s new OL against Dawg’s new DL.

And you ain’t got your best cheap shot artist Quinton Diahl.

Flo-Ri-Duh

August 28th, 2013
11:22 am

AS I recall Bama gave up a few yards too. Around 400. Bama’s heart and soul is gone with their OL to the NFL. They also lost a lot on the “D” as did UGA. Every team is different every year. Returning a bunch of starters doesn’t necessarily make you better. UGA has the talent though a little green on defense. Clemson is ACC and UGA is SEC. I’ll go with the SEC.

dawgfan

August 28th, 2013
11:34 am

We’re playing a top 10 team on prime time national television at their place. Can anyone remember the last time we won a game like this? I can’t. I can’t even remember being competive in a game like this recently.

Pago Pago Dawg

August 28th, 2013
11:49 am

Sure wish we could open with Buffalo like Ohio has to do.

NCDawg

August 28th, 2013
11:57 am

This one could be a classic. I have no illusions that our defense is going to shut Clemson down, even a really good, veteran defense would have some trouble BUT I still think our D is better than their D and in the end it will be their D’s inability to stop our offense that wins the day.

I think a bunch of points will be scored but it is possible that the final margin could be in the 10 point range. It depends on how quickly our D gets up to speed and of course turnovers.

dawgfan

August 28th, 2013
11:59 am

To answer my own question, it was 2009 Georgia Tech. And we all know what a total fraud they were. Let’s hope Clemson is as equally fraudulent.

Thanks.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

August 28th, 2013
12:05 pm

Can we start a petition to drop that has been program named GT and put Clemson in its spot

Clemson has a great fan base that can fill a college stadium Tech fans cant even fill the Varsity down the street

Im sure one of Techs 65 fans named GT Bob would sign it

ARdawg

August 28th, 2013
12:18 pm

dawgfan
I think Clemson is getting to where they want to go. You gotta like what Dabo is doing there. But, I don’t think they are there yet. Dabo, like Richt isn’t the best x’s and o’s coach but, like Richt is amassing some rich talent and will be atop the ACC. I don’t think they have the horses to stay with Georgia for 4 quarters though. Not really a fruad, just ain’t there yet

Tuck Fech

August 28th, 2013
12:19 pm

I was at the game in ‘84 as a 12 year old. I don’t think anyone in the entire stadium sat down during the second half. I remember the way the whole stadium seemed to shake as Dawgs fans stomped their feet repeatedly on those aluminum bleachers, and the roar that erupted when # 5 nailed that historic FG. What great memories! I’ll settle for that type of finish again (with a UGA win), but I’d much prefer to see the Dawgs win by 24. GATA!!

NCDawg

August 28th, 2013
12:23 pm

The last time we faced a Top 10 team to open a season was Ok St in Stillwater 2009. They were #9 at that time. The last Top 10 team we beat on the road was GT in 2009 in Atlanta. They were #7 at the time. That was on ABC in Primetime.

So it’s been 4 years. The counter gets reset Saturday night.

Tide Roll is a Moron

August 28th, 2013
12:25 pm

Tech fans wearing orange this week
Bama fans putting air in the tires on the double wide for road trip
Clemson looking for a defense that can stop the run

They won’t find it

42-27 Georgia

dawgfan

August 28th, 2013
12:35 pm

The game plan should be simple: Gurley, Gurley, and more Gurley with a little bit of Marshall thrown in for a change up. If Bobo tries to get all cutsie I might throw my television out of a window. Our defense needs to stay off the field. Unfortunately, look for Bobo to ignore the manbeast we have at tailback and throw a few unnecessary homerun bombs down field to “loosen them up.” The only thing that should be loosening them up is Gurley’s foot up their you know what’s. They haven’t seen anyone like him and surely won’t again in their chump ACC season.

Just my two cents.

Spanky

August 28th, 2013
12:39 pm

The Braves didn’t clinch the NL West…it was the East in ‘91….Awesome game, though!

NCDawg

August 28th, 2013
12:46 pm

Coach Richt does fine with X’s and O’s on the offensive side of the ball. Grantham seems to have scheme but the execution hasn’t been there. The scheme is only as good as the execution and sometimes that is more on the players than the coaches. And sometimes it’s vice versa.

I know alot of people on here fault play calling for some losses and in some cases that is true but if the play is executed the play caller looks like a genius. Also keep in mind that in our system the QB has a great deal of leeway in his checkdowns… they can audible out of the play called so sometimes the play called isn’t what get run. Coach Bobo isn’t going to throw his QB under the bus but that is what happens sometimes.

dawgfan

August 28th, 2013
12:53 pm

And who put the system in place that allows the QB to audible out of a play: Bobo. He is ultimately responsible for coordinating the offense is he not? I’m pretty sure that’s his job description. Anyway you slice it, Bobo is the only one that should get thrown under the bus.

Thanks.

OldDawg

August 28th, 2013
12:55 pm

The three things that will determine the outcome of this game: Special teams. Special teams. Special teams.

Mobile Dawg

August 28th, 2013
12:56 pm

Thanks for another trip down memory lane Bill….This is big, I would love to see the running game of Georgia totally dominate this contest keeping Boyd off the field. But if I know Richt and Bobo that won’t happen. One of the goals of our OC should be to keep the defense on the sideline, well rested.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

August 28th, 2013
1:06 pm

NCDawg

Really?? So its the players fault

ok

Just like it was Staffords fault we didnt win big and now Murray

I just love how when the coaching staff is called out its always you’re a fair weather fan or you need to find another team to pull

but its always perfectly fine to blame the players :roll:

13 years and we are still faulting the players; any wonder why this program consistently looses 2 or more ballgames every year

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

August 28th, 2013
1:08 pm

Olddawg

when has Richt ever emphasized special teams?

Paul

August 28th, 2013
1:12 pm

Spanky, it was the NL West in 1991. The Braves beat out the Dodgers by a game. Sanford Stadium did the chop and chant when it was announced. Then the Dawgs beat Clemson. Pretty much a perfect, memorable day.

JB

August 28th, 2013
1:12 pm

Haters on here come Monday:
Dawgs Win: Hell, it’s Clemson. Ya’ll ain’t beat nobody
Clemson wins: Hell, y’all let a little ole ACC team beat you guys.

GEEZ

Granthams The Man!

August 28th, 2013
1:12 pm

Aaron Murray, Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall are going to have a big night in Death Valley.

The Dawgs Defense blows a couple of assignments for big plays but they show their potential and keep the Tigers potent offense under 31 points.

Georgia wins by 7-17 points and are on their way. Go Dawgs!!!

AltamahaDawg

August 28th, 2013
1:14 pm

Don’t bite NCDawg, dude has come up with some new shtick about blaming players now. If a guy wants to be angry and defeated 3 days before the season starts, let him.

rockinreel

August 28th, 2013
1:16 pm

For you youngsters, the rivalry was big when these two teams won NCAA championships in back to back years. Not because GA had the edge in head to head match-ups since Moby Dick was a minnow.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

August 28th, 2013
1:24 pm

Altamaha

Look who just bit

Oh and yea you are right no one ever comes on these blogs and blames Murray or the players such as last years defense being a bunch prima donna’s on almost a daily basis right??

AltamahaDawg

August 28th, 2013
1:32 pm

yea….. the stadium did the chop that day, that was pretty cool. I had tickets to the braves on Sunday. I can’t say I was hoping they would lose just one more, but suffice it to say, they didn’t roll out the big boys after clinching.