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September 4, 2009

A Look Back: Oklahoma State

OCTOBER 19, 1946: GEORGIA 33, OKLAHOMA A&M 13 (Athens)

I was hoping to post all 10 games of my Great but Obscure series prior to the start of football season but ran out of time. I'll finish the series up during the off-season. Instead, the week of most games this football season, I'll look back upon and detail a specific, noteworthy meeting between Georgia and its upcoming opponent.

OKLAHOMA A&M and BOB FENIMORE: In 1944, Coach Jim Lookabaugh guided Oklahoma A&M to the best season in its history. The Aggies finished 8-1, including a 34-0 victory over TCU in the Cotton Bowl, and appeared in the AP Poll for the program's first time. Oklahoma A&M was led by Bob Fenimore, whose play was similar to that of Georgia's versatile Charley Trippi (photo). The sophomore halfback was arguably the best all-around player in the game, leading the nation in total offense, was third in rushing, eighth in passing, ninth in scoring, and 13th in punting.

A year later, the Aggies achieved a 9-0 mark, including a win over St. Mary's in the Sugar Bowl, and finished ranked fifth in the country. Fenimore, the school's first All-American, finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting. The "Blond Bomber" again led college football in total offense, was first in rushing, seventh in punting, and 13th in scoring.

THE GAME: Much of the same from before was expected of Fenimore and his Oklahoma A&M teammates in 1946; however, with the star halfback hampered with early-season injuries, the Aggies were only 1-2-1 heading into Athens. On the contrary, Georgia, led by the great Trippi, had won its first three games rather easily.

The two teams displayed their aerial attacks in front of 35,000 spectators at Sanford Stadium. Georgia led 19-0 after only one quarter, scoring on a John Donaldson 12-yard run, a 17-yard pass from Johnny Rauch to Donaldson, and a 47-yard pass from Trippi to Reid Moseley after Trippi had first caught a lateral from Rauch.

The Aggies cut their deficit to five points by halftime when both Fenimore and Bob Meinert scored on short runs in the second quarter. It was believed Fenimore could miss the game because of an injury but wound up playing most of the contest. In the third quarter, Georgia scored on a 5-yard run by Dick McPhee to pull ahead, 26-14. Later in the same quarter, Trippi intercepted Fenimore and dashed 70 yards into the end zone and Dick Jernigan's ensuing PAT was the game's final point.

Besides the final score, Georgia also led A&M in the statistics. The Bulldogs had an 18-14 first down advantage and gained 450 yards (252 rushing, 198 passing) to 267 (73 rushing, 194 passing). The teams combined for 55 pass attempts (an unheard of total at the time), completing 27 with seven intercepted (2 thrown by Georgia, 5 by A&M).

Trippi and Fenimore, two of football's greatest rushers of the era, were held in check as each rushed for only 21 yards. Nevertheless, Fenimore completed 13 of 28 passes for 184 yards and Trippi missed on only one pass of five attempts for 64 yards. Rauch led Georgia in passing, completing 8 of 16 attempts.

THE SEASON: Following the Georgia loss, Oklahoma A&M would drop four of its final six games to finish 3-7-1. The Bulldogs raced unscathed through the rest of their schedule to a perfect 11-0 record, including a 20-10 victory over North Carolina in the Sugar Bowl, and a second SEC title in five seasons. Georgia ended the season ranked third in the final AP Poll.

THE SERIES: Georgia 3-0

After hosting Oklahoma A&M in 1946 (became known as Oklahoma State in 1957), Georgia traveled to Stillwater, OK, the following season and defeated the Aggies ("Aggies" and "Cowboys" were used as nicknames by the school interchangeably until '57 when it settled on Cowboys). Rauch completed 12 of 17 passes for 183 yards and two touchdowns in the Bulldogs' 20-7 road victory. It would be another 60 years until the two schools faced off again--the season opener of 2007. It was another Georgia quarterback, sophomore Matthew Stafford, who played brilliantly, passing for 234 yards on 18 of 24 passes and two touchdowns in a 35-14 Bulldog win over the Cowboys and Coach Mike Gundy (who was 40 years of age at the time).

Other Comments:

  • A reader wants me to mention that there is a Georgia-OSU Watch Party at Atlanta's ESPN Zone (3030 Peachtree Road) for tomorrow's game. Sports anchor Zach Klein will be talking to fans throughout the game. Party Hardy!
  • Viewer "omari" is part of a rap group called MEAN GREEN. The group's rendition of Georgia's fight song...
  • I wanted to comment on how well I think the Dogs are going to do this season. First off, I tend to be somewhat pessimistic compared to other Bulldog prognosticators. However, since I began predicting Georgia's final record prior to each season (I believe I started in '95 or '96), I've been rather accurate, usually coming within a game or so of the final mark. I think Georgia will finish the 2009 regular season at 9-3 (5-3 in the conference). Unlike my final record prediction, I'll go out on a limb and forecast that we'll win by 11 points tomorrow.

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