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October 5, 2009


Since 1973, only Georgia's 1995 team--Coach Ray Goff's final Bulldog squad--was an underdog in more games than favored (photo--The Red and Black).

Following Georgia's heartbreaking 20-13 loss to LSU, I refuse to discuss the Bulldogs' celebrating too early, inept running game, breakdown in special teams play, or the defense's inability to stop the Tigers at the most critical, final moments. You can read about such details on other blogs and sites, and frankly I don't want to think about the game any longer.

Instead, I'm posting about the role I suspect Georgia could be playing in this Saturday at Tennessee--that of an underdog. (As of Monday morning, the line for the Georgia-Tennessee game is a "pick 'em.") The position of the underdog is something the Dogs are somewhat unaccustomed to historically. Since 1973, in 439 games, Georgia has entered only 106 contests as the underdog, or just 24% of the time. Of these games, the Bulldogs have achieved an impressive 46-58-2 record, winning more than 44% of the time when deemed underdogs. Some interesting but meaningless stats/facts regarding Georgia in an underdog role since 1973:

Broken down by coach (Dooley 1973-1988), the percentage of total games entered as the underdog:

DOOLEY: 21.6% (141 favored, 41 underdog, 3 even, 5 no line)

GOFF: 33.3% (53 favored, 27 underdog, 0 even, 1 no line)

DONNAN: 28.8% (41 favored, 17 underdog, 0 even, 1 no line)

RICHT: 19.3% (83 favored, 21 underdog, 1 even, 4 no line)

The percentages above make perfect sense. The time period Georgia football struggled the most in the past 37 years was the Goff era. During this time, the Bulldogs were underdogs one-third of the time. Whereas in the current Richt era and in Dooley's final 16 seasons as coach, Georgia was the underdog in only approximately one-fifth of its games. The four coaches' records as underdogs:

DOOLEY: 21-19-1 (52.4 winning %)

GOFF: 7-19-1 (27.8%)

DONNAN: 7-10 (41.8%)

RICHT: 11-10 (52.4%)

Each coach, besides Goff, when faced with the role of the underdog, was rather successful. Remarkably, both Dooley and Richt were victorious more often than not when challenged by the situation. Seasons Georgia was regarded as the underdog on the most occasions:

1995: 7 games (2-5 record as underdog)

1978, 1984, 1990, 1991, 1999, and 2001: 5 games each season

Seasons Georgia won three or more games as an underdog:

1979: 3-0 (Wins over Ole Miss, LSU, and Georgia Tech)

1978: 3-2 (Baylor, Clemson, LSU)

1991: 3-2 (Clemson, Ole Miss, Georgia Tech)

2001: 3-2 (Tennessee, Ole Miss, Georgia Tech)

Worst seasons as an underdog:

1993: 0-3

2000: 0-3

1994: 0-3-1 (Tie was at Auburn)

1990: 1-4 (Win was over Alabama)

1995: 2-5 (Wins over Clemson and Georgia Tech)

Interestingly, of Georgia's five worst records as an underdog, four were during the Goff era--a coaching regime consisting of only seven seasons (1989-1995).

  • From the beginning of the 1979 season until midway through 1984, Georgia was 9-1 playing in an underdog role, losing only to Penn State in the 1983 Sugar Bowl when the Bulldogs were 4-point underdogs.
  • From the start of the 1992 season until October 1995, Georgia was 0-8-1 playing in an underdog role. The lone non-loss was a tie at Auburn in 1994 when the Dogs entered as 12.5-point underdogs. Speaking of which, the games since 1973 Georgia was the biggest underdog (by number of points) but did not lose:

20.5- Florida, 1997 (Won 37-17)

12.5- Auburn, 1994 (Tie 23-23)

11.5- Auburn, 2006 (Won 37-15)

11- Tennessee, 1973 (Won 35-31)

11- Tennessee, 2001 (Won 26-24)

10.5- Florida, 1975 (Won 10-7)

10.5- Auburn, 1986 (Won 20-16)

Come this Saturday at Tennessee, playing in an underdog role or not, let's just hope the Bulldogs will be victorious. This same team, playing as an underdog at Arkansas a few weeks back, showed it was certainly capable of doing so. In addition, Georgia has a head coach in Richt who, exhibiting more often than not, wins games when the odds are stacked against him.

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