SF-7x

September 30, 2009

Many Turnovers Lost + Few Turnovers Gained = Trouble?

The Georgia squad with the best turnover margin since 1947: the undefeated, untied, and undisputed 1980 National Champions.

There was much discussion earlier this week on other UGA blogs regarding Georgia's turnover margin issue through its first four games. Since this problem is something I pointed out in July the Dogs certainly needed to avoid to be successful in '09, I wanted to add my two cents on the issue but take a historical approach.
Currently, of the 120 FBS teams, Georgia ranks 115th with a -2.25 turnover margin (3 takeaways, 12 turnovers), yet the Bulldogs have won three of their first four games. Even more telling is that of the 10 teams with a turnover margin of -1.67 or worse, all but two (Georgia and West Virginia) have losing records and the combined record of the 10 schools is a lowly 8-28 (3-26 discounting Georgia and West Virginia).
Apparently, for the most part, if you often turn the football over but have the inability to force turnovers, you lose games and vice-versa. I thought I'd look back in Georgia history and see if my ingenious theory/formula held true.
Complete "official" team statistics for Georgia football exist since 1947. For the 1947 and 2002-2008 seasons, statistics include bowl games. Since the 1947 campaign, over the last 62 seasons, the top 5 Bulldog teams in turnover margin:
+2.09 1980 (11 games- 44 takeaways/21 turnovers) 11-0 record
+2.00 1982 (11- 46/24) 11-0
+1.60 1948 (10- 42/26) 9-1
+1.55 1979 (11- 49/32) 6-5
+1.10 1968 (10- 41/30) 8-0-2
There is certainly and not surprisingly a correlation between a high turnover margin and winning. Of the top five, only in 1979 did Georgia not have a regular-season mark with no or just one loss. Might I add, the '79 team nearly won the SEC title and almost made a trip to the Sugar Bowl despite its record.
The bottom 5 in turnover margin:
-1.90 1951 (10 games- 33 takeaways, 52 turnovers) 5-5 record
-1.00 1977 (11- 34/45) 5-6
-0.64 1973 (11- 19/26) 6-4-1
-0.60 1956 (10- 21/27) 3-6-1
-0.55 1996 (11- 23/29) 5-6
Again, as expected, Georgia's five worst team in terms of turnover margin had losing records or were right at or just above .500. In fact, of the Bulldogs' 13 squads with the lowest turnover margin, all with a negative-0.27 margin or worse, nine had a losing or .500 record and none of the 13 had a better record than the 1953 team (-0.45) that had just a 7-4 mark. Let me add that of the 62 seasons being examined, only 15 had losing or .500 records (12 losing, three .500).
Has Georgia ever had a team with a positive turnover margin but a losing record or, as this season is seemingly shaping up, a squad with a negative turnover margin but was successful?
The 1952 Bulldogs finished 5-5 but were +0.82. Georgia's highest ranking turnover margin team with a losing record: the 1963 Bulldogs (4-5-1 record), who rank only tied for 21st of 62 teams with a +0.70 margin.
Since 1947, Georgia has never had a highly-successful team with a very low turnover margin. Last season's 10-3 squad was in the negative (-0.23) as was the 2004 team (-0.17), who went 10-2, and the SEC champions of 1959 (-0.10). However, as you can see, these three squads nearly gained as many turnovers as they lost. In fact, as it turns out, Georgia having a negative turnover margin is somewhat uncommon; of the 62 teams, 41 had a positive margin, 2 were even, and only 19 were in the negative. Spanning the entire 1947-2008 period of 679 games, Georgia forced 1,836 turnovers (944 interceptions, 892 fumbles) and lost 1,593 (755 interceptions, 838 fumbles) for an all-time turnover margin of +0.36 entering the '09 season. A side note:
Entering the 1977 season, the Bulldogs were ranked 19th in the AP preseason poll and predicted to finish with a fine 8-3 or 9-2 record by most of the pundits. Although quarterbacks Ray Goff and Matt Robinson had graduated from Georgia's 1976 SEC championship team along with six other starters on offense, running backs Kevin McLee (the school's soon-to-be all-time leading rusher) and Willie McClendon (the eventual single-season rushing leader) returned to spearhead the Bulldogs' feared veer offense.
Defensively, Georgia appeared particularly strong, returning All-Americans Ben Zambiasi and Bill Krug and All-SEC Ronnie Swoopes from the Junkyard Dogs (or "Runts," if you prefer) defense of 1976.
Similarly to the current 2009 team, turnovers unfortunately plagued the Bulldogs of '77 from the get go. In a 7-6 loss to Clemson in game two, Georgia's first loss in Athens to the Tigers in 18 games since 1914, the Bulldogs lost two critical fumbles and tossed two interceptions. The following week, Georgia lost a record six fumbles at South Carolina (remains a school record) but was able to overcome the turnovers and earn Coach Dooley's 100th victory by a 15-13 score. Somehow, some way, despite Georgia's frequent miscues, the Bulldogs stood at 4-2 heading into the second half of the season. However, their turnovers would soon begin to "catch up" with the Dogs.
First, Georgia was embarrassed at home versus Kentucky in a 33-0 loss in front of Prince Charles. On Homecoming, the Bulldogs defeated Richmond by only 16 points and were outgained in yardage, 288-301. Georgia ended the season against its "Big Three" by losing to the trio of Florida, Auburn, and Georgia Tech. Against Auburn, the Bulldogs tied their school record by losing six fumbles for a second time.
Georgia ended its '77 season, a year that actually got off to a good start, with a 5-6 record--the Bulldogs' only losing campaign in Dooley's 25 years as head coach. The main factor in Georgia's demise: mistakes, primarily turnovers. The Bulldogs lost a school-record 35 fumbles for the season which remains 14 more than the second-most total since 1947 (21 in 1967). Georgia also threw 10 interceptions in only 137 pass attempts and 53 completions. You'll notice above the Bulldogs' second-worst turnover margin over the previous 62 seasons--a negative-1.00 in 1977--a season with a lot of promise but one that ended badly because Georgia, by the end of the year, was not able to overcome its turnovers.
Don't get me wrong; I'm not saying Georgia's current recurring issues with turnovers is going to eventually lead to a losing season for the Dogs, similarly to 32 years ago. In fact, I still stand by my preseason prediction of a 9-3 mark for 2009. However, my point is Georgia quickly needs to address its problem of not forcing turnovers but losing them with some regularity. The Bulldogs were able to overcome negative-2 turnover margins against South Carolina, Arkansas, and Arizona State. However, Georgia has been extremely fortunate and its luck is bound to eventually run out. A negative-2 or more turnover margin against LSU, Tennessee, Florida, Auburn, or Georgia Tech will likely equate to a loss. There are only so many times mistakes and turnovers can be overcome time after time. Want proof? Just ask the 1977 team...

September 27, 2009

You Smell Corn Dogs?


Last night's win over Arizona State was another close call over an opponent the Dogs probably should have defeated by more. I'll post within the next few days on Georgia's recurring turnover margin issue that appears to be plaguing the team, yet the Bulldogs have won three of four games. Nevertheless, with the Tigers coming into town this week, I wanted to first speak on a more pressing concern... LSU fans smelling like corn dogs.
I first heard of the "LSU Corn Dog" when a friend emailed it to me prior to Georgia's game against the Tigers in 2003 or 2004. Since around that time, the quirky humor has spread like wildfire. Mention "LSU fans" and "corn dogs" to college football fans from the southeast, especially those that spend their fair share of time on the Internet, and most are aware of what you're speaking of. Many rumors abound of where it originated. Some LSU faithful (I'm guessing the ones that actually do smell like corn dogs) say it was written without any one team's fans in mind, any school could be substituted for "LSU" to suit one's humor. However, the most popular theory of where it came is from an Auburn fan, who might have taken the idea from a follower of a Big XII conference school. Who knows?
Anyway, read what has opposing fans taunting, LSU fans agitated, and even news anchors discussing... The Chronicle, The Myth, The Legend:

LSU fans smell just like corn dogs.

Yes, it is often said, but so, so true.

LSU fans do smell like corn dogs.

I would never tell them that to their face though. This is something
better said at internet distances. Even now, I am afraid.

I am afraid that they'll know I said it. I'll walk past an LSU fan
someday, and he'll see that look in my eye that gives it away.
That look that says, "gee, what is that smell? Is it corn dogs?"
The next thing you know, I'll have flat tires on my car.

If you only learn one thing from me today, remember not to tell LSU
fans how they smell - you know, like corn dogs.

LSU fans seem, somehow, sensitive to that whole corn dog issue.

I think this may be why a lot of fans get beaten up by LSU fans. If you
attend a game in Baton Rouge, try to avoid telling them that they smell
like corn dogs. Say something else instead. Like, "Wow, LSU sure does
have a great team this year. This is going to be a great SEC game."

It's hard. I know. It's like when you're having sex and you try to
think about baseball. That corn dog smell is just so overwhelming.
It makes it hard for you to think about football or baseball or
whatever else. Your brain wanders into corn dog topics like: "Gee, I
wonder if I took a bite of your finger, if you would taste just like
a corn dog?"; or "Is this a real person or is it a giant corn dog trying
to make me think it is a real person?" or "What did that giant corn dog
just say?" or "Excuse me, Mister, why is it that you smell just exactly
like corn dogs smell?" or, of course, after a silencer:
"Madam, did you just let the corn dogs out?"

Heck, after what I've heard about LSU fans, I think it may be better
not to smell them at all. Okay, not all of them. Some of them are
nice. Sure. Smell the nice ones. That's okay.

You know what else is a bad thing to do? Holding your nose around them.
They are real sensitive to that, too. Try holding your breath. But
don't be obvious about it. Somehow they know you're trying not to
breathe in the corn dog smell. And that offends them. They'll likely
punch you for that if they catch on to what you're doing.

If you do breathe it in long enough, though, it'll permeate your whole
body, and then you'll smell like a corn dog just like they do. But
don't say, "Dang, now I smell like a corn dog." They take offense to
that. And they will throw things. But not corn dogs. Hard stuff.
Stuff that leaves bruises and makes you bleed. Then you may have to get
stitches or something. Just don't say it. If you do start smelling like
a corn dog, just shut up about it. Okay?

I think kids are acutely aware of corn dog smells too. Counsel your
kids on how to behave around LSU fans. If LSU fans are driving around
town, do not let your kids stick their heads out of your car window and
sniff the air. No. Keep your windows rolled up. An odd change in
their expression - indicating they smell corn dogs - might get a wrench
or pipe or some other object tossed at your windshield. So, that's
dangerous. Let your kids stick their heads out of the car windows as
you drive - on some other weekend

I know you are just as puzzled as I am about some of this corn dog
stuff. What puzzles me most is that I've never actually seen any of
these LSU fans with a corn dog in their hand. Okay, maybe there's no
mystery there - maybe they already ate the corn dogs. Who knows?
Maybe there's a corn dog factory in Baton Rouge and they all work there.
Maybe, there's a corn dog lotion that they wear, or a French perfume.
Maybe their city council puts corn dog juice in the water supply -
kind of like fluoride. The politics there are probably weird.
The big political issue during the city election is whether they should
add more ketchup or more mustard to the water. Don't comment on it
though. It's not politically correct over there. It's like a
malnutrition issue or something. It's like the corn dogs are probably
added to the water to prevent starvation or something.

I know when you go to Baton Rouge, you're thinking: "Ahhhh. Here I am
in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I'll bet the people here smell just like
boiled crawfish or shrimp etoufe' or some fancy Cajun food." But just
stop thinking that. That's just a myth. They smell just like corn dogs.

In fact, please listen to my advice. Leave them alone about the corn
dog odor. And don't try masking the odor with something stronger.
They'll curse at you. They'll say something like: "WTF, how dare you
smoke a cigar in my home," or "WTF!! Are you too good for the smell of
corn dogs?" and they'll cuss out your kids too: "WTF!!! Little Mister
fancy pants over here acts like he doesn't want to smell like corn dogs."

Cajuns are not like us. Don't you see that, yet? They are really
sensitive about being sniffed and about their corn dog aroma. They know
they smell like corn dogs and it is no laughing matter to them at all.
I know, I know. We sniff the bammers and the UGA dawgs and the Ole
messes, and we keep a straight face with each of them, but don't press
your luck with the Cajun tiger fans. Don't refer to Death Valley as corn
dog valley either. I mean that's just wrong. Even if you've been
drinking, they'll beat you up and curse out your kids.

Along these lines, be extra careful when you laugh in their direction -
even if you're laughing about something else. Like baseball or football,
or sex or whatever. If you can't control yourself and you must laugh
though, do not snort. The snorting makes them think that you smell their
corn dog body odor from a distance or that you're choking on it or
something. They'll likely burn your van for that. We lost a campus
building over just one snort.

So, just remember. You can love one another without sniffing each
other. You can enjoy the clash of a couple of good football teams.
You can enjoy the thrill of the rivalry. But after the game, please heed
my words. Please just move along. No sniffing the opposing fans this
Saturday. Okay? Get your corn dog jollies at home.

Enough with this corn dog talk. Let's play ball...

September 25, 2009

Dogs vs. Pac-10

This Saturday the Bulldogs play a current member of the Pac-10 conference for only the 15th time in Georgia football history (photo--GeorgiaDogs.com).
Light posting this week because I just recently got home from the hospital where my wife had our second child--a BIG baby girl. I've already had a friend say, "Man, she's big! She could suit up this Saturday and play linebacker for Georgia." Maybe she could be a cheerleader instead, I thought, for obvious reasons. Of course, if she could help the Bulldogs' secondary in pass coverage, I might reconsider.
On another note, since Georgia has played Arizona State only once before, instead of a "Look Back" feature this week on the Sun Devils, I thought I'd post on the Bulldogs' history against current Pac-10 teams. Georgia has played Pac-10 schools on 14 prior occasions entering Saturday's game, losing only four times. Disregard the 0-3 record against USC and the Bulldogs are 9-1-1 versus the rest of the Pac-10.
The following is a listing of Georgia's all-time results against the Pac-10 along with some comments/details on each of the 14 meetings. Indicated prior to the opponent are Georgia and the opponent's AP poll rankings entering the contest (since 1936). NR=not ranked. On the second line before the game's result, mentioned is the team who was favored and by how many points prior to kickoff (since 1973).
1931: SOUTHERN CAL (Los Angeles)

Lost 60-0

1933: SOUTHERN CAL (Los Angeles)

Lost 31-0

1943: #2/#13 UCLA (Rose Bowl)

Won 9-0
1960: NR/NR SOUTHERN CAL (Los Angeles)

Lost 10-3

1971: #18/NR OREGON STATE (Athens)

Won 56-25

1974: NR/NR OREGON STATE (Athens)

GA 16-pt favorite, Won 48-35

1976: #16/#15 CALIFORNIA (Athens)

GA 3-pt favorite, Won 36-24

1977: #19/NR OREGON (Athens)

GA 21-pt favorite, Won 27-16

1978: #11/NR STANFORD (Bluebonnet Bowl)

SU 7.5-pt favorite, Lost 25-22

1981: #6/NR CALIFORNIA (Athens)

GA 17.5-pt favorite, Won 27-13

1983: #15/#20 UCLA (Athens)

GA 2.5-pt favorite, Won 19-8

1985: NR/NR ARIZONA (Sun Bowl)

GA 5.5-pt favorite, Tie 13-13

1987: #20/NR OREGON STATE (Athens)

GA 18.5-pt favorite, Won 41-7

2008: #3/NR ARIZONA STATE (Tempe)

GA 7-pt favorite, Won 27-10

The Bulldogs' play against current Pac-10 schools began in 1931 when, like today, there were 10 members of the conference. However, Arizona and Arizona State were in the small, five-member "Border" conference in 1931; Montana and Idaho were part of the Pac-10 at the time.

Georgia had started playing "intersectional" games, or contests against schools outside of its conference or the southeast, in 1916 when the Red and Black traveled to face Navy in Annapolis, Maryland. But when the Bulldogs played Southern California in Los Angeles for their season finale of 1931, it was Georgia's first trip west of New Orleans. The '31 Bulldogs are considered one of the best squads in school history and were declared "best team in country" earlier that season by a newspaper reporter, ironically from Los Angeles. However, in the L.A. Coliseum, the Trojans drilled Georgia 60-0. In what still remains the biggest loss in school history, the Bulldogs turned the ball over six times (USC none) and allowed nearly 500 yards rushing in defeat.

Two years later, the end result wasn't much better when Georgia returned to play at USC in 1933. Reportedly, the Bulldogs played hard and trailed just 7-0 at halftime. Nevertheless, the mighty Trojans ran away with it in the second half and prevailed, 31-0.

Unlike most previous seasons, Georgia was not only one of the best teams in the south in 1942 but in all of college football and was invited to play in its first and only Rose Bowl to face Pac-10 champion UCLA. On their way to the first of two consensus national championships, the Bulldogs defeated the Bruins 9-0 with all scoring occurring in the final quarter. Heisman-Trophy winner Frank Sinkwich was hobbled with injuries to both ankles but scored the game's lone touchdown. However, sophomore Charley Trippi stole the show, rushing for 115 yards, passing for an additional 96, intercepting a pass, and punting for a 49.5 average.

Georgia revisited USC and Los Angeles in 1960 and its third time was not the charm as the Bulldogs were defeated by a touchdown. The game, played on a Friday night, attracted only a little over 28,000 spectators to the Coliseum. All-American Fran Tarkenton passed for a career-high 168 yards but threw four costly interceptions as the Dogs were upset on the road.

Oregon State came to Athens in 1971 and were soundly defeated by 31 points. Actually, the Beavers trailed 56-7 in the fourth quarter but, aided by recovering two onside kicks, scored the game's final 18 points on three touchdown passes. Georgia's Buzy Rosenberg had 202 yards on punt returns, taking two back for scores. Quarterback Andy Johnson, playing in his first varsity game, rushed for over 100 yards and two touchdowns. Rosenberg's 202 yards remain a school record (one yard shy of the SEC record of 203) and his two touchdowns are the only time in Georgia history an individual has returned two or more kicks of any kind for touchdowns in a single game.

In 1974, Coach Dee Andros, nicknamed the "Great Pumpkin" because of his large size and the solid orange jacket he'd often wear on the sidelines, brought his Beavers to Georgia for the second time in four years. And for the second time, the Bulldogs and Oregon State were involved in a high-scoring game. Georgia's quarterbacks, Matt Robinson, Ray Goff, and Dicky Clark, all sophomores, all had a hand in the Bulldogs' 345 rushing yards and 119 passing. Notwithstanding, it was halfback Horace King who tossed the first of Georgia's three passing touchdowns. "[I] always wanted to be a quarterback anyway," said King following the victory.

In the first quarter of Georgia's game against Oregon in 1977, Bulldog quarterback Jeff Pyburn scored the contest's first points on a three-yard touchdown run. Freshman placekicker Rex Robinson came on and promptly missed his first collegiate point-after attempt. However, Robinson would never miss again as a Bulldog, converting 101 consecutive regular-season PATs through his senior year of 1980--the second most in NCAA history upon Robinson's departure from Georgia.

In the 1978 Bluebonnet Bowl, Georgia rolled up 504 total yards and held a 22-0 lead on Stanford in Houston's Astrodome. The Cardinals stormed back, however, and defeated the Bulldogs, 25-22. Five lost fumbles by Georgia was the difference in its heart-breaking loss. The Bulldogs got sweet bowl revenge later in the 1998 Peach, 2000 Outback, and 2006 Chick-fil-A bowls when Georgia faced 21, 25, and 18-point deficits but came back to win all three games.

Sophomore defensive lineman Stan Dooley was only playing against California in 1981 because of an injury to Freddie Gilbert. Dooley had not played at all the week prior against Tennessee in the season opener or as a freshman in 1980, appearing only on Georgia's junior varsity. Nevertheless, Dooley was Georgia's standout defender against Cal, recording three of the Bulldogs' eight sacks.

In 1983, UCLA had the ball on Georgia's 31-yard line with less than a minute remaining and trailing only 12-8. Rick Neuheisel was intercepted by Charlie Dean, who returned the errant throw "officially" for a 69-yard touchdown to seal a Bulldog victory. Two tidbits few know (and probably could care less to know) regarding Dean's return: Georgia had only 10 men on the field but yet Neuheisel still could not find an open man besides the opposing Dean. And Dean's return was actually 74 yards not 69. The line of scrimmage was the 31-yard line but the interception was made at the 26. The official statistician, for whatever reason, mistakenly gave Dean credit for his return from where the ball was snapped and not where the interception was corralled.
Entering the final quarter of the 1985 Sun Bowl, Georgia trailed Arizona 13-3 but rallied to score 10 unanswered points to tie the game. With 1:09 remaining, Georgia's David Jacobs, filling in for injured Steve Crumley, missed a 44-yard field goal that would have given the Bulldogs the lead. The Wildcats drove the field and their kicker, All-American Max Zendejas, missed a 39-yard field goal with four seconds left and the game ended in a tie. Zendejas was voted the bowl's MVP; the balloting had been completed prior to his failed field goal.
Against Oregon State in 1987, Lars Tate rushed for 132 yards and tied a modern school-record with four touchdowns; the fourth came with nearly 20 minutes still remaining to play in the game. Tate's record was shared by several others including himself, who scored four touchdowns the year before against Richmond.
After playing nine Pac-10 foes during a 17-season span (1971-1987), for the first time in more than 20 years, Georgia finally faced another when it met Arizona State in 2008. Also, the Bulldogs' trip to Tempe was their first outside the southeast for a regular-season contest in more than 40 years (1967 at Houston). Led by Knowshon Moreno, Matthew Stafford, and a stingy defense, Georgia played likely its best all-around game for the entire 2008 season (and also through the first three games of '09).

September 20, 2009

Another Shootout, Another Victory

GEORGIA 52, Arkansas 41
For the second consecutive week, Georgia was involved in a high-scoring affair that eventually ended with the Bulldogs on top. In 115+ seasons and 1,168 total games played in UGA football history, the 93 combined points from last night are the seventh most scored by Georgia and its opponent in a single game and most in a non-overtime game in nearly 25 years. Georgia's 52 points were more than its basketball team scored in five of its 16 conference games during the 2008-09 season.
The Bulldogs experienced the very same problems which plagued them a week ago and most of 2008: quarterback Ryan Mallett broke records against Georgia's shoddy defense, the Bulldogs' 14 penalties marked the seventh time since the start of the '08 campaign Georgia has been flagged at least 10 times in a game, the Dogs' defense registered just two or less sacks for the 10th time in their last 11 games, and Georgia committed three turnovers while forcing just one. The Bulldogs currently rank tied for 116th of 120 FBS teams in turnover margin (-2.33).
Nevertheless, Georgia's offense bailed the team out with one of its most impressive performances in recent memory. Joe Cox (photo--David Manning of Online Athens) was nearly flawless at quarterback. Although 80 came on a single carry, Richard Samuel's 104 rushing yards made him just the fourth Bulldog since the start of the 2006 season to have a 100-yard rushing performance. Caleb King's 2009 debut was impressive, rushing 11 times for 59 yards, 10 for 54 coming in the final two-and-a-half quarters. Like always, A.J. Green was spectacular while senior Michael Moore (6 catches, 91 yards) had his best game, besides last season's Capital One Bowl, of his collegiate career.
As mentioned, although the defense suffered mightily, for the second straight game, it stiffened towards the end of the contest and when it counted the most. Mallett was brilliant through the first 43 minutes of the game, completing 18 of 25 passes for 372 yards and five touchdowns. However, in the final 17 minutes, he was dreadful, passing for only 36 yards on just 3 of 14 passing. Arkansas averaged more than 9.6 yards per offensive play in its first 43 plays but was held to a 3.6 average in their final 20 plays.

THE GREATEST EVER?

Joe Cox was simply unbelievable, completing 18 of 25 passes for 375 yards, 5 touchdowns and just once interception. Statistically, it is arguably the greatest passing performance in the history of Georgia football.

Forty-six times 11 different Bulldog quarterbacks have thrown for 300+ yards in a single game: Eric Zeier (15), Quincy Carter (8), David Greene (8), Mike Bobo (4), Matthew Stafford (3), Cory Phillips (2), D.J. Shockley (2), Charley Trippi (1), Larry Rakestraw (1), Hines Ward (1), and, as of last night, Joe Cox (1). Of these 46, Cox's passing efficiency rating of 256.00 against Arkansas is the second highest. The top 10 sorted by passer rating:

278.04 Eric Zeier (1993- Texas Tech): 13 of 19, 317 yds, 4 TD, 0 int

256.00 Joe Cox (2009- Arkansas): 18 of 25, 375 yds, 5 TD, 1 int

232.16 David Greene (2002- Vanderbilt): 20 of 23, 319 yds, 2 TD, 0 int

216.61 Matthew Stafford (2008- Kentucky): 17 of 27, 376 yds, 3 TD, 0 int

212.90 Eric Zeier (1991- Kentucky): 19 of 23, 302 yds, 2 TD, 1 int

209.21 David Greene (2004- Arkansas): 22 of 29, 382 yds, 2 TD, 0 int

200.10 Eric Zeier (1993- Vanderbilt): 25 of 35, 379 yds, 4 TD, 0 int

197.00 David Greene (2001- Vanderbilt): 19 of 26, 305 yds, 2 TD, 0 int

189.90 Mike Bobo (1997- Georgia Tech): 30 of 39, 415 yds, 4 TD, 2 int

* n/a Charley Trippi (1945- Georgia Tech): 12 of 23, 323 yds, 3 TD

*Despite considerable research, the number of interceptions, if any, thrown by Trippi against Georgia Tech in 1945 is uncertain. The only way Trippi's passing rating for that game would not appear in the above top 10 is if he threw three or more interceptions, which is highly doubtful. If he was intercepted twice, his rating would still rank 9th, once--7th, and no interceptions--5th.

Other Notes:

  • Cox's current 165.49 passing rating for the year ranks 12th in the Bowl Subdivision. The season is still young, but if Cox loses little to no ground, he will be the fifth Bulldog quarterback in just the last eight seasons to rank 18th or higher in passing efficiency.
  • Brandon Boykin added 146 yards on kickoff returns Saturday giving him 356 for the year--the fourth most nationally. He only needs 335 more to break Georgia's single-season mark of 690 set by Asher Allen in 2007. Boykin's 32.4 kickoff return average ranks 15th in the country.
  • Against Georgia, Arkansas' Mallett set single-game school records for passing yards, the Razorbacks' first 400-yard passing game in their history, and passing touchdowns. His 408 passing yards tied for the fourth most ever surrendered by the Bulldogs while his five passing touchdowns tied for the most ever allowed by Georgia.

September 15, 2009

Three Wins and Counting...

I've mentioned a couple times before Georgia's deserving but apparently oversighted victories over an Atlanta club team in 1908 and 1909 not included in UGA's "official" football records. I thought I'd conduct further research into this matter by examining and comparing the previous time the Red and Black had faced a football "club team"--1906 vs. the Savannah Athletic Club (AC).

I found more than what was intended when I discovered ANOTHER game--a 53 to 2 victory over Dahlonega played on November 17, 1906 (photo--The Red and Black)--not listed in Georgia's records. If you look at the yearly results section of this year's football media guide under the 1906 season, Georgia played Georgia Tech on November 10 and Tennessee on November 21, but missing is the Dahlonega game played between those two dates. The 1906 game versus the "Mountain Team" should certainly be acknowledged considering we also played Dahlonega the season before (1905), the two seasons following (1907 and 1908), and on three consecutive occasions a few years later (1913-1915); all six of these contests against Dahlonega are recognized by UGA. It appears now at least three additional victories should be credited to the football program but currently are not due to seemingly error and/or omissions made many years ago.

Add the three omitted victories to Georgia's currently recognized all-time wins and the total stands at 727--11th most in Division I-A history and 15th in all of college football, including Divisions I-AA, II, III, and NAIA teams (The all-time win totals of Yale, Harvard, Penn, and Princeton, all I-AA schools, exceed Georgia's). Although the Bulldogs still remain 41 wins behind 10th (in I-A) and 14th-ranked (in all of college football) Southern Cal, at the rate I'm finding missing Georgia victories, the Dogs could catch the Trojans in no time.

Not all news is good. Shortly after discovering the missing Dahlonega win, I found a FOURTH excluded game. This one is like the previous three in that it was played 100 years or more ago; however, the end result was unfortunately different--a loss by a score of 5 to 6 to the "Agricultural & Mechanical (A&M) College of North Carolina," now known as N.C. State.

September 14, 2009

Pick 'Em

Ray Goff pitches to Glynn Harrison against South Carolina in 1975 (photo--The Red and Black).

I noticed this morning the pointspread or "line" for this Saturday night's Georgia game at Arkansas is an uncommon "pick 'em" or even odds. Now, the chances this line will remain at a pick 'em until kickoff, or even eventually shift but return to even odds where it started, is highly unlikely. Nevertheless, it reminded me of the very few Bulldog football games that kicked off at equal odds.

Since 1973, and two months ago I mentioned why this season in particular, of Georgia's 436 games, the Bulldogs were favored in 316, underdogs for 105, there were even odds for only four, and on 11 occasions, there was "no line" for the game. Until recently, no line or "NL" was designated to most games involving a Division I-A team playing an opponent of a lower division (i.e., Georgia Southern, William & Mary, Western Carolina, etc.).

Georgia has had great success in its four games of an even pointspread, winning all four, including two bowl games. A quick recap of those four:

December 28, 1973 (Peach Bowl): 17-16 over Maryland

In front of a disappointing 38,107 spectators in Atlanta's sixth-annual Peach Bowl, the Bulldogs faced 18th-ranked Maryland. The bowl's first points were scored when Georgia's Andy Johnson threw a screen pass to halfback Jimmy Poulos. Poulos, playing in his last game as a Bulldog, reversed his field, side-stepped defenders, and broke tackles on his way to a 62-yard touchdown. Late in the third quarter with the scored tied 10-10, freshman Sylvester Boler, the "Black Blur" and the bowl's defensive MVP, laid a crushing tackle on a Terrapin ball carrier. Georgia recovered a fumble and three plays later, Johnson scored from one yard out. The Bulldogs would hold on to win by a single point and capture its fourth game of its final five following a 3-3-1 start, including losses to Vanderbilt and Kentucky.

September 27, 1975: 28-20 over South Carolina

At night in Columbia, although passing for only 19 yards, Georgia rushed for 403 and held off a late Gamecock rally for an eight-point win. Glynn Harrison led the Bulldogs with 160 yards on 20 carries and a touchdown but it was a little-known sophomore who caught the attention of most. Kevin McLee, far from a highly-publicized back, rushed for 130 yards on 24 carries and two touchdowns. A little more than two years later during his senior season of 1977, the one-time obscure McLee would pass the great Frank Sinkwich as Georgia's all-time leading rusher. After more than 30 years, his 2,581 career rushing yards still rank seventh in school history.

January 1, 1989 (Gator Bowl): 34-27 over Michigan State

In his final game at Georgia, Coach Vince Dooley went out a winner in an offensive shootout in Jacksonville. The Bulldogs, who had been strictly a running team during the regular season, took to the air. Wayne Johnson, Georgia's bowl MVP, completed 15 of 27 passes for 227 yards, three TDs with no interceptions, and also added 30 yards rushing. Rodney Hampton led the Bulldogs in both rushing (109 yards on just 10 carries) and receiving (four catches for 71 yards) and scored three touchdowns. In a losing effort, MSU's Andre Rison had one of the best bowl performances in college football history, catching nine passes for 252 yards and three touchdowns.

October 25, 2008: 52-38 over LSU

LSU began the week as a slight favorite; however, by kickoff, the odds were dead even in the 27th game between the Bulldogs and Tigers. The so-called "experts" must have known something as Coach Mark Richt improved his record against ranked teams to an impressive 26-14. Georgia's Matthew Stafford threw for 249 yards on 17 of 26 passing and two touchdowns. Sophomore Knowshon Moreno rushed for 163 yards on 21 carries and a 68-yard touchdown. Although the Bulldog defense yielded 38 points and nearly 500 yards, it intercepted three passes, including two returned for touchdowns by linebacker Darryl Gamble.

Like I said, the chances Georgia-Arkansas remains a pick 'em game is slim. In fact, I just checked again and the early money must be getting laid on the Hogs as Arkansas is now currently a one-point favorite. If the Razorbacks stay the favorite, 2009 will be only the third season since 1973 Georgia began the year an underdog in at least two of its first three games. In 1985, the Bulldogs opened the season underdogs to Alabama, were then favored against Baylor, and then an underdog at Clemson. In 1978, Georgia started the season as underdogs in its first three games against Baylor, Clemson, and at South Carolina.

September 13, 2009

Dawgs Win Thriller

GEORGIA 41, South Carolina 37
In what was expected to be a typical Georgia-South Carolina, low-scoring affair, last night's game was everything but... The Bulldogs' slim victory, which featured a whopping total of 78 points, exhibited a little bit of everything: a special teams touchdown, an interception returned for a score, a safety, an all-important blocked PAT, and seven field goals--a scoring shootout unanticipated by most. The combined points, 54 of which were scored in the first half alone, were the second most in the 62-game series between the schools; the 735 combined total yards (S. Carolina- 427, Georgia- 308) were the most in the series since the 778 totaled in 1997.
On offense, Joe Cox had a solid performance, especially compared to his play in the Oklahoma State loss, and unlike last week, was able to get the ball with some regularity to the most talented player on the field--A.J. Green. The offensive line's play and running game was improved from the first game but is still not performing like it should be or needs to be if this team is going to win eight or more games this season.
However, unlike last week, the defense played inadequately on the whole. How could Stephen Garcia pass for 313 yards and rush for an additional 42 (led Gamecocks) against the same Bulldog defense from last week? Instead, our defense from last night appeared more reminiscent of last year's edition.
Speaking of which, Georgia yielded 35 or more points once again for the ninth time in 42 games since the 2006 Sugar Bowl and for the sixth time in 11 games since last season's Alabama game. Alarming! As I've posted before, prior to the '06 Sugar Bowl, the Bulldogs went 77 games and more than six years without allowing 35 points or more.
Notwithstanding, the defense did stiffen when the Gamecocks reached its 20-yard line or closer. South Carolina's offense entered Georgia's red zone seven times, resulting in scores on six occasions (two TDs, four field goals). However, the 'Cocks ran 22 plays in the red zone for only a net total of 36 total yards. The one red-zone drive not ending in points for the Gamecocks: the final and most important, resulting in a loss of downs and Bulldog victory.
Immediately following the 41-37 win, I personally felt similar to how I did following the close victories over both Kentucky and Auburn a year ago: Georgia was the better team, the game should not have been as close as it was; however, the Dogs were fortunate to be on the winning side and a win is a win.
  • Georgia broke its single-game record for most kick-return yards BY HALFTIME. The Bulldogs' 252 yards on kick returns easily eclipsed the old mark of 190 vs. Kentucky in 1977 and is the fourth most in SEC history. Before last night, Georgia's top three games in its history in terms of kick-return yardage, 1977- Kentucky (190), 1990- Georgia Tech (186), 1990- Kentucky (179), all came in losses suffered by the Bulldogs.
  • Brandon Boykin's 100-yard kick return in the first quarter was a school record and tied the school's "modern" record (since the 1940s) for a return of any type. In 1903 against Auburn, Georgia's Harry Woodruff, older brother of eventual standout UGA player and coach George Woodruff, returned a missed dropkick (i.e., field goal) 107 yards for a touchdown. From 1876 to 1912, the standard football field was 110 yards in length.
  • Garcia's 53 pass attempts were the most by an individual against Georgia since Jared Lorenzen's (Kentucky) 54 in 2001; his 313 passing yards were the most since 339 yards thrown by Florida's Rex Grossman in 2002.
  • South Carolina's Spencer Lanning kicked five field goals--only the 18th time in SEC history and first against Georgia an individual kicked five or more field goals in a single game.
  • Besides Rennie Curran's game-winning, tipped pass, perhaps the biggest play was the blocked PAT by sophomore DeAngelo Tyson, preserving the Bulldogs' one-point lead in the final quarter. Since Georgia began keeping record of blocked PATs in 1982, Tyson is only the seventh Bulldog to block just 10 extra points and the first in 67 games since the 2003 SEC Championship Game.

September 10, 2009

A Look Back: South Carolina


OCTOBER 20, 1900: GEORGIA 5, SOUTH CAROLINA 0 (Athens)

I detail the 1900 Georgia-South Carolina game in my book The 50 Greatest Plays in Georgia Bulldogs Football History (the part on Marvin Dickinson below is directly from the book) and one play, or more like a moment, in particular. For it was an impulsive reaction by South Carolina's captain that literally took points off the scoreboard and likely changed the game's end result.

THE RULES: To give you an idea how college football has changed in more than 100 years, here are some of the rules that were in place for the sport in 1900:
  • The ball was a "prolate speheroid" without specific measurements.
  • The field was 110 yards long.
  • Touchdowns were worth five points.
  • Five yards were needed to gain a first down.
  • No forward passing was permitted.
  • On a kickoff following a team scoring, it was the team who scored receiving the kickoff not the team scored upon.

THE SEASON: In only in its ninth season of playing football guided by already its seventh head coach, E. E. Jones, the 1900 Georgia squad (photo from Hargrett Rare Book & Manuscript Library/University of Georgia Libraries) opened the season with an "easy" 12-0 victory over Georgia Tech. Georgia halfback and team captain Frank McCutcheon scored both Red and Black touchdowns on rushes.

South Carolina entered the game at Georgia's Herty Field with just a 6-15 all-time record in the school's seven-season football history. However, Coach I.O. Hunt's squad was thought to be much improved in 1900 and entered its season opener led by halfback and captain Ted Bell.

THE LINEUP (Georgia):

LE: Frank Ridley

LT: Marion Monk

LG: Harold Hirsch

C: Richard Terry

RG: I.M. Putnam

RT: Hugh Gordon

RE: Julian Baxter

QB: Cam Dorsey

LHB: Marvin Dickinson

RHB: Frank McCutcheon

FB: Samuel Hewlette

MARVIN DICKINSON: After transferring from Mercer, Marvin Dickinson made an immediate impact at halfback for Georgia. In 1900, he starred in the Red and Black’s 5-0 win over South Carolina and a season later scored Georgia’s only points in a 16-6 loss to Davidson with a touchdown (worth five points) and a successful point after. His rushing was the highlight in an upset, scoreless tie against Auburn.
In 1902, Dickinson’s plunge accounted for the only points in a 5-0 victory over Alabama. He also scored a touchdown and converted two extra points in Georgia’s 27-0 victory over Davidson.
Dickinson was expected to play again in 1903 but was instead appointed Georgia’s new head coach. Billy Reynolds, the Red and Black’s previous coach, had suddenly resigned. Only one veteran returned from the ’02 squad and Georgia struggled to a 3-4 record. After playing professional baseball in 1904, Dickinson returned to UGA in 1905. Again, the Red and Black returned only one veteran from the previous season and Georgia won only one of six games that year. Following a 29-0 loss to Auburn, Dickinson told a reporter he was tired of football and never coached again.
THE GAME: In the first half, following a fumble recovered by Georgia's Richard Terry, the Red and Black drove 48 yards on 11 rushes and a 10-yard offsides penalty committed by the visitor. The final play of the drive was a Samuel Hewlette scoring run halfway through the half; however, Hugh Gordon missed the PAT and Georgia led 5-0.
Late in the period, South Carolina was awarded the ball on Georgia's 15-yard line. Carolina's Fred Ruehr rushed to a first down inside the Red and Black's one-yard line. Following two plays of no gain, on third down, South Carolina finally scored; however, prior to the third attempt, Referee Rowbotham whistled the first half had ended, negating the Carolina touchdown. Captain Bell was furious, kicking the ground and threatening to take his team off the field.
To open the second half, South Carolina, starting from its own 20-yard line, drove 90 yards on 20 rushes to a short scoring run by Bell. Hogan Yancey missed the PAT and the score was deadlocked at 5-5.
Towards the end of the game, both teams combined to lose four fumbles, two each, in a span of only five plays. Following the final loose ball, Georgia held possession at Carolina's five-yard line with four minutes left to play. Suddenly, Carolina's Bell began to dispute another of Rowbotham's calls--the last fumble given to Georgia. In protest of the fumbled ball coupled with the disputed call prior to the first half ending, Bell called his team off the field and South Carolina left in disgust. Rowbotham and Umpire Thornton had no choice and awarded Georgia a 5-0 forfeited victory.
It would be Georgia's final victory the season; the Red and Black dropped their final four games by a combined 159-11 score to finish the 1900 campaign with a 2-4 mark.

CAPTAIN BELL TAKING HIS TEAM OFF THE FIELD:

  • "It is to be regretted that so well fought a game should end in such an unsatisfactory manner."--The Red and Black
  • "[Leaving the field] could be nothing but babyishness, pure and simple, and the crowd let the boys know as [South Carolina] left the field."--The Athens Banner
  • "Bell ... said that his team had been robbed once too often and told the officials they could give the game to Georgia."--John Stegeman, "The Ghosts of Herty Field"
  • "[Bell's] statement that Mr. Rowbotham's decisions were 'partial' towards Georgia reminds us of the callow youths who made similar charges against the 'teacher,' in our grammar-school-days."--The Red and Black

September 8, 2009

He Turned Lemons Into Lemonade


Three years ago today, the University of Georgia football program lost one of its greatest Bulldogs of all time. Erskine “Erk” Russell was Georgia’s defensive coordinator for 17 seasons and, during this time, became one of the most highly-regarded and renowned assistant coaches in the game. In the late 1970s, I actually met Erk once, sort of, when I was just a few years old. His wife was a friend of my mother’s and the Russells were invited to our house for dinner. Even today, my father often reminds me how lucky I was to sit in the lap of the great Coach Russell.

While in college, Russell earned 10 letters at Auburn University and still remains the school’s last four-sport letterman. Following a few coaching positions, Erk arrived with new head coach Vince Dooley at Georgia in 1964 to coordinate the Bulldogs’ defense. The Georgia football program needed to be revitalized as it had suffered seven losing seasons the previous nine years. Through the 1980 season with Russell as a major contributor, UGA football was turned into one of the better programs in the country. Erk then went off on his own to small, Division III Georgia Southern College where he helped elevate a second football program to national prominence.

In the 17 seasons and 192 games while at Georgia, Erk’s defenses held more than 43 percent of the opposition to 10 points or less, including 26 shutouts. The Bulldogs also finished in the nation’s top 10 in scoring defense in five seasons. Russell’s defenses were normally not all that physically talented but were extremely emotional and aggressive. His “Junkyard Dogs” defensive unit of 1975 and “Runts” of 1976 were small in stature but gritty and determined and strained their full potential to help Georgia win 19 of 22 regular-season games.

Foremost, Erk was a master at communicating with and motivating his players. He devised Georgia’s big “TEAM” little “me” t-shirts, proclaiming the team is always bigger and more important than an individual player. His shaven, bald head was often bleeding, since he frequently rammed it against the helmets of players during pre-game drills to motivate them for the game at hand. Russell was “like an institution,” according to ABC-TV color analyst Lee Grosscup in 1981. “I kind of miss him along the sidelines with that bald head of his that was always bloodied.”

His last game at Georgia was a 17-10 win over Notre Dame in the 1981 Sugar Bowl for the national championship. In the spring of 1981, he accepted the head coaching position at Georgia Southern College (later Georgia Southern University) in Statesboro. With it he acquired an inactive football program that had not fielded a team since 1941. Erk had left the Bulldogs to pursue and tackle a much bigger challenge.

Although Georgia Southern’s exhibition season opener of 1981 was not until mid-November, while asked to attend, Erk thought it would be better if he did not make an appearance at Georgia’s first game versus Tennessee in Athens. The bald Russell was tempted, however, and joked he might go to the game in disguise if he “could wear a toupee.”

As the Bulldogs began the 1981 season by allowing only 225 yards per game and three touchdowns through the first five contests, Georgia’s defense seemed as dominant as it had while under the guidance of Erk. A newspaper reported that although Russell was physically absent from the Dogs, he surely had a “vicarious presence” with the ’81 defense. New defensive coordinator Bill Lewis was speaking almost weekly to Russell and asking his advice. “He’s a true authority on our defense,” said Lewis. “As far as I’m concerned, he wrote the book on the Split 60 defense (Georgia’s defensive formation).”

Head coach Erk Russell’s first game in 1981 was against Florida State’s junior varsity. Since it was a lower division football program, Georgia Southern could not grant football scholarships. Florida State’s JV, on the other hand, had several scholarship players. Erk’s squad surprisingly led late in the game until Florida State scored two touchdowns in the final 90 seconds to win, 30-20. After the loss, Russell was not satisfied with the moral victory and declared, “I hope our people don’t ever feel good about losing.”

While Erk coached Georgia Southern, the “people” likely never felt good about losing because they rarely had to endure defeat. The Eagles moved to Division II in 1983 and then onto Division I-AA the following season. In only its fourth season of football after four decades of being dormant, Georgia Southern won the national title in 1985. For an encore to the championship season, Erk’s Eagles won their second consecutive national championship in 1986. Following a 9-4 campaign in 1987, Georgia Southern won 12 games in 1988 and made another appearance in the national title game, losing to Furman. In Erk Russell’s final year in 1989, the Eagles recorded a perfect 15-0 record, including a defeat of Stephen F. Austin 37-34 for a third national championship in only five seasons. Four days following the title win, Erk decided to retire at the age of 63.

In just eight seasons as Georgia Southern’s head coach, Russell compiled an 83-22-1 (.788) overall record and made four trips to the Division I-AA national title game in his final five seasons, winning three. Most significantly, he took a once lifeless football program and built it into excellence, an achievement similar to what Erk assisted with at Georgia a quarter-century prior to his retirement in 1989.

On September 8, 2006, Erk Russell passed away in Statesboro at the age of 80. A day later, in honor of Russell, Georgia players wore a black “ERK” decal on the back of their helmets against South Carolina in Columbia. Georgia paid a fitting tribute to Russell by shutting out the Gamecocks 18-0, reminiscent of Erk’s “Junkyard Dogs” of three decades before. It was Georgia’s first shutout over a conference opponent on the road since 1980, Erk’s final season at the University of Georgia.

It was in 1980 when a newspaper article mentioned Erk had the following motto on his office’s bulletin board—one certainly suited for the coach and likely had been posted for years: “If life deals you lemons, turn it into lemonade.” I like to think I’ll get to see Coach Russell again in person one day. If so, I’d asked if he is aware of the great number of football fans astonished how he often turned hindered and undersized players into over-achieving, spirited, and determined all-stars. Understanding what I know about Erk Russell, he would probably respond with one of his acclaimed quips, like “I’d rather be lucky than good.” R.I.P., ERK.

Part of this article is a revised feature from my book About Them Dawgs! (Scarecrow Press—2008). It will also be included in the September issue of The College Football Historian. For information on receiving your FREE monthly copy of this newsletter, contact Tex Noel, Executive Director of the Intercollegiate Football Researchers Association, at statwhiz@hotmail.com.

September 6, 2009

Off to A Slow Start...

Oklahoma State 24, GEORGIA 10
My initial reactions from yesterday's two-touchdown loss in Stillwater (photo by Kelly Lambert of Online Athens): Georgia is going to miss Matthew Stafford much more than I anticipated and am I allowed to change my prediction of the Bulldogs' final record from 9-3 to 7-5 or even 6-6?
If you were to inform me before the game Georgia would hold OSU's high-powered offense to 24 points and 307 total yards, I'd tell you the Bulldogs would win their 13th consecutive season opener. Georgia drove 80 yards in 10 plays to a touchdown on the game's first possession, the Cowboys were then forced to punt, and another victory in a season-opening contest, at the time, seemed like a great possibility. However, the Bulldogs' offense would sputter, gaining only 182 yards and scoring just three points the rest of the game.
A Georgia loss in a season opener is a rarity. The Bulldogs had not opened the year up with a loss since 1996 (Jim Donnan's first team) and had suffered only 24 total in 115 seasons of Georgia football. Coach Richt's squads had especially performed well in season-opening games, that is, until yesterday.
One can point to a variety of reasons for the defeat, including breakdowns in special teams play. In addition, Joe Cox and the offensive line were sub-par against what was thought to be a be an average defense which allowed 406 yards and 28 points per game a year ago. Nonetheless, the Bulldogs' main issue yesterday was the very same one that plagued them in 2008: the defense's inability to force turnovers.
After a season of gaining just 16 turnovers, Georgia's lowest amount in its history, in 13 games, the Dogs forced none against Oklahoma State. Meanwhile, our offense committed three turnovers, including two critical fumbles--both leading to Cowboy scores. The difference in this season from last, however, is in 2008 Georgia had a tremendous offense that could reconcile for its defense's inefficiencies. This season, from what we've seen thus far, the offense is far from tremendous.
This Saturday Georgia's offense will face a very good defense--one seemingly better than Oklahoma State's. To make matters worse, the Bulldog offense has struggled mightily against South Carolina in recent years. Since 2000 and having primarily productive offenses, Georgia has averaged just 317 total yards per game and scored a total of only 10 offensive touchdowns in the nine meetings against the Gamecocks. It appears this Saturday's game could certainly be another Georgia-South Carolina defensive standoff. Regardless, defensive struggle or not, hopefully Georgia's defenders can finally force some turnovers and help earn the Bulldogs their first win of 2009.

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.