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July 2, 2009

Bulldogs in the "Big House" in 2010?

Quarterback Preston Ridlehuber (with ball against Texas Tech in the '64 Sun Bowl) led the Bulldogs to victory the last time Georgia met Michigan.

Yesterday rumors ran rampant that Georgia might face Michigan in Ann Arbor in 2010 and in Athens in 2011. Apparently, the rumor was started by the University of Michigan's campus newspaper--The Michigan Daily. However, by the end of the day, the report appeared to be merely gossip and highly unlikely. As several articles and blogs point out, Georgia has only five home games currently scheduled for 2010 and looking to add a sixth. Scheduling an away date with Michigan would force the Bulldogs to change a road game to one at home. This would likely mean cancelling Georgia's game against Colorado in Boulder or moving it to another season. These scenarios would probably force Georgia to buy Colorado out--an inconceivable possibility. Amidst the Georgia-Michigan rumors, I was reminded of one of the biggest and most surprising wins in the Vince Dooley era--the Bulldogs' 15-7 victory in Ann Arbor in 1965.
Eight years earlier in 1957, a young Bulldog squad coached by Wally Butts traveled to Michigan's "Big House" for the first time ever and were thumped by the tenth-ranked Wolverines, 26-0. Five lost fumbles, three interceptions thrown by Charley Britt, and 110 yards in penalties resulted in Georgia being shut out while not reaching beyond Michigan's 21-yard line.
Dooley's second Bulldog team of 1965, ranked 10th in the nation and just two weeks removed from their "flea-flicker" win over eventual national champion Alabama, played Michigan for Georgia's second and final time, to date. Whereas the matchup in 1957 attracted 85,002 spectators, less than 60,000 fans witnessed the '65 game in a stadium which held a whopping 103,219 even then. It was speculated Michigan fans wanted to skip watching their Wolverines play a much inferior and undersized Georgia team and rest up for the following Saturday--a home game against rival Michigan State.
The Bulldogs improved their record to 3-0 (first time in 12 years) and ranking to #4 (highest in AP Poll since final rankings of 1946) with their shocking, eight-point win over Michigan. They were led by Bob Etter's three field goals and Preston Ridlehuber, who split time at quarterback with Kirby Moore. Ridlehuber rushed for 61 yards, including a spectacular 23-yarder which directly led to Georgia's lone touchdown. The touchdown, Ridlehuber's first of only two career collegiate touchdown passes, was a 10-yard toss to Pat Hodgson in the final quarter. It was not only the last time the Bulldogs faced the Wolverines but also the last time they journeyed north of Lexington, Kentucky, to play a game.
In my opinion, a two-game series with Michigan in 2010 and 2011 would be desired by most Georgia fans. Many Bulldog backers have complained for years how the team does not schedule games against big-time, nationally-renowned opponents. Unfortunately, other than a bowl matchup, it appears a small miracle would have to occur for a Georgia-Michigan contest to take place in the near future. Of course, once in a while a miracle does come to pass...

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