Even though the 2017 season ended in heartbreak for the Georgia Bulldogs, it was a year that will be remembered for a long time in Athens.
In only coach Kirby Smart’s second year at the helm, the Dawgs went 13-2, winning their first SEC title since 2005 and defeating Oklahoma in a double-overtime Rose Bowl thriller before losing in overtime to Alabama in the National Championship Game.
Smart is building something special in Athens, and this is likely only a stepping stone on the road to bigger and better things.
However, this season shouldn’t be tossed aside if the Bulldogs do win a national title in the coming years.
Here are 10 moments worth remembering from the 2017 season:
1. Sony Michel’s double-OT Rose Bowl run
When you think of Georgia’s 2017 season, you have to first think of the incredible double-overtime Rose Bowl win over Oklahoma.
The game-clinching play was one of the greatest moments in Georgia history, as Sony Michel took a snap in the “Wild Dawg” formation and ran 27 yards for the game-winning touchdown:
— Casey Baker (@CaseyBake16) January 2, 2018
Michel had an incredible Rose Bowl performance, rushing for 181 yards on only 11 carries — good for a 16.5-yard average. He also scored four touchdowns, three of which came on runs of 25 yards or more.
No, the Dawgs didn’t win the National Championship Game, but the Rose Bowl victory will be remembered for a long time.
2. Terry Godwin’s catch vs. Notre Dame
In Jake Fromm’s first start at quarterback, he faced the unenviable task of going up against Notre Dame on the road.
WR Terry Godwin made sure Fromm’s debut as a starter was special, making the catch of the year in what ended up being a 20-19 Georgia victory:
Best play I saw this season, and this was my view –> pic.twitter.com/MkrPXiuxOa
— Matt Randall (@mattrandall_) December 2, 2017
That was incredible concentration and body control from Godwin, and without that win, the Dawgs probably wouldn’t have made it to the College Football Playoff.
3. Blowout on Rocky Top
Last year, Tennessee came to Athens and beat the Dawgs on a memorable last-second Hail Mary from QB Josh Dobbs to WR Jauan Jennings.
That was a devastating loss, but the Bulldogs more than got even this year, going into Neyland Stadium and handing the Vols a 41-0 loss — their most lopsided home defeat since 1905.
It wasn’t as dramatic as the Hail Mary, but it was every bit as satisfying to shut out a major SEC East rival.
4. Georgia’s flea-flicker to start Mississippi State game
The Notre Dame catch certainly wasn’t the only big play Godwin made this year, as he had another great catch two weeks later against Mississippi State.
The other Bulldogs were riding high coming into the Week 4 matchup, but Georgia set the tone early with this impressive flea flicker on their first offensive play:
Well … that was quick. pic.twitter.com/u2hgFCCf65
— ESPN CollegeFootball (@ESPNCFB) September 23, 2017
The Dawgs went on to win 31-3 and put a serious damper on Mississippi State’s season, and it was thanks in large part to the aggressive play call to start the evening.
5. D’Andre Swift’s spin move vs. Samford
This play wasn’t very important in the grand scheme, but when D’Andre Swift broke out a nifty spin move to score an 11-yard touchdown against Samford, it gave a glimpse into the Bulldogs’ promising future:
— Barstool UGA (@ugabarstool) September 17, 2017
That was Swift’s first college touchdown, but it wouldn’t be his last, as he played a bigger role as the season wore on.
With Nick Chubb and Sony Michel moving on, Swift will be the guy next year, and he looks like he’s up to the task.
6. Nick Chubb moving to No. 2 on SEC all-time rushing list
Chubb has been one of college football’s best running backs for his entire career, and during the SEC Championship Game, he passed Darren McFadden to move into second place on the SEC’s all-time rushing list:
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) December 3, 2017
Now, Georgia legend Herschel Walker is the only player ahead of Chubb on the rushing list (by a wide margin).
Chubb has meant so much to the Georgia program the past four years, so it’s great to see him leaving school as one of the best running backs ever to step foot on an SEC field.
7. Snapping Florida’s 3-game rivalry winning streak
For the previous three seasons, The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party was all Florida, as the Gators have picked up some lopsided wins over the Bulldogs.
This year, though, Georgia flipped the script, rolling into Jacksonville and cruising to a 42-7 victory. Michel had another huge effort, running for 137 yards and two scores on only six carries.
Though the Gators will likely improve this offseason under new head coach Dan Mullen, this rivalry looks like it’ll belong to the Dawgs for the near future.
8. U-G-A at Wrigley Field
When the Bulldogs headed north to South Bend to take on Notre Dame, they made sure to stop by another iconic venue, taking in a Chicago Cubs’ game at Wrigley Field.
Legendary coach Vince Dooley threw out the first pitch.
And, as you can see in the video below, they made their presence heard (as they would do in South Bend, too), chanting “U-G-A!” during the game:
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) September 9, 2017
It was a great weekend for Georgia fans, and this moment set the tone for how well Bulldog supporters would travel to support their team all year.
9. Hot Rod’s 55-yard Rose Bowl field goal
With the Bulldogs trailing 31-14 just before halftime of the Rose Bowl, the Sooners made the interesting decision to try a short kickoff, which a Georgia player fell on.
One play later, Rodrigo Blankenship was set up for a long field goal. And, as you can see below, he drilled it:
— Desmond Watkins (@TheDesWatkins) January 1, 2018
The 55-yard kick was a Rose Bowl record and was a huge momentum shifter for the Dawgs, who desperately needed the boost.
10. The Early Signing Period
This year, college football players were able to sign for three days in December instead of having to wait until February.
That proved to be beneficial for the Bulldogs. Even as they were preparing for the Rose Bowl, Smart and his staff managed to sign the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class so far.
The Dawgs have the nation’s No. 2 overall player in dual-threat QB Justin Fields and have landed six 5-star players and 12 4-star athletes. That’s how you ensure success into the future, and Smart continues to build a juggernaut in Athens.