My 10 favorite moments from Georgia vs. Alabama
Bama and UGA square off this weekend in what should again be a fun and exciting game between national powerhouses. And, when I say “fun” and “exciting,” I mean for fans of other teams, not these two. Because as any Bama or UGA fan will tell you, these games are a lot less “fun” and way more “60-minute football induced panic attack.”
Regardless, I feel like I’m the perfect person to guide you on this trip down memory lane. Not to sound too white trashy, but my first (not current) stepdad had season tickets to UGA, and my Dad had season tickets to Bama. So, thanks to the miracle of divorce I have been immersed into this rivalry from both sides and can attest that it is one of the absolute best in all of college football.
Here are my 10 favorite moments of the Bama/UGA rivalry.
1965 The Hook & Ladder
The first game of the year for both teams was a memorable one that is still shown on the pregame highlight reel in Sanford Stadium. Trailing 17-10 in the final minutes, UGA ran a hook and ladder to Pat Hodgson (who was on the ground with both knees down), who then pitched back to Bob Taylor. Taylor scored to make it 17-16. In front of a national audience on ABC, a young Vince Dooley went for 2 and the win. He got both, and the Dawgs knocked off the eventual national champions 18-17.
1985 Mike Shula’s Best Moment
In a series full of dramatic endings, this one is right up there with the best of them. Trailing 13-9 with 1:04 remaining, UGA blocked a punt and recovered it for a TD. With no timeouts remaining, and less than a minute on the clock, Bama QB Mike Shula led Alabama on a 72-yard game-winning drive, capped with a TD to WR Al Bell. It would turn out to be Shula’s only memorable moment vs UGA, as he was 0-2 against them as a head coach.
2002 Billy Bennett breaks my heart
On an unseasonably hot October day in Tuscaloosa, UGA was out to prove to Pat Dye, and everyone else, that they were “man enough.” UGA dominated Bama for most of the 1st half, but a Charlie Peprah pick-6 late in the 4th quarter helped the Tide take a 25-24 lead. QB David Greene led UGA right back down the field to set up a game-winning field goal. UGA kicker Billy Bennett nailed a 32-yarder with 38 seconds to go, and the Dawgs won 27-25 as a young Chris Marler sat in pain amidst a sea of UGA fans because my Dad bought my friend and I tickets in the UGA section for some unknown reason.
1994 The comeback I never saw
Continuing the theme of UGA always playing well in Tuscaloosa, the Dawgs led Bama 21-10 at the half and 29-18 going into the 4th quarter behind an incredible day from QB Eric Zeier. I remember this game vividly because as an 8-year-old I pitched a fit when my Mom turned the game off to watch a rerun of Star Trek the next generation because “the game was over.”
Little did my Mom know that Jay Barker would lead Bama on an incredible comeback. Despite a Tide offense that averaged only 116 passing yards per game, Barker threw for 396 yards. Barker led the Tide on a drive late in the 4th quarter setting up a game-winning field goal. Shockingly enough, Alabama had an All-American kicker (let that sink in), Michael Proctor, who hit a 32-yard field goal to give Bama a 29-28 victory. Zeier was furious, and so was 8-year-old me since I didn’t get to watch it.
2007 Stafford to Mikey Henderson
People tend to forget that the current narrative of UGA heartbreak at the hands of Alabama used to be the exact opposite. This game is a perfect example.
Fresh off a thrilling last-minute victory vs. Arkansas, Alabama came into this game 3-0 and ranked No. 16 under 1st-year head coach Nick Saban. Trailing 20-10 in the 4th quarter, Bama scored a game-tying TD on a John Parker Wilson scramble with 1:09 left. As many remember, the game went to OT, but only because UGA (not Bama) missed a 48-yard field goal as time expired.
I was sitting in the student section when Georgia missed it, and I thought the place was going to explode and that we would all live forever. I was wrong. That elation quickly turned to devastation in overtime. Trailing 26-23, Matthew Stafford dropped back on the first play of the UGA possession and threw an absolute dime to Mikey Henderson for the game-winning touchdown.
2007 vs. Alabama
— UGA Rewind (@UGARewind) October 12, 2020
2008 Blackout in Athens
The following year’s game between Bama and UGA was not an instant classic (at least not for UGA fans), but it still makes the list. To set the scene this game had: a top 10 matchup, College GameDay on campus, and Mark Richt announced earlier that week that UGA would be wearing their infamous black jerseys for a blackout in Sanford Stadium. Then Bama assistant Scott Cochran went on to say after, “They’re wearing black because they’re headed to a m- f- funeral.” And, he was right.
Bama dominated from the start. They led 31-0 by halftime and won 41-30. UGA didn’t wear those jerseys for quite a while (a decision I hated because they were still awesome no matter what happened that day). Despite being somewhat of a blowout, this game still makes the list because it’s the game that turned the Tide’s program around the proverbial corner under Saban, and they haven’t looked back since.
— WVUA-FM Sports (@wvuafmsports) August 12, 2016
2003 UGA breaks Bama
I was going to include the 1990 comeback for UGA here instead, but this is my gift to UGA fans. I know how insufferable Bama fans are, and even though I am one, I can admit they are the worst in the country. So, let’s talk about the 2003 game where UGA broke Bama … literally. UGA blew out Bama 37-23, and held the Tide to just 209 yards of offense. What I remember most about that game was UGA’s defense.
Bama had to start backup QB Spencer Pennington because Brodie Croyle separated his shoulder the week before. Sometime in the 1st half, Thomas Davis drilled Pennington and separated his shoulder. So, Bama brought in Croyle despite being injured, and Greg Blue hit him so hard that he re-separated his shoulder.
By the end of the game, 3rd-string freshman Brandon Avalos was in at QB, and I will never forget him having to run to the sideline after every play to get the play call because neither of Bama’s other QBs could lift their arms to signal in the plays.
2012 SEC Championship Game
The ultimate “what might have been game” took place in Atlanta on a crisp December afternoon in 2012. No. 2 Bama faced No. 3 UGA in a de facto play-in game for the National Championship in Miami. I can tell you that a very arrogant Alabama fan base came into the game with little doubt that Bama would win, but they were sorely mistaken.
After trading blows for most of the game, UGA LB Alec Ogletree returned a blocked field goal for a TD giving UGA a 21-10 lead with just over 20 minutes to play. The game took a turn on the next drive, as Bama committed to running the damn ball and ran the ball down Georgia, and Todd Grantham’s, throats the rest of the game. A defense that featured 9 players who went to the NFL the following year, gave up 352 yards on the ground as Eddie Lacy and TJ Yeldon led Bama on a comeback to take the lead.
The heavyweights traded punches, as UGA regained the lead after a Todd Gurley TD. After a huge conversion on 3rd-and-5, AJ McCarron dropped back and hit Amari Cooper for a 45-yard touchdown for a 31-28 lead with 3:185left, and Bama fans took a huge sigh of relief.
Then all hell broke loose on a final drive that featured an overturned INT, an air raid to TE Arthur Lynch, and one incredibly memorable ending. For the 3rd time on the drive, Murray found Lynch, and the 26-yard completion put UGA down on the Bama 8-yard line with 8 seconds remaining.
With no timeouts, everyone in the country assumed Mark Richt would spike the ball. He did not. Murray’s pass to Chris Conley was tipped, and Conley fell down in bounds as time expired. Either team would have beaten Notre Dame like a drum in the national title game, but only Bama got the chance because of the victory.
2018 SEC Championship Game
Goodness, what a game. Bama came in 12-0, the Heisman Trophy all but locked up, and what some considered the greatest team of all time. That did not age well. For the 2nd consecutive time facing his former boss, Kirby Smart held a 2-score lead over Nick Saban. The Dawgs led by 14 in the 2nd half behind a stout defense and the best game of Jake Fromm’s career. Up 28-21 in the 4th quarter, Tua Tagovailoa went to the tent (again), and backup QB Jalen Hurts came in on the same field that he was benched for Tua on just 11 months prior.
Hurts was simply magical. He marched Bama down the field for the game-tying TD, and after an inexplicable fake punt call on 4th-and-11 from Kirby Smart, Bama took over at midfield and Hurts went to work. With 1:09 left, on the UGA 16-yard line, Hurts ran a QB draw to perfection and scored the game-winning touchdown to give Bama the 35-28 victory.
There have been a lot of incredible comebacks and great wins in this series, but this one was different. So much so that Nick Saban actually cried when talking about his QB in the postgame press conference.
2nd & 26
It’s been a lot of fun looking back at these games while writing this, and this is clearly the most memorable moment in Bama/UGA series history. However, we are going to spend the least amount of time on it. As someone who lived through the Kick-6 and hates seeing it over and over again, I get it. And, I have too much respect for UGA fans to make them endure another long, graphic recanting of that game. So here it goes …
UGA came in off a win in the greatest Rose Bowl of all time, and absolutely suffocated Bama on defense for the 1st half. Then Saban put in Tua. The freshman, Hawaiian godsend threw 3 TDs in the 2nd half and led the Tide on a miraculous comeback. Bama attempted a game-winning field goal at the end of regulation, but the kick looked about like Dr. Fauci’s first pitch.
Dr. Fauci throws out the first pitch for Opening Day between the New York Yankees and Washington Nationals. pic.twitter.com/khFraDAlX3
— Alex Salvi (@alexsalvinews) July 23, 2020
The game went to overtime, and we all know what happened next.
Guess what day it is?! Tua and 26, Tua to Smitty, or better known as 2nd & 26. pic.twitter.com/E0lF9Iy2AY
— Touchdown Alabama (@TDAlabamaMag) February 26, 2020