Which five Georgia teams since 1980 came closest to winning a national championship, but didn’t? Here are the five teams that almost pulled it off.
Daily Five: 5 Georgia Teams Since 1980 That Almost Won It All
What demons are Georgia trying to exorcise tonight against Alabama? Just 37 years of frustration. That’s all.
The 1980 Georgia team that won it all had a magical year. It was the rise of Herschel Walker, it was “run, Lindsay, run” to beat Florida, and it was when the program finally looked like it was going to be a perennial national title superpower. Now, it can finally get over the hump with a win tonight over Alabama.
Here are the five Georgia teams since 1980 that came the closest to winning a national title.
It would’ve been an interesting debate at the end of the 1981 college football season had a few things gone the other way.
Remember, this was the old Bowl ‘n’ Poll era, which put a premium on winning games late, while diminishing the sting of early losses.
Georgia lost to Clemson 13-3 in the middle of September, but rolled from then on to get up to No. 2 in the AP rankings before the bowls – behind 11-0 and No. 1 Clemson.
Had Clemson lost in the Orange Bowl to Nebraska, and had some Dan Marino guy not connected with John Brown on a 33-yard touchdown pass in the final moments of Pitt’s 24-20 win over Georgia in the Sugar, the voters probably give the Dawgs the title – or, at least a share of it between the Coaches polls.
Five points. That’s it.
The Tennessee-Georgia rivalry kicked in with a with a 34-31 Vol win in the final moments, with the game-winning drive kept alive when Heath Shuler connected on a fourth down pass. That hurt, but losing to Steve Spurrier and Florida 26-24 – back when it was the Cocktail Party – stung even more.
Georgia went on to take down Ohio State in the Citrus Bowl.
It took a lot to keep the 2002 Georgia team out of the BCS Championship.
Ohio State came up with thrilling win after thrilling win to go 13-0. One Buckeye loss along the way, and Georgia – who finished third in the in the final rankings – would’ve had that No. 2 spot to deal with the Canes in the Fiesta.
A 20-13 loss to Florida was the lone blemish for a team that went on to tag Florida State in the Sugar.
Georgia managed to get within range of beating Alabama in the 2012 SEC Championship, but down 32-28 in the final seconds, Aaron Murray’s pass fell into the hands of Chris Conley, who was tackles on the five as the clock ran out.
Despite a 35-7 loss to South Carolina along the way, Georgia would’ve gone to the Orange Bowl with a win over the Tide.
Alabama went on to throttle Notre Dame in the BCS Championship – the Dawgs would’ve taken that Irish team down, too – while Georgia went on to roll Nebraska in The Capital One Bowl.
The 1980 team was terrific, and the 1981 team came close, but the 1982 squad grew into something special. It set the tone from the start with a huge 13-7 win over a fabulous Clemson team, and dominated Florida 44-0, but it wasn’t until November that it rose up into the top spot.
As the only unbeaten and untied team left, it was the easy No. 1 team at 11-0 going into the Sugar Bowl vs. Penn State.
Pann State had lost to Alabama along the way, but it managed to get back up to No. 2, creating a true national championship matchup in New Orleans.
Herschel Walker was held in check, but the Dawgs still almost pulled it off in a 27-23 loss. Georgia finished fourth.