10 Greatest Georgia Football Teams of All Time

From Pop Warner to Herschel Walker, the Bulldogs have a rich history

The college football world will be focused on Georgia and Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl Game/College Football Semifinal on New Year’s Day. The Bulldogs have put together one of the best seasons in the school’s history, winning the SEC title and putting themselves in position to take home the national championship.

 

Given this success, the 2017 Bulldogs will be one of the 10 greatest teams in the program’s history. It’s now just a matter of how high they will be ranked on this list based on their performance in the playoff.

 

10. 1896

Record: 4-0

Finished: Beat Auburn 12-6 to finish the regular season

Final Ranking: N/A

Glenn “Pop” Warner’s first coaching stint was at Georgia and in his second and last season there, he led the Bulldogs to an undefeated regular season that included wins over North Carolina and Auburn. Warner, who had been splitting his time between Georgia and Iowa State, left for Ames to be the Cyclones' full-time head coach after the season.

 

9. 2012

Record: 12-2

Finished: Beat Nebraska 45-31 in the Capital One Bowl

Final Ranking: No. 5

After losing 35-7 at South Carolina in the first half of the season, Georgia won six straight games. Then in arguably the greatest conference championship game ever played, the Bulldogs lost to Alabama 32-28 in a contest that ended with Georgia on the Crimson Tide’s 5-yard line. Since Alabama then trounced Notre Dame in the BCS title game, many fans considered the Crimson Tide/Bulldogs matchup to be the true national championship.

 

8. 1959

Record: 10-1

Finished: Beat Missouri 14-0 in the Orange Bowl

Final Ranking: No. 5

Picked to finish ninth in the SEC going into the season, the Fran Tarkenton-led Bulldogs beat out three top-10 teams to take home the school’s first conference championship since 1948. Georgia clinched the SEC title with a last-minute pass from Tarkenton to Bill Herron to beat Auburn 14-13.

 

7. 2002

Record: 13-1

Finished: Beat Florida State 26-13 in the Sugar Bowl

Final Ranking: No. 3

Second-year head coach Mark Richt announced his arrival by leading the program to its first conference title since 1982. Only a misstep against archrival Florida kept this team from having a perfect season.

 

6. 1920

Record: 8-0-1

Finished: Beat Clemson 55-0

Final Ranking: No. 1 (Retroactively named national champion by Berryman Quality Point Rating System)

The Bulldogs allowed only 17 points during the season and their only blemish was a 0-0 tie with Virginia in Charlottesville. Because of its dominance during season, Georgia was retroactively awarded the national championship by the Berryman Quality Point Rating System, but does not claim this title.

 

5. 1966

Record: 10-1

Finished: Beat SMU 24-9 in the Cotton Bowl

Final Ranking: No. 4

Ironically, both Alabama and Georgia fielded one of their 10 best teams of all time in 1966. But because of the way college football was structured back then, they never met on the gridiron and end up sharing the SEC title. It would not have affected the national championship picture though since all eyes were focused on Michigan State and Notre Dame.

 

4. 1942

Record: 11-1

Finished: Beat UCLA 9-0 in the Rose Bowl

Final Ranking: No. 1 (Named by Litkenhous and seven other math-based ranking systems)

Led by Heisman Trophy-winning halfback Frank Sinkwich, the Bulldogs steamrolled their opposition, and Sinkwich set the single-season total offense record with 2,187 yards. The only blemish was 27-13 loss to Auburn, but Georgia bounced back to shut out No. 2 Georgia Tech and No. 13 UCLA in its final two games. The 9-1 Ohio State Buckeyes were named the AP national champions, but the Bulldogs were awarded the top spot in numerous other polls.

 

3. 1982

Record: 11-1

Finished: Lost to Penn State 27-23 in the Sugar Bowl

Final Ranking: No. 4

If not for that loss to Penn State, the 1982 Bulldogs would have won their second national championship in three seasons and would likely top this list. Instead, the Nittany Lions gave Joe Paterno his first national title.

 

2. 1946

Record: 11-0

Finished: Beat North Carolina 20-10 in the Sugar Bowl

Final Ranking: No. 3

Powered by halfback Charley Trippi, the Bulldogs averaged 35.6 points a game and beat all of its opponents by at least 10 points. Georgia finished the season with the only perfect record, but was ranked third behind Army and Notre Dame; yet another victim of the era when the national champion was crowned before the bowls.

 

1. 1980

Record: 12-0

Finished: Beat Notre Dame 17-10 in the Sugar Bowl

Final Ranking: No. 1

Down 15-2 to Tennessee late in the third quarter of the season opener, Georgia head coach Vince Dooley put in true freshman Herschel Walker. From there, the rest is history. Walker scored two touchdowns to beat the Volunteers 16-15 and Georgia went on to win the rest of its games en route to a national championship.

 

— Written by Aaron Tallent, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Tallent is a writer whose articles have appeared in The Sweet Science, FOX Sports’ Outkick the Coverage, Liberty Island and The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter at @AaronTallent.

Event Date: 
Tuesday, December 26, 2017 - 11:49

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