Georgian football involved in six of CFB’s top 60 games of the 2000s

Georgia has played in a number of important games during the 21st century. In fact, ESPN reckons it was in six of the top 60 games of the 2000s. Four of those involved Smart Kirby as head coach. No. 35 is one of many games against Alabama, with this one being the 2018 SEC Championship game.

Before Georgia finally had one on the Crimson Tide and beat them to the 2021 national title, the Dawgs’ last 10 years were defined by close-but-cigarless moments. In the 2018 SEC Championship Game, the Dawgs missed out on a spot in the CFP when Jalen hurtsfor injured Alabama starter Tua Tagovailoaled two touchdown passes in the fourth quarter (which sandwiched an infamous fake failed punt) and scored the winner with 64 seconds left.

It was by far only the third most heartbreaking loss suffered by the Dawgs against Bama in the 2010s.

No. 9 and No. 8 were, once again, losses to the Crimson Tide, with No. 9 entering the 2012 SEC Championship game under Marc Richt.

Alabama kept Mark Richt’s Bulldogs out of the BCS Championship game by overcoming an 11-point third-quarter deficit and taking the lead for 45 yards amari cooper touchdown with 3:15 to play. Georgia ran 80 yards in response, but on the first and the Bama 8 goal, Chris Conley caught a deflected Aaron Murray pass and was tackled in bounds. Georgia had no more time outs and the time expired. Bama won the national title.

At No. 8, the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship.

Georgia had to wait five years (and change coaches) to get another chance. The Dawgs won the SEC to reach the national title game and took a 13-0 halftime lead, but the substitute quarterback Tua Tagovailoa brought back the tide. They tied the game at 20-20, but he went to OT after missing a late field goal. Georgia scored a field goal in OT, then sacked Tagovailoa for a huge loss, but on the second and 26 he hit DeVonta Smith for a 41-yard touchdown. Bama won the national title.

Georgia had to wait another four seasons for another title shot in 2021, and finally beat the tide in a game that wasn’t on this list but could have been. No one could say that the Dawgs hadn’t paid their dues.

At No. 4 was the prayer to Jordan-Hare, an unlikely turn of events late in the fourth quarter that would have been the most memorable play of the season, if not for what happened in the Iron Bowl two weeks later. Coming to No. 2 overall was the second-best Rose Bowl in the past 22 years, where Georgia emerged victorious over Oklahoma in a 54-48 double-overtime thriller.

This game was everything college football can be. It was filled with future pro talent, it featured two completely different attacking styles, it was played within the perfect confines of the Rose Bowl (like so many games on this list), and the plot twists were aplenty.

Oklahoma led a 24-7 run to take a decisive second quarter lead, but two touchdowns in two minutes gave Georgia a sudden advantage early in the fourth. But after OU tied the game with a touchdown pass from Baker Mayfield to Dimitri Flowers, Steven Parker returned a Sony Michel fumble 46 yards to push the Sooners ahead. A short, late Nick Chubb touchdown sent the game into overtime, and in the second possession OT, Georgia Lorenzo Carter blocked Austin Seibert’s field goal attempt. It gave Michel a chance to redeem himself: his 27-yard outburst sent the Dawgs to the national title game.

In a way, it was only the second best Rose Bowl of the century.

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