The greatest teams in the history of Georgia football

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Given Georgia’s history of excellence in college football dating back to 1892, it was not an easy task to assemble a list of the ten greatest teams in program history. But after winning back-to-back national titles, it got me thinking: Where do the 2021 and 2022 Georgia Bulldogs stack up amongst some of the other legendary seasons in program history?

The Bulldogs have won four national titles and come close on a number of different occasions, including multiple times in the past 10 years. Georgia’s seen its share of great teams, each possessing its own unrepeatable story and players who etched their names into the history books.

Below you’ll find my ranking of the ten greatest Georgia teams that have left their mark on the program. From national titles to iconic moments, the Bulldogs have a history of unbridled excellence that will be celebrated for years to come.

The ten greatest teams in the history of Georgia football:

1966: 10-1, (5-0)

(AP Photo/Fred Kaufman)

Georgia finished as the SEC co-champion alongside Alabama in 1966. It was Vince Dooley’s third year as head coach of the Bulldogs, and UGA had wins over seventh-ranked Florida and fifth-ranked Georgia Tech in the regular season and a win over tenth-ranked SMU in the Cotton Bowl.

Georgia finished with a No. 4 national ranking, as all eyes were on Michigan and Notre Dame that year.

Offensive standouts: QB Kirby Moore, RB Ronnie Jenkins, WR Frank Richter

Defensive standouts: DL Bill Stanfill, LB Happy Dicks, DE Billy Payne

1946: 11-0, (5-0)

(AP Photo/Horace Cort)

In 1946, Charley Trippi led Georgia to its first undefeated season and a 20-10 victory over North Carolina in the Sugar Bowl. Georgia was the only undefeated team in the nation that year, but finished ranked third behind Army and Notre Dame.

Against rival Georgia Tech, Trippi compiled 544 combined yards rushing, passing, and returning kicks, and scored three touchdowns in Georgia’s 35–7 victory.

Trippi was awarded the Maxwell Award as the most outstanding college player in the nation, the Walter Camp Memorial Trophy as the nation’s best back, was named the Southeastern Conference’s player of the year and was a unanimous choice for the All-America team. He finished as runner-up in Heisman Trophy voting behind Glenn Davis of Army.

Offensive standouts: QB John Rauch, HB Charley Trippi, HB John Donaldson, WR Dan Edwards

2012: 12-2, (7-1), Orange Bowl Champions

Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

This one still hurts to this day. This team had some serious firepower on both sides of the ball. Quarterback Aaron Murray and true freshmen running back Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall made this one of the most memorable UGA offenses in history. And don’t forget the stud receivers Tavarres King and Malcolm Mitchell. These guys averaged 38 points per game under Mark Richt and Mike Bobo’s play-calling. Defensively, they were stacked with linebackers Jarvis Jones and Alec Ogletree and defensive backs Bacarri Rambo and Shawn Williams.

They went 11-1 in the regular season, with their only loss coming on the road to a No. 6 South Carolina with Marcus Lattimore and Jadeveon Clowney.

Against Alabama in the SEC Championship Game, Georgia came out swinging and had a 21-10 lead in the third quarter after Alec Ogletree returned a blocked field goal for a touchdown. Next thing you know, Georgia’s trailing 32-28 after a 45-yard Amari Cooper touchdown with just over three minutes to go. Georgia got the ball back at its 15 with 1:08 to go. Aaron Murray, Arthur Lynch and Tavarres King put together a beautiful drive to get us down to the Alabama 8-yard line before disaster struck. After a 26 yard gain to Lynch and with the clock running, Murray rushed to the line and threw a pass that was tipped and then caught by Chris Conley at the 5. Conley fell to the ground but the clock kept running. Georgia would not get another snap off.

The worst part is that Georgia would have absolutely hammered Notre Dame in the national title game that year.

Offensive standouts: QB Aaron Murray, RB Todd Gurley, RB Keith Marshall, WR Tavarres King, WR Malcolm Mitchell, WR Chris Conley, WR Marlon Brown, WR Michael Bennett, TE Arthur Lynch, OL David Andrews, OL Chris Burnette, OL Kolton Houston

Defensive standouts: LB Jarvis Jones, LB Alec Ogletree, LB Amarlo Herrera, LB Michael Gilliard, LB Jordan Jenkins, DL Garrison Smith, DL Kwame Geather, DL John Jenkins, DL Ray Drew, DB Shawn Williams, DB Bacarri Rambo, DB Sanders Commings, DB Damian Swann

1982: 11-1, (6-0), SEC Champions

Manny Rubio-USA TODAY Sports

If it were not for a 27-23 loss to Penn State in the Sugar Bowl, the 1982 Georgia Bulldogs would be remembered as one of the top-four greatest teams in the history of the program. Led by Heisman winner Herschel Walker, Georgia took down the reigning national champions, the No. 11 ranked Clemson Tigers, in the season opener and rolled to an undefeated regular season. Additionally, Georgia delivered a historic 44-0 beatdown over rival Florida, which propelled the Dawgs to the No. 1 ranking in the nation for the first time since the 1980 national championship season. That Sugar Bowl loss to Penn State is one that still haunts older members of the Dawg Nation.

Offensive standouts: RB Herschel Walker

Defensive standouts: DL Freddie Gilbert, DL Jimmy Payne, LB Knox Culpepper, DB Terry Hoage

2002: 13-1, (7-1), SEC Champions

(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Mark Richt’s long career as head coach of the Georgia Bulldogs yielded plenty of historic teams, including 2007 and 2012. However, the 2002 Georgia team was something special. It was only Richt’s second year in Athens, and he brought the Bulldogs from average to a national contender with this 13-1 SEC Championship team. Georgia had beaten a ranked Alabama and a highly ranked Tennessee team to start the season off 8-0 before losing a close game to a not-so-great Florida team. Had it not been for the 20-13 loss in Jacksonville, Georgia would have had a chance at the national title.

Offensive standouts: QB David Greene, RB Musa Smith, WR Terrence Edwards, WR Fred Gibson, TE Benjamin Watson, OL Jon Stinchcomb

Defensive standouts: DE David Pollack, DB Tim Jennings, DB Sean Jones, DB Thomas Davis, LB Boss Bailey

2017: 13-2, (7-1), SEC Champions

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

This one hurts just to think about. In Kirby Smart’s second year as head coach of the Georgia football program, he guided the Bulldogs to an 11-1 regular season record. The only loss came to a red-hot Auburn team on the road. However, Georgia was able to beat the Tigers the second time around in Atlanta to secure its first SEC Championship since 2005.

Georgia would beat Heisman winner Baker Mayfield and the Oklahoma Sooners in a historic Rose Bowl before falling short to Alabama in overtime in the national title.

Led by senior ball carriers Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, this team had it all going on. Freshman quarterback Jake Fromm did everything that was asked of him all season long. Chubb and Michel both carried the load, and receiver Javon Wims was able to make big plays to help the Bulldogs to a record-breaking offensive year. On defense, it was the Roquan Smith show.

Additionally, Georgia had great production from outside linebackers Davin Bellamy and Lorenzo Carter and cornerback Deandre Baker began turning heads prior to his Jim Thorpe Award-winning season in 2018.

Offensive standouts: QB Jake Fromm, RB Sony Michel, RB Nick Chubb, RB D’Andre Swift, WR Javon Wims, WR Mecole Hardman, WR Terry Godwin

Defensive standouts: LB Roquan Smith, LB Davin Bellamy, LB Lorenzo Carter, DB Deandre Baker, DB J.R. Reed, DB Malkom Parrish, DL Jonathan Ledbetter, DL Tyler Clark, DL Trenton Thompson

1942: 11-1, (6-1), SEC Champions, National Champions

(AP Photo/Anthony Camerano)

Head coach Wally Butts’ first two seasons at Georgia did not yield much success, going a combined 10-10-1. However, in 1941, Butts and the Bulldogs began to take a step in the right direction, finishing with a mark of 9-1-1. After that came 1942. Georgia had two players by the names of Frank Sinkwich and Charley Trippi, regarded as the two best players in college football at the time. Behind Sinkwich and Trippi, Georgia was able to finish 11-1, including a Rose Bowl win over UCLA. The Bulldogs were named national champions of the 1942 season – a season that includes Georgia’s largest margin of victory of Florida, 75-0.

The Georgia defense that year was simply incredible, only allowing 6.3 points per game and shutting out six opponents. Additionally, Sinkwich would win the Heisman Trophy and Trippi began a career that would make him one of the greatest players in the history of college football. Legendary Alabama head coach Bear Bryant was once on record saying that Trippi was the best college football he had ever seen.

This team didn’t just win on the football field. Many of them went on to serve in the military. Some, like Poschner, were injured, and others, like Walter Ruark, Will Burt and Winfred Goodman, made the ultimate sacrifice.

Offensive standouts: HB Frank Sinkwich, HB Charley Trippi, end George Poschner, guard Walter Ruark

1980: 12-0, (6-0), SEC Champions, National Champions

Malcolm Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Until 2021, this was Georgia football’s most recent national championship. This team was magical. When freshman back Herschel Walker ran right over Bill Bates and the Tennessee Volunteers, you knew that team was going to be a force to be reckoned with.

And they were.

Georgia, led by head coach Vince Dooley, went on to a perfect 12-0 season, and the Voice of the Bulldogs Larry Munson delivered a few iconic calls as well. Two of Munson’s greatest calls ever came that season, when Herschel ran over Bill Bates and when Buck Belue found Lindsay Scott for a 92 yard touchdown to lead Georgia to a 26-21 win over Florida. When Georgia faced Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl, Herschel, accompanied by a separated shoulder, ran for 150 yards and led the Dawgs to a 17-10 win over the No. 7 ranked Irish.

Offensive standouts: QB Buck Belue, RB Herschel Walker, WR Lindsay Scott, WR Amp Arnold,

Defensive standouts: DL Jimmy Payne, DL Eddie Cleaver, DL Freddie Gilbert, DB Terry Hoage, DB Scott Woerner

2022: 15-0, (8-0), SEC Champions, National Champions

(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Kirby smart somehow had his team believing that the media thought the Dawgs were not going to be contenders in 2022. After losing 15 players from its 2021 championship team, including five first rounders, Georgia still managed to return enough talent to go a perfect 15-0 and win it all.

Led by Stetson Bennett at quarterback, the Bulldogs started with a 49-3 hammering of No. 11 Oregon in the season-opener. If it weren’t for a close call against Missouri, Georgia would have won every regular season game by 10+ points. It hung 50 on LSU in the SEC Championship Game to win UGA’s first conference title since 2017. Then came the ‘Midnight Miracle’ against Ohio State in the Peach Bowl, where the Buckeyes kicker shanked his would-be game-winning field goal as the clock struck midnight on January 1.

Georgia would go on to beat TCU 65-7 in the national championship game, making it the biggest blowout in bowl game history.

Offensive standouts: QB Stetson Bennett, RB Kenny McIntosh, TE Brock Bowers, TE Darnell Washington, OL Broderick Jones, WR Ladd McConkey

Defensive standouts: DT Jalen Carter, LB Jamon Dumas-Johnson, LB Smael Mondon, LB Nolan Smith, DB Christopher Smith, DB Kelee Ringo, DB Javon Bullard

2021: 14-1, (8-0), National Champions

Syndication: The Indianapolis Star

This Georgia team is one of the greatest college football teams of all-time. Defensively, it’s the greatest. During the regular season, Georgia’s defense allowed an average of 7.5 points per game. It started with a 10-3 win over No. 3 ranked Clemson in Charlotte, and after that, Georgia won every game by 17+ points.

Offensively, it had its struggles throughout the season. JT Daniels started the year at quarterback before Stetson Bennett took over early in the season. Bennett got the job done throughout the year, but Georgia fans were never truly comfortable in 2021 with his play. But Bennett looked to freshman sensation Brock Bowers early and often, and Bowers would go on to score 13 receiving touchdowns – a single season record at UGA.

Bennett his his groove as the season progressed, but Georgia blew a 10-0 lead against Alabama in the SEC Championship Game and ended up falling to the Tide 41-24.

But the Dawgs would get their revenge one month later in Indianapolis.

After beating Michigan 34-11 in the Orange Bowl, Georgia would face the Crimson Tide again. Vegas had Georgia as the favorite to win, but nobody really understood why seeing what happened in the SEC championship.

But Georgia exchanged blows with the Tide all night long in Indianapolis and eventually took the lead in the fourth quarter on a 40 yard touchdown from Bennett to freshman AD Mitchell. Georgia followed that with a touchdown to Brock Bowers to give the Dawgs a 26-18 lead with just over 3 minutes to go. On Alabama’s final drive, Kelee Ringo picked off Heisman winner Bryce Young and returned to the house to bring home Georgia’s first national title since 1980.

Georgia would go on to have 15 players drafted, the most in the draft’s history, including five first rounders from the defense.

Offensive standouts: QB Stetson Bennett, RB Zamir White, RB James Cook, TE Brock Bowers, WR Ladd McConkey, WR AD Mitchell, WR George Pickens, WR Jermaine Burton, OL Justin Shaffer, offensive lineman Jamaree Salyer

Defensive standouts: DL Jordan Davis, DL Devonte Wyatt, DL Jalen Carter, DL Travon Walker, LB Nakobe Dean, LB Channing Tindall, LB Quay Walker, LB Nolan Smith, DB Lewis Cine, DB Kelee Ringo, DB Christopher Smith, DB Derion Kendrick, DB Latavious Brini, P Jake Camarda

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Story originally appeared on UGA Wire