It’s the home opener for Georgia in 2021, as the Bulldogs host the UAB Blazers Saturday afternoon, with kickoff set for 3:30 p..m. Between the Hedges of Sanford Stadium. Georgia comes in 1-0 with a thrilling 10-3 victory over Clemson. UAB opened its season last Wednesday, September 1, defeating Jacksonville State 31-0 in Montgomery, which gave the Blazers a head start for Saturday’s game.
The excitement and enthusiasm from the Georgia people is sky high. Christopher Smith’s 74-yard interception return for a touchdown will go down in Georgia lore, as it was the difference-making play behind a dominating defensive performance. Georgia racked up seven sacks, held the Tigers to two rushing yards and turned Clemson away in numerous critical situations. But as Bulldogs head coach Kirby Smart told his players – and a national television audience – immediately after the monumental victory over Clemson, a very good football team is coming to Athens.
UAB has been a tremendous success story under the watch of fifth-year head coach Bill Clark. The program was resurrected in 2017, after controversially being done away with following the 2014 season. Under Clark’s watch, the Blazers have been to four bowl games and won two of the last three Conference USA championships, including last season, and been to three consecutive league title games.
The Blazers beat Marshall 22-13 in the Conference USA Championship Game last season, and earned a berth against South Carolina in the Gasparilla Bowl, which wound up being cancelled. UAB brings back 17 starters from last year’s team. Senior quarterback Tyler Johnston III is one of eight offensive returnees, while nine starters are back from a unit that finished seventh nationally a year ago in pass defense.
Saturday’s game will be the third all-time meeting between the Bulldogs and Blazers. A top five ranked Georgia team was scared to death the week before going to Jacksonville in 2003, escaping Sanford Stadium with a 16-13 win over UAB. In 2006, the Bulldogs shut out the Blazers 34-0 in Athens. The week prior, Georgia shut out South Carolina 18-0 in Columbia, the day after the great Erk Russell passed away in Statesboro. The shutout of the Gamecocks was Georgia’s first road SEC shutout since the legendary, beloved defensive coordinator’s final season in Athens in 1980. The back to back shutouts were a first since 1980.
That season remains the Gold Standard for Georgia football. This Bulldogs team is hungry for such. The duty that comes next on that path, the talented Blazers, aiming to make some history of their own.