Issue 1 – G-Day/Spring
With the strong 4-0 close to the 2020 season (highlighted by Jack Podlesny’s field goal winner against Cincinnati), the Bulldogs are carrying a great deal of momentum. Amongst the biggest reasons that Georgia is feeling good coming out of the spring is the quarterback position. JT Daniels put up big numbers to close out last season.
Two position groups carry the most concern. One is the offensive line. With a great deal of young talent, the versatility of the team’s best offensive lineman Jamaree Salyer, and the return of Justin Shafer, the pieces are there for O-Line coach Matt Luke.
The other area of concern is the secondary. Georgia was hit with massive attrition following the 2020 campaign. Lewis Cine is the unquestioned leader of the position group. Derion Kendrick, the transfer from Clemson is a huge addition. And the blue chipper Kelee Ringo is ready.
Issue 2 – Season Preview
At the top of any coach’s wish list when preseason camp begins is health. Georgia lost stellar wide receiver, George Pickens, to a knee injury in March, a huge blow. The defensive front seven, which will be leaned upon so heavily is not only healthy, but primed to do something special.
Bulldogs head coach Kirby Smart talks extensively about “connectivity.” Early signs point upwards. There is great leadership from the best players on the team and balance in the classes. To accomplish what the Bulldogs are aiming to do, it will take all hands on deck.
As preseason camp moves past the midpoint, the focus and attention turns to preparation for the mega-showdown with the Clemson Tigers. Georgia will be an underdog in Charlotte in a neutral site, renewed rivalry matchup between top five nationally ranked powerhouses.
Issue 3 – Clemson
Georgia-10, Clemson-3 | Bank of America Stadium – Charlotte
This was in many ways the least important game of the year. A loss, the door is still open to run the table, make the playoffs and maybe even get a rematch. But it would prove to be so big. Georgia’s prestige and confidence soars with an epic 10-3 victory on Vince Dooley’s birthday.
Christopher Smith made the play of the game, and arguably the season, with a 74-yard interception return for a TD. With the pick-six, a special teams turnover, and the end of the half, Georgia’s defense survived being on the field for essentially four straight Tiger possessions.
The topping of the Tigers shot Georgia from No. 5 to No. 2 in the national polls, while Clemson fell from third to sixth. The Bulldogs were in the spotlight and the playoff talk naturally had begun. After all the talk and focus on Clemson, Smart’s Dogs would have to handle success.
Issue 4 – UAB
Georgia-56, UAB-7 | Sanford Stadium
This was scary coming in. The Blazers had won two of the previous three Conference USA championships. They also won their season opener on Wednesday the week prior, while the Bulldogs played Saturday night away from home. South Carolina and the SEC loomed. Trap.
On the second play from scrimmage of the game, Stetson Bennett, getting the start at quarterback, threw a 73-yard touchdown strike to Jermaine Burton and the Bulldogs were off and running. Bennett was incredible and the defense dominant in Georgia’s 56-7 triumph.
Freshman tight end Brock Bowers made an All-American play, pulling in a short Bennett pass and racing 89 yards up the North sideline to the West end zone. It was shades of Herschel against South Carolina in 1980. Kevin Butler nicknamed the Napa native “Cab.” Smooth.
Issue 5 – South Carolina
Georgia-40, South Carolina-13 | Sanford Stadium
JT Daniels was back as the starting quarterback and the Georgia offense looked crisp, scoring touchdowns on the first two drives. James Cook behind great blocking dashed in, and then Daniels hit Burton for a long score to give Georgia early control against the Gamecocks.
There was some concern, as South Carolina’s standout wide receiver Josh Vann was able to get behind the Bulldogs secondary a couple of times. Due to Vann’s play, the Gamecocks were hanging around. It was 14-6 Georgia when the Bulldogs turned it up.
A scoring pass to Adonai Mitchell gave the Bulldogs a 21-6 lead in the 40-13 victory. Georgia then played great complimentary football. A punt downed inside the two. A safety. A good return. Then Jack Podlesny nailed a field goal to give the Dogs a momentum-laden 26-6 halftime lead.
Issue 6 – Vanderbilt
Georgia-62, Vanderbilt-0 | Vanderbilt Stadium – Nashville
It goes down as one of the great first quarter performances in the history of Georgia football. Completely dominant in all three phases, Georgia led 35-0 at the end of the first quarter. Brock Bowers and Ladd McConkey combined for five touchdowns in the 62-0 sinking of the Commodores.
JT Daniels was 9-of-10 passing in the first quarter. The lone incompletion was a drop. Stetson Bennett came in for the second quarter, and would never relinquish the reins the rest of the season. Georgia had now given up seven or fewer points in three out of four games.
As soon as the Nashville (11:00 am Central kickoff time) nooner was in the books, the attention immediately shifted to Arkansas and the start of a rugged October schedule. Smart challenged Georgia’s great fans to be elite and in their seats early for the noon game of the day versus the Hogs.
Issue 7 – Arkansas
Georgia-37, Arkansas-0 | Sanford Stadium
Early. Loud. Intense. Tough. Electric. Georgia’s fans filled Sanford Stadium well before kickoff and played a huge role in the Bulldogs 37-0 triumph. Georgia came in ranked second at 4-0, while Arkansas, following a huge win over Texas A&M, was also 4-0 and ranked No. 8.
The stadium was perhaps the most electric it was all season when the Bulldogs grabbed a 21-0 first quarter lead on a Dan Jackson blocked punt that was recovered by Zamir White for a touchdown. “Zeus” also ran for two touchdowns, as the Bulldogs dominated in a 37-0 triumph.
Arkansas, coached by former Georgia assistant Sam Pittman, had an outstanding year. The Hogs beat Texas, Texas A&M and LSU, and then toppled Penn State in the Outback Bowl to finish 9-4 on the campaign. The win over the Hogs may be Georgia’s most complete of the year.
Issue 8 – Auburn
Georgia-34, Auburn-10 | Jordan-Hare Stadium – Auburn
Auburn put together an impressive opening drive and grabbed an early 3-0 lead. It marked the first time all season that the Bulldogs had trailed in a game. The Tigers got the ball back with that 3-0 lead, but a Nakobe Dean interception off a tipped pass turned the momentum to Georgia.
The Bulldogs scored 24 unanswered points to grab control of the game. Zamir White scored on a nifty short yardage play, then Stetson Bennett hit Adonai Mitchell to go up 17-3. The Dogs had a critical goal line stand late in the first half. A bomb to Ladd McConkey put Georgia up 24-3.
Georgia’s 34-10 victory marked the Bulldogs 14th win in the last 17 meetings with the Tigers. That success in the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry is astounding. Through the years, Auburn has spoiled many a great year. The Tigers won seven of eight versus Georgia from 1983-1990.
Issue 9 – Kentucky
Georgia-30, Kentucky-13 | Sanford Stadium
Much like the Arkansas contest, it was another battle of unbeatens Between the Hedges with a high noon kickoff. Georgia got off to a slow start offensively in the first quarter, but capitalized on excellent defense and special teams to take a 14-0 lead. The Cats cut it to 14-7 at the half.
Georgia grabbed control on a sensational catch by Brock Bowers down the right side of the West End Zone to give the Bulldogs a 21-7 lead. Earlier in the drive, the freshman sensation had a brilliant run-after-catch called back due to a penalty, but scored anyway on the Stetson Bennett aerial.
A blocked field goal on a massive push from Jordan Davis and DeVonte Wyatt kept Georgia in front 24-7. Another sterling touchdown connection from Bennett to Bowers to go up 30-7. Kentucky scored in the closing seconds. The victory is Georgia’s 12th straight in the series.
Issue 10 – Georgia-Florida
Georgia-34, Florida-7 | TIAA Bank Field – Jacksonville
This annual battle on the banks of the mighty St. John’s marked the end of a brutal October stretch. Georgia’s four opponents in October entered the month with a cumulative record of 14-2. However, the Gators were sliding, and came to Jacksonville with a record of 4-3.
The closing two and half minutes of the first half were the key to the game. Turnovers created by Nolan Smith and Trayvon Walker led to a pair of lightning touchdowns. Then Nakobe Dean returned an interception 50 yards for a touchdown and Georgia had a 24-0 halftime lead.
The second half, Georgia and Florida fought a defensive battle and the Gators missed a short field goal. Zamir White put the cherry on top with a long touchdown run to make it 34-7. The win marked Georgia’s fourth in the last five meetings over the Gators as Georgia moved to 8-0.
Issue 11 – Missouri
Georgia-43, Missouri-6 | Sanford Stadium
For a third straight game, Georgia got off to a sluggish start offensively. The Bulldogs trailed the underdog Tigers 3-0 late in the first quarter. But Stetson Bennett hit Arian Smith for a clutch fourth down touchdown to give the Bulldogs a 7-3 lead. Georgia would dominate the rest of the way.
The victory clinched a berth in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game for the fourth time in five years for the Bulldogs and improved Georgia to 9-0 on the season. It was the 10th win in 11 all-time meetings with Missouri and eight in a row against the Tigers.
Following the game, in the Georgia locker room, some of the Bulldogs captains and team leaders spoke up about an unacceptable level of performance in the 43-6 victory. The message was clear. To accomplish the ultimate goal this team strived for, Georgia must do better.
Issue 12 – Tennessee
Georgia-41, Tennessee-17 | Neyland Stadium – Knoxville
The rejuvenated Volunteers of Josh Heupel were smelling an upset, trying to spoil top-ranked Georgia’s undefeated season. Tennessee raced to first quarter leads of 7-0 and 10-7. But the Bulldogs remained focused, steady and grounded and soon grabbed control of the game.
The Bulldogs had one of their best quarters of the season in the second period. Podlesny nailed a 40-yard field goal to tie it. Stetson Bennett gave the Bulldogs the lead for the first time on a 9-yard scamper, then threw a beautiful 23-yard scoring toss to James Cook for a 24-10 halftime lead.
For the first time since the 1982 SEC champion Bulldogs posted an 11-0 regular season, Georgia had a record of 10-0. The win over Tennessee extended the Bulldogs streak in the series to five in a row, with all of the triumphs decided by at least 23 points.
Issue 13 – Charleston Southern
Georgia-56, Charleston Southern-7 | Sanford Stadium
It was the final home game of the season, and a crisp November autumn Saturday. The Bulldogs were favored to win by a lot and Georgia did just that. This was a breather after winning eight straight SEC games with the Jackets and then the SEC Championship Game on deck.
Jordan Davis shifted to the fullback position, and one of the dominant defenders in college football, on his second carry, struck paydirt to give the Bulldogs a 7-0 lead. Georgia scored 28 points in the first quarter and 21 in the second to grab a 49-0 lead at intermission.
Under Kirby Smart’s watch, Georgia posted a perfect record at Sanford Stadium for the fourth time in five seasons. The Bulldogs improved to 11-0 with the win, the first time Georgia had an 11-0 record since the 1982 SEC champions. After this, only championship games remain.
Issue 14 – Ga Tech
Georgia-45, Tech-0 | Bobby Dodd Stadium – Atlanta
Georgia grabbed early control with top-notched, complimentary football. Stetson Bennett hit Jermaine Burton and Ladd McConkey for scores to go up 17-0. Then Brock Bowers made another spectacular catch and run through six Tech defenders. Bowers opened the second half with a leaping TD grab.
With the victory, Georgia improved to 12-0. The last time Georgia was 12-0 was 1980, as the national champion Bulldogs went a perfect 12-0. The Bulldogs also extended their winning streak to 16 games, one off the school record of 17 consecutive wins from 1945-1947.
Dating back to 2017, Georgia won for a fourth straight time over the Jackets. Over that stretch, the Bulldogs outscored the Yellow Jackets 180-35. Georgia won for an 11th straight time over the Jackets at Grant Field. The Bulldogs are 17-3 versus Tech since 2001.
Sic Vos Non Vobis ++.
Alabama-41, Georgia-24 | Mercedes-Benz Stadium – Atlanta
Alabama extended its winning streak against Georgia to seven games with the 41-24 win over the Bulldogs in Atlanta. The Crimson Tide came back in strong fashion from a 10-0 deficit to score 24 points in the second quarter. Georgia trailed at halftime for the first time all year.
Crimson Tide sophomore quarterback Bryce Young had a spectacular performance and padded his Heisman Trophy resume. A Georgia defense that had given up no more than 17 points on the season struggled against the Young-led Crimson Tide passing attack.
Turnovers doomed the Bulldogs. Alabama recorded a pair of second half interceptions, including a pick-six that extended the Crimson Tide’s lead to 38-17. Georgia and Alabama were both 12-1 and playoff bound leaving Atlanta.
Issue 15 – CFP SEMI – Orange Bowl
Georgia-34, Michigan-11 | Hard Rock Stadium – Miami
Georgia dominated Michigan and played the best first half of the season, heading to intermission with a 27-3 lead. The Bulldogs defense was dominant, Jack Podlesny hit a pair of FGs, and the Bulldogs had three TD strikes through the air in the first half, including a sweet halfback pass.
It was the fourth Orange Bowl appearance for the Bulldogs and first since January 1, 1960. Georgia and Michigan played for just the third time. The Wolverines won 26-0 in 1957 in Ann Arbor. Georgia upset Michigan 18-7 in the Big House in 1965, two weeks after beating Bama.
This was Michigan’s first appearance in the College Football playoff. The Wolverines upset Ohio State then beat Iowa for the Big Ten title. Georgia was in the playoff for the second time under Kirby Smart’s watch. Georgia won a major bowl game for the fourth time in five years.
Georgia-33, Alabama-18 | Lucas Oil Stadium – Indianapolis
For the second time in five years, SEC heavyweight Alabama and Georgia met for the national championship. Just over five weeks earlier, the Crimson Tide beat Georgia 41-24 in the SEC Championship Game. This Monday night 1/10/2022 offered a rare college football rematch.
Georgia scored the final 20 points of the game to secure the 33-18 victory over the Crimson Tide. Freshmen Adonai Mitchell and Brock Bowers both caught a touchdown against Michigan and Alabama. Kelee Ringo sealed the victory with a 79-yard interception return for a TD.
The victory sent the Bulldog Nation into a state of euphoria. After several near misses, Georgia captured its first national championship since 1980. The 14 victories this season set a school record. Kirby Smart joins an elite list of coaches to win national titles for their alma mater.
2021 National Champions Commemorative Edition
Georgia’s national championship team of 2021 wound up with victories over four schools – Clemson, Auburn, Florida and Alabama – that combined to win 11 of the 15 previous national titles, plus Michigan which has the most wins in the history of college football.
Over the last five seasons, Georgia has won the 2021 national championship and four major bowl games: 2018 Rose Bowl, 2020 Sugar Bowl, 2021 Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl, 2021 Orange Bowl and finished in the top ten for a school record five consecutive campaigns.
Over the last 60 years, only four head coaches have led their alma mater to a college football national championship: Paul “Bear” Bryant at Alabama, Florida’s Steve Spurrier, Phil Fulmer at Tennessee and Kirby Smart’s 2021 National Champion University of Georgia Bulldogs!