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Dominant SEC Programs Meet in Tuscaloosa



TUSCALOOSA, Ala. ?? College football fans looking for some Southern football trivia need to look at Bryant-Denny Stadium this Saturday when the 16th-ranked University of Alabama Crimson Tide hosts the 22nd-ranked University of Georgia Bulldogs in a nationally televised game.

Alabama and Georgia reek of tradition.

Former Alabama cornerback Charlie Peprah once said “there is so much tradition here; it’s almost smothering.  Why would you want to play anywhere else?  It’s awesome.”

Tradition is defined as a long accepted custom or belief.  You will find plenty of that in Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday.

Alabama and Georgia have combined for nearly 1,500 college football wins and 34 SEC Championships.  From 1971-82, the Crimson Tide and Bulldogs accounted for all 12 SEC titles.  The two were SEC co-champions in 1981.

Alabama Director of Athletics Mal Moore, who played and coached against Georgia during his Alabama career, and former Georgia Director of Athletics Vince Dooley, who led the Dogs from 1964-88, will both attend Saturday’s game.  Dooley and his wife, Barbara, will attend the game with Mrs. Dooley’s sister and brother-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Norm Baldwin.

Karen Baldwin is an Alabama alum and long-time UA employee. She is the Director of External Affairs and Development for the College of Engineering.  Norm Baldwin is a Georgia alumnus and is currently an Associate Professor in Political Science at Alabama. In addition, Dooley’s granddaughter, Catherine Cook is currently a freshman at Alabama. 

Moore was the Tide’s offensive coordinator under Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant during that incredible 12-year run.

“During our run of eight SEC championships in 10 years, the only time we didn’t win were years that Georgia did,” Moore said.  “Actually, in 1981 we tied for the league championship and, obviously, we didn’t play. The closest we came to losing in the regular season in 1973 was against Georgia in Bryant-Denny. We trailed 14-13 in the final few minutes of play and we scored a TD and a two-point conversion to go up 21-14. We got a turnover and scored again to make it 28-14.”

Dooley recalls the strength of both teams and their dominance on the field.

"Alabama dominated the whole decade, we were good as well, and in this day, we would've played in the SEC Championship game, and they would've been some great games,” Dooley recalls.  “The way the conference is now, if you lose a couple of games, there's hardly a chance you could play for the championship although Georgia did and won it in 2005.”

Actually from 1964-82, when Dooley and Bryant were coaching against one another, Alabama and Georgia would have met in the SEC Championship Game 11 times, including 1964, 1966, 1968, 1971, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1978, 1980 and 1981.

Alabama holds a 34-23-4 lead with Georgia in a series that dates back to 1895.  Saturday will mark the 64th meeting between these two Southern football powers. Georgia has won the last two meetings, beating Alabama in 2002 (27-25) and 2003 (37-23). Georgia’s 27-25 win in 2002 marked their first-ever win over the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa in eight tries. Billy Bennett’s 32-yard field goal with 38 seconds left in the game provided the winning margin for the Bulldogs.

Alabama and Georgia first met on Nov. 2, 1895, with the Bulldogs claiming a 30-6 win over the Crimson Tide in Columbus, Ga. The Georgia series is the third-oldest series in the Alabama record books. Only Auburn (1893) and Ole Miss (1894) are older.  The 1901 Alabama-Georgia game was the first scoreless tie in school history. It was also the first tie in Alabama history. Alabama has had 13 scoreless ties in its 113-year history and three of them have come against Georgia (1901, 1907 and 1954). Alabama did not register its first series win until a 16-5 victory in Tuscaloosa on Nov. 5, 1904.  Georgia was Alabama’s first-ever opponent at Birmingham Fairgrounds (1905), Cramton Bowl (1922) and Legion Field (1927).

Three of the four longest winning streaks in Alabama history began with a win over Georgia, including victories in 1924 (20 game-winning streak), 1961 (19-game winning streak; 26-game unbeaten streak) and 1991 (28-game winning streak; 31-game unbeaten streak. Georgia’s 1920 win over Alabama snapped the Crimson Tide’s then school record 12-game winning streak.

Alabama and Georgia played each other 51 times from 1895-1965. The two teams met every year from 1941-65, with the exception of 1943. Alabama and Georgia did not play from 1966-71 and 1996-2001, the longest hiatus in the series.

 “When I came back to Alabama in 1990, we lost a really tough game in Athens (17-16) and won a defensive struggle in ’91 (10-0),” Moore said.  “Most of the games with Georgia have been hard-hitting, tough games. They’ve had great coaches through the years, including Wally Butts and Vince Dooley. Their teams have always been extremely well-coached and hard-nosed. I talked to Coach Dooley earlier this week and I’m glad he’s going to be able to attend this week’s game. He’s a class act as is Mark Richt (current Georgia head coach). I’m sure it will be another hard-fought game between two schools that strive for excellence on the gridiron.”

The two teams will be playing for just the 13th time since the 1965 season this Saturday in a nationally televised game by ESPN, giving the nation another history lesson on Southern football tradition.

A look at some of the memorable Alabama-Georgia matchups heading into Saturday’s game.

Sept. 17, 1960 - Alabama 21, Georgia 0 -- Legion Field

Alabama defeated Georgia in the first-ever televised college football game by ABC.  The win was the first of 11 in a row by Alabama, who captured its first of six national championships under legendary coach Paul Bryant.

Mike Fracchia scores from the 1-yard line in Alabama’s 32-6 win over Georgia in Athens during the 1961 season.(right) 

Sept. 22, 1962 - Alabama 35, Georgia 0 -- Legion Field 

Alabama sophomore quarterback Joe Namath made his Crimson Tide debut, leading Alabama to a 35-0 win over Georgia. After two running plays to open the game, Namath dropped back and hit Richard Williamson with 51-yard TD pass on his first collegiate attempt for the Crimson Tide. The Namath era of Alabama football was underway. 

“Although we haven’t played Georgia annually in a number of years that wasn’t the case when I was in school,” Moore said.  “In 1959 and 1960, Georgia had the great Fran Tarkenton (whose daughter Hayley is currently a freshman at Alabama) and  we split those two games. In Coach Bryant’s first national championship season of 1961, we won fairly easily as we did in 1962.  It was the first game of Joe Namath’s career and my senior year. Joe threw three TD passes and we won 35-0 at Legion Field.”

Sept. 19, 1964 - Alabama 31, Georgia 3 -- Denny Stadium 

Namath completed 16 of 21 passes for 167 yards and added 55 more yards rushing to lead Alabama to an easy win over Georgia. Namath accounted for three TDs in the Alabama win, earning him Associated Press Back of the Week honors. Namath’s 222 yards of total offense was 57 more yards than the entire Georgia offense (165 yards). The game was also the first for Georgia head coach Vince Dooley.  Former Alabama football and baseball standout Cecil “Hootie” Ingram was the Bulldogs defensive coordinator from 1964-66.

"It was a heckuva way to start a career as a young coach, go to Tuscaloosa, versus Bear Bryant and a quarterback named Joe Namath,” Dooley said.  “They would go on to win the national championship. I was 31 and because of youth, I was foolish enough to think we could beat them. I learned a good lesson, and our football team learned a good lesson. We made some changes and ended up being a strong football team at the end of the season."

Sept. 18, 1965 - Georgia 18, Alabama 17 -- Athens, Ga. 

Georgia upset the defending national champions in the 1962 opener 18-17. A controversial lateral play provided the Bulldogs with winning points in the final quarter. TV replays showed that the Georgia player’s knee was down and the lateral should not have counted.

"The next year, we played them and were able to win and they ended up being national champions again,” Dooley said.  “We helped them because like us the year before, they made some adjustments after that and had a fine season. The game is remembered for a controversial play that helped us win, what is called a hook-and-ladder today. It got us in position to win. We still had to go for two and get it, and we did. It was a great victory for us. After the game, Coach Bryant came in to our locker room and congratulated the entire team. He handled the loss with class. That was the type of person he was.”

Oct. 2, 1976 - Georgia 21, Alabama 0 -- Athens, Ga. 

The famed Junkyard Dogs pitched a shutout over the No. 10 ranked Crimson Tide. Sixth-ranked Georgia got a solid game from QB Ray Goff, who led the Bulldogs to the shutout win en route to the SEC Championship.

"We had a good team in 1976 and went on to become SEC Champions,” Dooley said.  “The significant part was the celebration before and after with all the fans on the railroad tracks (a popular spot to sit and watch the game as Sanford Stadium was not enclosed on that end at the time). When we had our warm up Friday around 2-3 p.m., there were students, fans carrying mattresses and chairs already setting up on the tracks in anticipation for the game. By Saturday, there was not a place for another seat, probably 15,000 people out there. It was a memorable day for UGA and the city of Athens."

Sept. 2, 1985 - Alabama 20, Georgia 16 -- Athens, Ga. 

After a blocked punt that led to a Georgia touchdown, Alabama rallied in the final 50 seconds of the game to beat the Bulldogs 20-16 on Labor Day night in Athens. Mike Shula’s 21-yard pass to Al Bell with 16 seconds to play provided the Crimson Tide the game winning points.

Oct. 1, 1994 - Alabama 29, Georgia 28 -- Bryant-Denny Stadium 

In one of the most electrifying night game in the history of Bryant-Denny Stadium, Alabama rallied from an nine-point fourth quarter deficit to defeat the Georgia Bulldogs, 29-28. Michael Proctor’s 32-yard field goal with just over one minute remaining in the game provided the Crimson Tide with the winning margin.

Sept. 30, 1995 - Alabama 31, Georgia 0 -- Athens, Ga. 

In a defensive tussle, Alabama pitched a 31-0 shutout against Georgia, holding the home standing Bulldogs to 213 total yards. Alabama managed only 227 yards offense, but scored three defensive touchdowns to post it’s first-ever shutout over Georgia in Athens.  All-American Kevin Jackson scored twice to earn SEC Defensive Player of the Week honors.

Oct. 5, 2002 - Georgia 27, Alabama 25 -- Bryant-Denny Stadium 

Minutes after Alabama had taken a 25-24 lead on Charlie Peprah’s interception return, Georgia answered with a late drive and won the game as Billy Bennett nailed a 32-yard field goal with 38 seconds as the Bulldogs beat the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa for the first time.