Lindsay Scott: Savior of Georgia’s 1980 National Championship

Lindsay Scott is a name who you rarely hear mentioned when discussing former Georgia greats, that is until one game and one play is brought up.

Former Georgia wide receiver Lindsay Scott has an everlasting legacy and indelible footprint at the University of Georgia, and it all came down to a single play in one crucial game during the 1980 season.

In four seasons at Georgia, Lindsay Scott was Steady-Eddie at the wide receiver position. He was that guy – the one the quarterbacks knew they could count on. He wasn’t explosively fast, overly athletic or particularly big, but he ran good routes and had soft hands. He was dependable and crafty.

He currently sits eighth all-time on Georgia’s career receiving list, and doesn’t even crack the top ten for single-season or single-game records in receiving or total receptions. He was very good, on a team full of very good players.

A guy like Scott usually becomes a footnote in the history of a large Division I program. Memorable for a short time, but then only recalled when someone starts really digging.

That will never be a problem for Lindsay Scott.

Thanks to Buck Belue, Larry Munson, and a gassed Florida Gators secondary, Scott will always be remembered in Georgia football lore. If you want to know the plain truth, he should be more than remembered. He should be revered.

Every Georgia football fan knows (or should know) the story. With just seconds left against Florida in 1980, and the Dawgs down 21-20 with an undefeated season on the line, Belue hit Scott after scrambling out of the Georgia end zone, and the rest is history.

Scott began weaving through the Florida secondary — urged on quite excitedly by Larry Munson on the radio — until he crossed the goal line for the winning score. The undefeated streak was secure, and the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party had one of it’s wildest weekends ever.

And while Scott, Belue, and all the other Georgia players may not have known it at the time, but that play was more than just beating a hated rival and staying undefeated for one more week. Without Lindsay Scott and his abilities, the 1980 National Championship may not happen for Georgia.

In 1980, national championships were still being decided by polls. The AP (sportswriters) and UPI (coaches) polls were specifically the two that mattered. Most seasons they agreed, but from time to time there would be a split championship.

Georgia finished the 1980 regular season undefeated and went into the national championship game against Notre Dame ranked No. 1 in both polls. But that ranking was merely a tribute to going 11-0 in the regular season, as there were still a number of coaches and journalists who doubted how good Georgia truly was.

Coming into the game against Florida, the undefeated Dawgs were ranked No. 2 in the nation. It took them eight weeks to claw their way there after beginning the season ranked 16th. A loss to the No. 20 Gators certainly would have sent Georgia tumbling in the rankings with only games against Auburn and Georgia Tech remaining.

Even winning those two rivalry games probably would have had the Bulldogs sitting behind both Florida State and Pitt in the rankings, with all of them trailing Notre Dame.

In other words, Notre Dame is probably playing in the Orange bowl against Florida State to decide the national champion, with Georgia playing a consolation prize in the Sugar Bowl.

Lindsay Scott changed all of that with his 93-yard touchdown catch to save the win and the season for the Bulldogs. Without him, history would be drastically different for the Bulldogs. Herschel Walker’s Sugar Bowl heroics wouldn’t have mattered, the tough-as-iron Georgia defense wouldn’t have mattered.

Just the loss to Florida. That’s all that would have mattered to the voters.

Fans who want to relive the entire 1980 Georgia-Florida game can tune-in to ESPNU at 8 am ET on Thursday, May 7. 

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