A brief history of Georgia football and the Orange Bowl

A general view of the Capital One Orange Bowl logo displayed in Hard Rock Stadium. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
A general view of the Capital One Orange Bowl logo displayed in Hard Rock Stadium. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /
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Georgia football
Georgia Bulldog former player and NFL Hall of Fame member Fran Tarkenton shown with a fan during the Georgia Spring Game at Sanford Stadium. (Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports) /

January 1, 1960: Georgia 14, Missouri 0

Georgia had one of the all-time great defenses in 2021. They had another good one in 1959.

The Bulldog defense in the 1959 season gave up an average of 9.9 points per game, much like this past year’s elite defense. Combined with the play of Georgia’s plucky quarterback Fran Tarkenton, this ’59 Bulldog team had an excellent season.

Georgia reeled off seven straight wins after an early loss to South Carolina in Columbia. This win streak helped the Dawgs claim the 1959 SEC Championship for the first time in a decade, giving Coach Butts his fourth SEC title.

This season was an outlier in a pretty rough decade for the Dawgs. Before 1959, they had a stretch of four straight losing seasons. In today’s “win now” college football world, fans would have been calling for Coach Butts’ head.

The defense that had been so dominant all year proved to be the X-factor against Mizzou. In the first-ever nationally televised Georgia football game, the Dawg defense shut out the Tigers en route to a 14-0 win.

Fran Tarkenton provided all of Georgia’s offenses on the day. He completed 9-of-16 passes for 131 yards and two touchdowns. The Dawgs finished the season ranked No. 5 in the final AP poll and a 10-1 overall record.

Following his time at Georgia, Tarkenton would go on to have an 18-year career in the NFL, playing for both the Minnesota Vikings and New York Giants. He was a nine-time Pro Bowler, the 1975 NFL MVP, and he helped lead the Vikings to three Super Bowl appearances in the 1970s. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1986.

dark. Next. Georgia football: 3 early predictions for the exciting Orange Bowl

Georgia football has had a wild ride in the Orange Bowl and the fourth appearance should be memorable.