The Kirby Smart Year 6 opener set in motion for Georgia football to have a historic season
2021: Georgia beat Clemson 10-3
The most recent opening game might be the most memorable of head coach Kirby Smart’s career. It was this game in Charlotte, N.C., that began “The Year of the Dawg.”
Georgia and Clemson first met back in 1897. Their last meeting came in Athens in 2014, which resulted in a 45-21 win for the Dawgs thanks to 198 rushing yards and four touchdowns (one being a kick return) from Todd Gurley.
Clemson was looking to return to the College Football Playoff after being drubbed by Ohio State in 2020. They would be entering 2021 without their star quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who helped the Tigers win three ACC Championships and the 2018 CFP Championship. Replacing Lawrence was former five-star DJ Uiagalelei, who was high on many preseason Heisman lists.
Georgia entered this game with returning talent on both sides of the ball, but injuries plagued the Dawgs during the spring and fall, especially on offense. George Pickens, Darnell Washington, Dominick Blaylock, Kearis Jackson, and other top pass catchers were listed as out or questionable heading into this game.
Both defenses, however, were ready to carry their teams in this contest.
The Bulldog defense allowed two rushing yards, sacked Uiagalelei seven times, collected eight tackles for loss, and scored the game’s only touchdown on a 74-yard pick-six.
On offense, freshman tight end Brock Bowers led the team with six catches for 43 yards. Running back Zamir White had 74 rushing yards on 13 carries.
You all know what happened after this game, a 12-0 record, an Orange Bowl victory over Michigan, and beating Alabama to win the 2021 National Championship. All of this success might not have happened without the dominating week one victory over the Clemson Tigers.
What iconic moments will we witness this year when Georgia battles Oregon? If history has taught us anything, Week 1 will always set the tone for how the rest of your season will turn out.