With Georgia football set to face off against Vanderbilt this weekend, let’s look at some classic games between these two teams. While the Dawgs hold a commanding series lead, these two teams are always fun to watch when they take on each other.
No. 1 ranked Georgia’s next victim is Vanderbilt. The Dawgs enter this game with a 6-0 record, while the Commodores sit at 2-3. Oddly enough, this will be the first time these two teams have faced each other in Athens since 2018. Their 2020 meeting was called off due to COVID-19 issues.
Most Georgia fans would not consider Vanderbilt one of the team’s biggest rivals, likely because the Dawgs have dominated the overall series (59-20-2) against the Commodores. There is a history between the two groups, however.
Let’s look at the three best Georgia football games against Vanderbilt.
Georgia and Vanderbilt first played each other in 1893, with Vandy taking a 35-0 win. The Commodores won six of the first seven matchups against the Bulldogs. Georgia’s first win came in Athens with a 4-0 final score. Are we sure that wasn’t a baseball game?
However, as the 20th century progressed, Georgia began to dominate the series. Since 1968, when the two teams began playing each other every year, Vanderbilt has beaten Georgia just six times. It has been a lopsided rivalry.
Despite Georgia’s dominance, there have been some great games and moments in this rivalry. Today, let’s look back at three of the most well-known games in the series history.
1980: No. 1 Georgia football 41, Vanderbilt 0
Based on the score and stats sheet, it looks as if there’s not much to say about this game, as Georgia football soundly defeated the Commodores in Athens. However, this game is remembered for Herschel Walker’s individual performance that broke a long-standing Georgia record.
Everyone knows about the 1980 Georgia Bulldogs. They entered this game undefeated, while Vanderbilt was still searching for their first win. It would be an uphill battle for the Commodores, especially with this game being in Athens.
Georgia did not take long to get on the board. Herschel Walker ran for a 60-yard touchdown on their first offensive possession. “Herschel’s gone! Herschel’s gone!” Larry Munson excitedly said after he scored to help put the Dawgs up 7-0 early.
The Dawgs overpowered Vandy for the rest of the game and would cruise to a 41-0 victory. Georgia’s defense forced four turnovers, including three interceptions. Quarterback Buck Belue threw for 139 yards and one touchdown, which was a 58 yard strike to tight end, Norris Brown.
Walker was the MVP on offense, as he rushed for 283 yards and three touchdowns. His 283 yards broke the school record for the most rushing yards in a single game, which is still the school record to this day.
He would go on to set the NCAA single-season rushing record for a freshman with 1,616 yards and 15 touchdowns. His dominance helped the Dawgs win the Sugar Bowl against Notre Dame to be crowned national champions.
1983: No. 8 Georgia football 20, Vanderbilt 13
In 1983, Georgia was looking to continue the great success it had achieved in the early 80s. From 1980-1982, the Dawgs won 33 games, three SEC Championships, and one National Championship, arguably the greatest three-year run in program history.
This year, however, they would be without star running back Herschel Walker, who had departed for the New Jersey Generals of the USFL. Luckily, there were still plenty of talented players on the team, such as John Lastinger, Keith Montgomery, Herman Archie, and Terry Hoage. Hoage was a freshman in 1980 when the Dawgs won the national championship, and he continued to progress into one of the best defensive backs in program history.
Hoage, a native of Huntsville, TX, was only recruited by Georgia coming out of high school. However, he soon became of the best defensive players on the team. He led the team with 12 interceptions in his junior season and was named an All-American. Three of his interceptions that season came against Vanderbilt.
Vince Dooley once said that Hoage was the best defensive player he had ever coached, and his game against Vanderbilt in 1983 likely had something to do with that statement.
Georgia had a 14-10 lead late in the second quarter, but the Commodores were looking to add some points before halftime. Terry Hoage would intercept a pass near the goal line to prevent them from scoring.
After two field goals from Kevin Butler and a Vandy field goal in the second half, the Dawgs led the game 20-13. The Commodores would not go down without a fight, however. As time was winding down in the fourth quarter, Vanderbilt had gotten the ball to the Georgia 31-yard line. Vandy quarterback Kurt Page dropped back to pass and fired a ball toward the back of the endzone. Terry Hoage would make an incredible deflection to prevent a touchdown.
Andre Holmes would intercept Page on the next play to seal Georgia’s victory, but fans will forever remember the great play from Terry Hoage to prevent the Vandy touchdown.
Georgia would finish 1983 with a 10-1-1 record, and they would defeat Texas in the Cotton Bowl. Vanderbilt, meanwhile, finished with a 2-9 record.
2008: No. 10 Georgia football 24, No. 22 Vanderbilt 14
To date, this is the only meeting in which both Georgia and Vanderbilt were ranked.
2008 was a weird year for Georgia. They were ranked No. 1 in the preseason for the first time after finishing No. 2 in 2007. A big reason for the high ranking was the future NFL talent on both sides of the ball that would be featured.
Matthew Stafford, Knowshon Moreno, Mohamed Massaquoi, and AJ Green highlighted the offense, while Geno Atkins, Reshad Jones, Akeem Dent, and Justin Houston were the stars on defense. This had all the makings of a dream season in Athens.
After a 4-0 start, this dream turned into a nightmare when Georgia hosted Alabama in Athens. The Crimson Tide dominated the first half, took a 31-0 lead at halftime, and cemented in the minds of some fans that the black jerseys were cursed.
Vanderbilt was the surprise of college football at the start of the season. They started the year 5-0 for the first time since 1943, and they had defeated two ranked teams in South Carolina and Auburn. Two weeks later, Georgia would be welcoming another ranked SEC team to Sanford Stadium. ESPN’s College Gameday even went to Nashville to be part of the Vandy-Auburn game, which the Commodores won 14-13.
The scoring for both teams started late in this game. With a minute left in the first quarter, Matthew Stafford hit AJ Green for a 17-yard touchdown to help Georgia go up 7-0. This remained the score until the first half was coming to a close when Georgia intercepted Vanderbilt quarterback Mackenzi Adams.
Stafford connected with Mohamed Massaquoi for his second touchdown pass of the game. The Commodores would respond with less than 30 seconds in the half, as Adams threw a touchdown pass to Jamie Graham. Georgia would enter halftime with a 14-7 lead.
Knowshon Moreno would score his lone touchdown of the day on Georgia’s first offensive possession in the second half, putting the Dawgs up 21-7. Vanderbilt would later score after intercepting Matthew Stafford in the middle of the third quarter. That would be the last points scored until Blair Walsh kicked a 39-yard field goal with 17 seconds left in the game to seal a 24-14 victory for Georgia.
Vanderbilt finished their season with a 7-6 record, and they won their first bowl game in 53 years when they defeated Boston College in the Music City Bowl.
Unfortunately for Georgia, they would lose to Florida and Georgia Tech later in the season, which kept them out of the SEC and BCS Championship conversation. They finished the year with a 10-3 record and a victory over Michigan State in the Capital One Bowl.