About, Behind and Between the Hedges

As generations of Bulldogs would tell you, there’s no line of shrubbery as iconic to sports as the hedges of the University of Georgia’s Sanford Stadium. The Chinese privet bushes – Ligustrum sinense, taxonomically speaking – that frame Dooley Field have seen every Georgia home game since 1929. 

For the third time in UGA history, the hedges were removed this February. They’ll be revitalized off-site ahead of the 2024 football season, including a full soil replacement, irrigation, and drainage work. The hedges will be replanted with plants of the same lineage in time for the 2024 G-Day game. 


The hedges’ storied history began in 1926 at the Rose Bowl, when a UGA Athletic Department employee noticed the red rosebushes surrounding the field. Meanwhile, back in Athens, UGA’s president at the time, Steadman V. Sanford, had started construction on what he hoped would become the best college football stadium in the South. 

The employee suggested that rosebushes be planted around the field, and the idea was received well – with one caveat. Rosebushes wouldn’t thrive in Athens’s climate. Fast-growing, hardy Chinese privet given to the university by an Atlanta donor would be planted instead. 

In 1929, the university sent the governor’s son, who was a UGA student, and his ROTC instructor to Atlanta in a khaki-green military truck to pick up the bushes. The truck, owned by the ROTC department, was the only vehicle in the university fleet large enough for the job. As the legend has it, the truck’s headlights went out on the way back and the ROTC instructor crawled onto the hood of the truck to light the way, clinging on with one hand and holding a flashlight with the other while the governor’s son drove. 

Once the truck arrived at the stadium, workers planted the hedges overnight with hours to spare until the next day’s game against Yale. The 1929 Georgia-Yale game was the first one played in newly dedicated Sanford Stadium. It was the largest athletic event ever held in the South at that time, with 30,000 fans and the governors of nine southern states in attendance – a fitting crowd for Georgia’s first victory Between the Hedges. 


Covering about 5,000 square feet around the playing field, the hedges take up a significant amount of sideline. This became an issue when Sanford Stadium was used to host soccer games for the 1996 Olympic Games held in Atlanta. Soccer fields are about 25 percent larger than football fields, so the hedges and a concrete walkway had to be briefly removed to create extra space. 

Healthy clippings from the hedges were taken to nurseries in Georgia and Florida run by UGA alumni, propagated into full plants and replanted after the Games in a ceremony featuring Georgia football legends and state politicians. 

“They’re the sons and daughters of the original hedges,” said the late coach Vince Dooley. 

The hedges were removed for a second time in 2017 for the construction of a new locker room and scoreboard on the West endzone. Each bush was numbered so it could be replanted exactly where it had been dug up. 


Five feet tall and five feet wide, the hedges – and the chain-link fence they conceal – have also served to protect the safety of fans, athletes and coaches over the years. Dooley Field has been stormed by fans only once, after a victory against the University of Tennessee in 2000. The hedges’ crowd control success has led to the installation of similar plantings at other stadiums around the country.

Today, maintaining the hedges is a labor of love. Chinese privet, considered an invasive weed in other parts of the country, grows at a rate of about three feet per year. A dedicated maintenance team, including students from the university’s turf program, work tirelessly throughout the football season to trim the hedges into their signature boxy shape. Armed with gas-powered trimmers, weed eaters and hand-held clippers, the job takes about two hours each time. 

When the hedges return to grace the sidelines of Sanford Stadium this spring, they’ll have been a Georgia football tradition for 95 years – you could say they’re some of the Bulldogs’ oldest supporters. 

Away Game Guide: Orange Bowl

Headed to Miami to cheer on the Dawgs as they face off with Florida State in the Orange Bowl? Check out this travel guide for all the best places to stay, eat and sightsee for your weekend in the sunshine state. 

This guide includes recommendations from Akil Kalathil (BS ’14), a Miami-based UGA alumnus. 

Where to stay 

Just one mile from Hard Rock Stadium, the Stadium Hotel is perfect for fans looking to be in the center of the action. The hotel offers event shuttles and has plenty of opportunities for family fun, including a large outdoor pool, mini-golf, a basketball court and an on-site sports bar and grill. 

Hard Rock Stadium is a little outside of Miami’s city center, so the nearest beaches are in the North Beach and Sunny Isles areas. Travelers on a budget can get the resort experience at the Ramada Plaza Marco Polo Beach Resort, a family-friendly resort with direct access to Sunny Isles Beach. The newly renovated Waterside Hotel, another beachside option, is decorated in a colorful retro-chic style. Lounge in their sunny pool courtyard or grab a drink at their daily free happy hour. 

Lounge poolside in the sunny courtyard of the Waterfront Hotel. (Photo: Waterfront Hotel)

Where to eat 

Miami Gardens, the neighborhood around Hard Rock Stadium, is known for having an excellent Caribbean soul food scene. Experience the local flavors at a no-fuss diner like Arline’s Restaurant & Seafood or have a more upscale experience at Yarumba, which becomes lively on weekend nights with live music and Latin DJs. 

The Licking, another casual Caribbean comfort food spot, is beloved by music industry celebrities including DJ Khaled, Flo Rida, Diddy and Nas–even Kylie Jenner has been spotted there! 

The Licking’s flavorful, seafood-forward menu has made it popular with Hollywood A-listers. (Photo: The Licking)

For a quick carry-out meal or sweet treat, make sure to stop by Hammond’s Bakery, a family-owned joint for Jamaican patties and freshly baked Caribbean pastries. Their special includes six patties with four pieces of coco bread, a sweet and starchy bread made with coconut milk, or you can take home some of their delicious pastries and cakes. 

On game day 

If you’re traveling to Miami but don’t have tickets to the game itself, enjoy watching it with other alumni at the alumni game watch party at American Social Brickell. The restaurant’s extensive menu features everything from bar classics like pretzels and beer cheese to upscale steaks, seafood and craft cocktails. 

American Social’s waterfront patio bar overlooks the Miami River. (Photo: American Social)

Another excellent game day option is Moxies, a globally inspired upscale casual restaurant with plenty of TVs to keep up with the game. The restaurant’s menu is sure to please every appetite, with dishes in many different culinary styles and vegetarian and vegan-friendly options. 

Miami attractions

In addition to enjoying Miami’s natural beauty at the beach or taking a trip outside the city to see the Everglades, visitors to Miami have plenty of opportunities for action-packed fun and exploring the city’s arts and culture. 

Topgolf, a golf gaming and dining experience, is located near Hard Rock Stadium. Paddleboards and jet skis are also available for rent throughout Miami Beach and are an exciting way to experience the city’s famous beaches from the water. 

For a more laid-back experience, consider immersing yourself in history and the arts at the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, a waterfront Gilded Age mansion built in the Italian style. Surrounded by lush gardens, the beautifully preserved historic home also has a café and gift shop with items inspired by the mansion and grounds.  

Wander in the lush, peaceful gardens of the Vizcaya museum. (Photo: Vizcaya)

Visitors to the Ancient Spanish Monastery have a unique chance to encounter European history in the heart of Miami. The monastery, which was originally built in 1141, was disassembled and shipped from Spain to Miami after it was purchased by newspaper titan William Randolph Hearst in 1925. The cloisters and outer buildings were painstakingly rebuilt brick by brick and reopened in the 1960s as a museum, and today the monastery has become a popular tourist attraction and wedding venue. 

Not making the trip to Miami and looking to connect with Dawgs in your own area? Find your local UGA alumni chapter and cheer on the Dawgs with fellow alumni at a game-watching party near you.


Tasty Tailgating: Honeysuckle Gelato’s Apple Blondies

Not sure what to make with all the apples you picked this fall? Try warm apple blondies with vanilla gelato. Filled with homemade cinnamon apples and brown butter for extra richness, these decadent desserts are sure to please a tailgate crowd–and you can make them again in place of apple pie at Thanksgiving! 

This recipe was provided by Wes Jones (BBA ’03), one of the co-founders of Honeysuckle Gelato. The company has been serving up Southern-inspired gelato at locations throughout the Southeast since it was founded in 2011. 

Apple Blondies

Apple Pie Filling 


6 medium Granny Smith Apples   

½ cup light brown sugar  

2 tsp cinnamon   

3 tbsp butter  

2 oz water  

1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch   

1 1/2 cups roasted pecan pieces (optional)  


  1. Core and slice apples into 1-inch pieces.  
  2. Melt butter and brown sugar in a thick bottomed pot over medium heat, then add the apples and stir to combine. Cook, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes.  
  3. Whisk cornstarch and water into a slurry and pour in, and then cook an additional minute.  
  4. Remove the pot from the heat and let cool. The apples should be cooked through, but still retain their shape. Stir in the pecans, if you choose to.   

Brown Butter Blondies


¾ cup butter  

1 ¾ cup light brown sugar (not packed)  

¼ cup skim milk powder   

1 extra large egg   

2 cups all purpose flour   

½ tbsp baking powder  

½ tsp sea salt   

1 tsp vanilla extract 


  1. In a thick bottomed pot, cook the butter over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, whisking frequently. Once it starts to foam and the color begins to darken, add the milk powder and stir rapidly for 30 seconds, then remove from heat.  
  2. Combine the butter and brown sugar with a whisk or stand mixer and allow to cool.  
  3. Whisk in the eggs and vanilla extract.  
  4. Sift in the remaining dry ingredients, one half at a time, and use a spatula to combine.  
  5. Preheat oven to 375°F. Add the apple filling into small (4-6 ounce) ramekins, filling just over half of the container.  
  6. Take 1 ½ tbsp of the blondie mixture, flatten into a disc just smaller than the circumference of the ramekin and place on top of the apples. Bake at 375° for 9 minutes.   
  7. Let cool for 10-15 minutes, then serve with a scoop of vanilla gelato on top. 

Mark Richt raises funds for Parkinson’s research

Led by former University of Georgia head football coach Mark Richt, the Chick-fil-A Dawg Bowl raised more than $758,000 for Parkinson’s disease and Crohn’s disease research at UGA. The fundraiser, which featured a VIP bowling event, rallied over 1,330 donors to support UGA research. 

“I am very grateful to Chick-fil-A, Coach Richt and the many generous donors who contributed to the university’s research efforts in these important areas over the past two weeks,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “Private support is essential to the kinds of cutting-edge research our faculty are conducting on Parkinson’s and related diseases, and the Chick-fil-A Dawg Bowl helps our researchers looking for new treatments and cures.” 

Coach Mark Richt catches up with former player David Pollack at the 2023 Chick-fil-A Dawg Bowl.

Richt announced the charity event at UGA head football coach Kirby Smart’s (BBA ’98) Monday press conference on Oct. 2. Donations poured in before, during and after the bowling event on Wednesday, Oct. 18.

During the bowling tournament, viewers tuned into the event’s livestream from home, watching Coach Richt and Bulldog greats such as Kirby Smart, David Pollack (M ’05) and Rennie Curran (BBA ’17) battle it out at Showtime Bowling Alley in Athens. Over the course of the tournament, donors gave $35,000.  

“My family and I want to sincerely thank the Bulldog Nation and all the donors who helped us take a bite out of Parkinson’s and Crohn’s,” Richt said. “I am so thankful to everyone who came out and supported in whatever way they could.” 

The fundraiser surpassed its initial goal of $750,000, and all proceeds will go to UGA’s Isakson Center for Neurological Disease Research. There, researchers such as Anumantha Kanthasamy, John H. “Johnny” Isakson Chair for Parkinson’s Research and Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar, are developing groundbreaking treatments for Parkinson’s disease and investigating its link to gut inflammation conditions such as Crohn’s disease.  

Coach Kirby Smart poses with Arthi Kanthasamy and Anumantha Kanthasamy, researchers in the UGA Isakson Center, at the 2023 Chick-fil-A Dawg Bowl event.

“Giving at this level can have a monumental impact on the research we are doing here at the university,” Kanthasamy said. “We are so grateful to the donors and the Richt family for everything they have done to support the Isakson Center.” 

The fight against Parkinson’s and Crohn’s is deeply personal for the Richt family. Coach Richt was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2021, and his granddaughter Jadyn was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease as an infant in 2015. Since then, the family has prioritized raising awareness and funds for research on potential causes and treatments for these conditions. 


Tasty Tailgating: Ivy Odom’s Bulldog Candy

If you’ve spent a lifetime in pursuit of the perfect game day bite, look no further: Ivy Odom’s spicy-sweet Bulldog Candy over a dollop of pimento cheese on a buttery cracker is unbeatable.

Ivy Odom (BSFCS ’15, AB ’15) is a senior lifestyle producer for Dotdash Meredith Food Studios and a member of the 2023 class of UGA 40 Under 40 honorees. You might recognize her from her Emmy-nominated lifestyle television program, the Southern Living show.

After completing her undergraduate degrees at UGA, Ivy graduated first in her culinary school program at L’Academie de Cuisine and completed an apprenticeship at an Atlanta fine dining restaurant. She started in the Time, Inc. test kitchen before taking on her current role at Dotdash Meredith and is an expert in all things Southern and delicious.

Bulldog Candy

Makes 1 cup

Total time: 25 minutes


12 oz. jalapeños, thinly sliced (about 2 ½ cups sliced)

1 fresno chile, chopped

½ cup packed light brown sugar

1 ½ tsp. apple cider vinegar

½ tsp. kosher salt


  1. Bring all ingredients to a boil in a small saucepan over medium high, stirring occasionally.
  2. Reduce heat to medium low and cook until jalapeños have turned dark in color, and all sugar has turned into a very thick syrup, about 15 minutes.
  3. Transfer to a glass jar and let cool to room temperature before storing in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.

Away Game Guide: Tennessee

If you’re headed to Rocky Top this year to cheer on the Dawgs in their annual tilt with the Tennessee Volunteers on Nov. 18, here’s a guide for where to stay, eat, and sightsee in the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains. 

Where to stay

The Graduate Hotel Knoxville is a boutique hotel with eclectic, locally-inspired décor. Their restaurant and bar, Saloon 16, is owned by Peyton Manning, who is frequently spotted there by patrons. The hotel chain has locations in college towns around the country—including Athens! 

Saloon 16’s Western-inspired decor was created in partnership with Peyton “The Sheriff” Manning. (Photo: The Graduate Knoxville)

The Oliver Hotel in downtown Knoxville is located in a historic building above Tupelo Honey, a regional chain restaurant known for delicious fried chicken and Southern favorites. For a luxurious experience, the grand Tennessean Hotel offers electric bikes to guests so they can explore Knoxville’s beautiful outdoor scenery with ease. 

Where to eat

Calhoun’s on the river serves barbecue and other casual American foods in their waterfront location in Knoxville’s historic district. The restaurant is accessible by boat and even has its own dock. 

Enjoy riverside barbecue on Calhouns’ outdoor deck. (Photo: Calhouns)

The Market Square district has many restaurants, bars and shops all within walking distance of one another. Cafe 4, located in the heart of Market Square, has an extensive list of cocktails made with syrups, shrubs, and mixes prepared in-house. The restaurant was part of Knoxville’s urban revitalization and has been dishing out American classics with a Southern flair and locally-roasted coffee for over 10 years.  

The Tomato Head, another Market Square favorite, serves fresh-made pizzas, sandwiches, cocktails and mocktails. The restaurant hosts monthly exhibits to support local artists and serves as a venue to musical acts, poetry readings, and performance art. 

On game day

Even if you don’t have a ticket, you can still watch the game alongside fellow Dawgs at a sports bar or restaurant in the area. 

The Hill Bar & Grill has views of the Sunspot and World’s Fair Park from its patio. They’ve won multiple awards for their wings, which have been voted best in Knoxville. 

Fieldhouse Social is a football-inspired bar and eatery with a massive TV perfect for watching the game.  

Knoxville attractions

The World’s Fair Park, initially created for the 1982 World’s Fair Exhibition with the theme “Energy Turns the World,” is one of the city’s most recognizable attractions. In addition to a large lawn and amphitheater, visitors can tour the Sunsphere, a sculptural tower and observation deck with views of the city. 

Maple Hall, a boutique bowling hall located in the historic J.C. Penney building, is one of the city’s most unique attractions. Upstairs, guests can enjoy craft drinks in the cozy cocktail lounge after they play. 

Maple Hall’s 11-lane bowling area is equipped with leather couches, a full bar, HDTVs from every angle and relaxing lounge areas. (Photo: Maple Hall)

Not making the trip to Knoxville and looking to connect with Dawgs in your own area? Find your local UGA alumni chapter and cheer on the Dawgs with fellow alumni at a game-watching party near you. 


Alumni Profile: D.J. Shockley – Signal Caller


History of the Rivalry: Tennessee

Larry Munson is one of the all-time greats in college football commentating, and his legendary career covering the Georgia Bulldogs—from 1966 to 2008—made him as central to UGA’s football history as Vince Dooley. Munson’s highlight reel spans decades and includes dozens of teams, but two of his most legendary calls signaled the start of new eras of Georgia football. And they came against the same opponent: Tennessee.

Munson’s calls made those games legendary, but even without a freshman “running over people” or a “hobnail boot,” games in the Georgia-Tennessee series were destined to have iconic moments. After all, we’re talking about the second and third winningest football programs in SEC history.

A Coronation in Knoxville

Perhaps the strangest thing about this rivalry is that, despite having played each other since 1899, despite being founding members of the Southeastern Conference and despite the schools’ campuses being separated by less than 150 miles, the Dawgs and the Vols have only met 50 times. Compare that to Georgia and Auburn, who started playing each other in 1892, but have met 126 times.

By 1980, the Bulldogs and Volunteers had only met 17 times, with Tennessee holding a one-game lead in the rivalry: 8-7-2. Georgia went to Knoxville to open the 1980 season, and the hopes they had to tie the series faded quickly. The Dawgs found themselves down 9-0 quickly, and their offense couldn’t sustain a drive. Vince Dooley knew his team of upperclassmen was strong at a number of positions, but tailback wasn’t one of them, and the early results here had proven that. So, he made a change.

The impact of that decision wouldn’t become clear until the second half, when Tennessee extended their lead to 15. No one knew it then, but that was the end of their scoring, and the beginning of Georgia’s season. Freshman Herschel Walker, who had spent the second quarter feeling out the defense and getting up to game speed, broke out in the second half and announced himself to the world with the Bulldogs’ first touchdown of 1980, immortalized by Larry Munson.

A safety and another Herschel touchdown later, UGA stunned the Knoxville crowd, pulled even in the series with the Vols and began their march to a national championship.

11 years, 11 points and a lot of praying

In 2000, Jim Donnan was in his fifth season as UGA head coach and in the proverbial hot seat. At most schools, a record of 32-15 doesn’t put you in trouble. But at Georgia, when that 32-15 contains a 5-11 record against Florida, Tennessee, Auburn and Georgia Tech, your record against everybody else means a lot less. Nevertheless, UGA started the 2000 season with a 3-1 record heading into a home game against Tennessee, who owned a nine-game winning streak over the Dawgs.

Tennessee was 2-2, with losses to no. 6 Florida and an unranked LSU team. This was out of character for the Vols, who were just two years removed from a national championship, and their ranking tumbled to 21. Still, they had no fear of the no. 19 Bulldogs. After spending nearly every year of the 90s beating Georgia, why would they?

They found the why by halftime, when Georgia took a 7-3 lead into the locker room thanks to a stifling defense. After the half, Tennessee scored to take the lead, 10-7. But Georgia answered with a Jasper Sanks rushing TD, then ended the discussion in the fourth quarter with a Musa Smith touchdown and Tim Wansley’s second interception of the day with less than two minutes remaining.

The feeling of impending victory over the Vols, foreign to Bulldog fans for over a decade, was too much for many in attendance. The raucous crowd began to spill onto the field after the game-sealing interception, and play had to be halted until the crowd could be removed.  Security kept the fans under control until the final whistle.

It was dramatic, it ended Tennessee’s dominance over UGA and it marked the only time the goal posts were torn down in Sanford Stadium’s history. But many may not remember this game, because by season’s end, there was much more this game did NOT do than what it did do. It did not spark a magical season for the Dawgs. It did not save Jim Donnan’s job. It did not herald the arrival of a new era.

Bulldog fans would have to wait a year for that.

“Another Hobnail Boot?”

Richt’s tenure at Georgia wouldn’t be quite as dominant as the Tennessee streak that preceded him, but he certainly leveled out the rivalry before his 2015 departure: Richt went 10-5 against the Vols from 2001 – 2015, bringing the all-time series record to 21 Georgia wins, 22 Tennessee wins, and 2 ties.

When Kirby Smart arrived in Athens, Knoxville had been in disarray for some time. Lane Kiffin’s ignominious midnight exit, Derek Dooley’s poor results and Butch Jones’ big game struggles all kept the Vols from coming close to their former glory. But in 2016, Tennessee was fresh off a bowl win over the no. 12 Northwestern Wildcats, they had brought in a top-20 recruiting class, and it looked as if they might finally be pulling things together.

They were 4-0 coming into a week 5 game in Athens, including a win over no. 19 Florida the week before. Georgia was 3-1 and had just been blown out by Ole Miss, a loss that nearly saw them fall from the top 25.

Smart had prepared his team well, taking a 17-7 lead into halftime. But in the second half, the Volunteers outscored the Dawgs 21-7. After multiple miscues, Georgia finally managed to string together a drive as the final minute wound down, and with 10 seconds left, down 28-24, Jacob Eason found Riley Ridley for a 47-yard touchdown pass that gave the Bulldogs the lead.

A short kickoff was returned by Tennessee to midfield, and with four seconds left, the Vols turned a heart-stopping Georgia win into a heartbreaking loss.

This one stung for Georgia fans, and it stung even more when Tennessee rattled off three consecutive losses after this: no. 8 Texas A&M, no. 1 Alabama, and unranked South Carolina, who Georgia would beat in week 6.

That sting lasted exactly one year. Because in 2017 and every year since, the Bulldogs have beaten the Volunteers by no fewer than 23 points. This is the most dominant stretch of games in the history of this rivalry, which now stands at 26-23-2 in the Bulldogs’ favor.

So, if we understand a “Hobnail Boot” play to be one that signifies a dramatic, come-from-behind game-winner that ushers in a changing of the guard, then when Gary Danielson called Tennessee’s 2016 Hail Mary “another Hobnail Boot,” he did Mr. Munson a great, great disservice.

Today, Josh Heupel is the Volunteers’ head coach, Tennessee’s sixth in 15 years. Last year,  UT came into Athens with all the hype in the world, fueled by the potent offense of Hendon Hooker, Jalin Hyatt and Cedric Tillman. But from the first whistle, the Bulldogs figured out the dynamic offense that felled Alabama and earned lavish national praise and extended the Dawgs’ win streak in the series to a record six—surpassing a win-streak record that had stood for just under a century. 

 Just a few short years ago, the UGA-UT rivalry was barely significant, but national spotlights are shining on these contests once again. For now, the Bulldogs maintain a firm grip on the series, but with a resurgent program igniting the long dormant Volunteer fan base, we’re going to see the best shot Tennessee can muster when the Dawgs enter a raucous Neyland Stadium on Nov. 18. Hopefully, this trip goes as well as the one 21 years ago. 

Your one-stop shop for UGA football fandom is alumni.uga.edu/football! Check in every week for new football blogs and videos, information on UGA Alumni events, and more.

History of the Rivalry: Florida

The University of Georgia Bulldogs once kicked off from their own 8-yard line. This wasn’t at a time when the rules of football were dramatically different, nor was it the result of player error. The Dawgs kicked off in the shadow of their own goal posts by choice.

It was so important that they thumb their nose at their opponent and break the rules of the game that they said, “Fine. Put the ball wherever.”

What drives a team to this point? Winning at this level of college football requires scratching out every last tiny advantage, but UGA was willing to give up nearly 30 yards of field position in the first quarter of a game against a hated rival.

Why? It’s a long answer, over a century old, but it’s the reason the Georgia-Florida rivalry is one of the best in sports. And while there are dozens of moments one could point to, we’ll isolate three pivotal snapshots in the series.

Our villain’s origin story

 It’s 4th and 8 for the Gators. Down 20-10 against the Bulldogs, they’re on their own 25 with time running out. Stephen Spurrier is under center, the senior quarterback responsible for so many great Gator moments. Just last week, he had mounted a heroic, fourth-quarter drive against Auburn and kicked the game-winning field goal himself, practically cementing his place as the 1966 Heisman frontrunner.

The seventh-ranked Gators needed some of those heroics now, but Spurrier was having a bad day—multiple sacks and three interceptions—and he had always struggled in Jacksonville, having gone 1-1 against the Bulldogs, who were on the rise under third-year coach Vince Dooley.

Florida’s first undefeated season, a shot at their first SEC Championship, and the pride of having conquered the hated Bulldogs all hung in the balance for Spurrier on this fourth down.

The ball is snapped, and almost immediately Georgia’s pass rush is in his face. But Spurrier spots a receiver dashing for the first down marker. He finds his man two yards from a new set of downs and a sliver of hope. In an instant, three red shirts appear and topple Florida’s hopes.

Just like that, it was over: no undefeated season, likely no SEC title, and a losing record for Spurrier in his playing career against the Bulldogs.

In a post-game interview, Spurrier said, “I’ve never had a good day in the Gator Bowl and I guess I never will. It’s a jinx place for me.”

The Bulldogs couldn’t know it then, but embarrassing the hyper-competitive Spurrier here planted a seed. What grew out of it, nearly a quarter century later, would give the Gators everything they ever wanted and give the Bulldogs an archnemesis for the ages.

Reasons to destroy some property

After Spurrier left Gainesville, the Dawgs took control of the series, going 16-6-1 from 1967 – 1989. The Gators were no pushovers during this stretch: Ten times in those 23 games, the Gators came to Jacksonville ranked, and only once did they walk away with a victory. This run included perhaps the most well-known moment of the Georgia-Florida series.

But in 1990, Florida called their Heisman winner home, and the impact was immediate: The Gators went from 7-5 in 1989 to 9-2 in 1990. Meanwhile, Georgia was in its second year under Ray Goff, who had been named head coach after Vince Dooley retired in 1988. In ’89, Goff’s Dawgs could only reach 6-6, but they did get a win over Florida.

That was Goff’s last victory over the Gators. Spurrier and his Florida teams began their ascent, and Georgia—despite going 9-3 in ’91 and 10-2 in ’92—got swallowed in the Gators’ wake. And in 1995, it all came to a head.

In the mid-90s, Jacksonville’s stadium was being rebuilt to prepare for the Jacksonville Jaguars, so the Georgia-Florida game moved to each team’s home stadium for the ’94 and ’95 seasons. The 1994 game was played in Gainesville, where the Gators romped, winning 52-14. In 1995, things didn’t look much better. The Gators, back-to-back SEC champs, came to Athens with two wins over top-10 teams, while Georgia had not beaten a ranked team since January 1993.

So, on October 28, 1995, the Gators walked into Sanford Stadium for the first time in 63 years, and things played out exactly as you’d expect. Future Heisman-winner Danny Wuerffel threw 5 touchdowns before leaving the game in the third quarter. His backup would throw two more and bring the final score to 52-17.

It remains the record for points allowed by the Bulldogs at home. Legend has it that Spurrier stated after the game that he had wanted to “hang half a hundred” on Georgia because “we heard no one had ever done that before.”

This account is disputed by Spurrier, but whether it’s true or not, he exacted humiliating revenge on the Bulldogs that night, a highlight for his Florida coaching career, which ended in 2001 with 6 SEC titles, a national championship and an 11-1 record against Georgia.

“And here comes the entire team!”

The 2001 season began with a new head coach for UGA, Mark Richt—formerly the offensive coordinator for some of Bobby Bowden’s best Florida State teams—and it ended with Steve Spurrier’s departure from Florida.

Richt would quickly re-establish UGA as a contender, winning the SEC in 2002 and 2005, but he could not find consistent success against the Gators. This was especially frustrating for Georgia fans who watched Ron Zook, Spurrier’s successor, win no more than 8 games every year.

Things became even more frustrating when, after Richt’s first win against Florida in 2004, the Gators fired Zook and hired Urban Meyer, who immediately returned UF to their Bulldog-beating ways and won a national title in year two.

This brings us back to the start of our story. By 2007, Richt had more SEC titles (2) than he had wins against Florida (1). And with a trip to Jacksonville to play the defending national champions looming, Richt and every other Bulldog on Earth was well aware that the Dawgs were 2-15 against Florida since 1990.

Richt knew the Dawgs needed something, anything, to shake off this bad juju and inject some swagger into their game if they hoped to compete with the Gator Goliath. In the week leading up to the game, he told his team: after our first touchdown, celebrate so much that you get a penalty.

So, when Knowshon Moreno leapt over a pile of bodies to score the first touchdown of the game midway through the first quarter, the entire offense celebrated in the end zone. Eleven Bulldogs quickly turned into 53 as the Georgia sideline migrated as one into the endzone.

Nearly every referee on the field hurled a yellow flag into the air as Georgia players jumped, screamed, danced, posed, chest-thumped and fist-pumped in the end zone.

It felt like a dam breaking. Decades of nerves, doom-saying and head-shaking all shaken off with one exuberant moment. The Gators answered back with a touchdown almost immediately, but it didn’t matter: the “Gator Stomp” was such an unexpected, audacious and spirited action that the Gators flinched, and Georgia knew that was all they needed.

UGA won, 42-30, and the brazen celebration launched them to finish the season as the no. 3 team in the nation. Even when Florida won the next three matches, often by a great margin, the Gators knew Georgia could no longer be counted on to dutifully suffer through their Jacksonville trip on the way to a 9-3 record and a good-not-great bowl game.

Florida knew now that if you weren’t careful, the Bulldogs would stomp you.

Since the Gator Stomp, the Georgia-Florida series has been close to even, with Georgia taking nine games to Florida’s seven. However, since Kirby Smart’s return to Athens in 2016, the Dawgs have taken seven games to the Gators’ two. Georgia is at the height of its powers after back-to-back national championship titles, and Napier is working to rekindle hope in the hearts of Florida fans, so expect a classic Georgia-Florida contest: a charged battle between two well-acquainted foes with championship aspirations. 

One of whom wears jean shorts.

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Previewing the Georgia Bulldogs’ 2023 football schedule

As the College Football Playoff prepares to expand its field to 12 and the SEC grows its ranks to 16, the University of Georgia hopes to expand its championship tally in a historic way.

A third consecutive national championship would make Kirby Smart’s Georgia Bulldogs the first team with that distinction since the 1930s. But standing between them and college football history is a slate of teams eager to knock off the back-to-back champions.

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University of Tennessee at Martin

UT-Martin Skyhawks

Sanford Stadium – Athens, GA
Sept. 2 @ 6 p.m. – SEC Network+/ESPN+

The Skyhawks play in the Football Championship Subdivision’s Ohio Valley Conference, so this should be a nice tune-up for the Dawgs. Fun fact: a former UT Martin player, Ray Williams, currently holds the world record for heaviest drug-tested, raw squat at 1,080 pounds. That’s three UGA offensive linemen, with about 100 pounds to spare.

Ball State

Ball State Cardinals

Sanford Stadium – Athens, GA
Sept. 9 @ Noon – SEC Network

This will be the first meeting between the Bulldogs and the Cardinals, who come from Muncie, Indiana. Ball State, a member of the Mid-American Conference, is coming off of a 5-7 season, so this game gives Kirby Smart and company one more chance to explore the roster and prepare for conference play in Week 3.

South Carolina

Sanford Stadium – Athens, GA
Sept. 16 @ 3:30 p.m. – CBS

The Gamecocks once again appear to be a solid team poised to take down an unsuspecting front runner or two. With quarterback Spencer Rattler returning for his final season, head coach Shane Beamer has a dynamic weapon who appeared to find his rhythm at the end of 2022. Pair that with a couple of young playmakers in the defensive secondary, and South Carolina could frustrate Georgia’s early season.

University of Alabama at Birmingham

Sanford Stadium – Athens, GA
Sept. 23 @ TBD – TBD

The last contest in Georgia’s season-opening, four-game home stand brings the Blazers to Sanford Stadium. UAB’s last appearance in Athens resulted in a 56-7 win for the Dawgs in 2021. The Blazers will still be figuring out exactly what they’ve got in first-year coach Trent Dilfer, and the Bulldogs will take a deep breath before diving into the bulk of their SEC schedule.


Jordan-Hare Stadium – Auburn, AL
Sept. 30 @ TBD – TBD

Auburn Tigers

Last year, chaos in the program led the Tigers to a season to forget. New head coach Hugh Freeze brings in an offense that will give the Plainsmen a fresh look and, Auburn fans hope, the spark they need to get closer to even footing with their two championship-caliber rivals. The Tigers have bright spots—running back, offensive line, defensive backfield—but the ongoing renovation may lower their ceiling.


Sanford Stadium – Athens, GA
Oct. 7 @ TBD – TBD

Kentucky Wildcats

Despite having a second-round draft pick under center, last year’s Wildcats underperformed. And while Will Levis is gone, offensive coordinator Liam Cohen returns to Lexington from the NFL and could provide a boost for Big Blue Nation. Also, Levis was replaced by Devin Leary, a transfer from North Carolina State and a talented, experienced QB. As is typical for Stoops’ Kentucky teams, the defense looks solid. Lots of things point to a bounceback year for the ‘Cats.


FirstBank Stadium – Nashville, TN
Oct. 14 @ TBD – TBD

Vanderbilt Commodores

Clark Lea is doing exactly what he needs to do in Nashville. No, they’re not contending for the crown in the east, but they are steadily trending upwards and, after last year, they’ve got a few impressive pelts on the wall. Vandy might be bowl-bound once again, but they’re still far from threatening the Dawgs.

Bye Week

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TIAA Bank Field – Jacksonville, FL
Oct. 28 @ 3:30 p.m. – CBS

Florida Gators

Year one under head coach Billy Napier pretty clearly did not go the way Florida fans wanted. Napier has stressed again and again that rebuilding in Gainesville will take time, and that probably means more than two years. Yes, the Gators have racked up some recruiting wins of late, their running backs are strong, and they’ve retooled last year’s woeful defense. But the presumptive Anthony Richardson replacement is Graham Mertz, the former Wisconsin QB who was notoriously inconsistent, and their offensive line was hit hard by the draft and the transfer portal.


Sanford Stadium – Athens, GA
Nov. 4 @ TBD – TBD

Missouri Tigers

This feels like a do-or-die year in Columbia for head coach Eli Drinkwitz. Mizzou has been stagnant for years, save a few recruiting wins like defensive back Ennis Rakestraw and wide receiver Luther Burden. Without a dramatic improvement—and Tigers fans might regard a fourth-place finish as such—the Drinkwitz era may be coming to a close. If there’s hope to be found for the Tigers, it’s on the defensive side, where they return the vast majority of last year’s strong unit.

Ole Miss

Sanford Stadium – Athens, GA
Nov. 11 @ TBD – TBD

Ole Miss RebelsThe last time Georgia played Ole Miss, the Rebels gave Kirby Smart the worst loss, by point margin, of his career. The Rebs had one of the most potent rushing attacks in the country last year, and most of that offense returns this year—led by impressive sophomore running back Quinshon Judkins and junior quarterback Jaxson Dart. Ole Miss’ defense is now led by former Alabama defensive coordinator Pete Golding, who many expect to improve on last year’s lackluster unit, but we’ll see just how well the players adapt to a new scheme.


Neyland Stadium – Knoxville, TN
Nov. 18 @ TBD – TBD

Tennessee Volunteers

If the Vols and the Dawgs make it to this point in their schedule without a loss, this will be the game of the season—for all of college football. Expect to hear a lot about this one early on, and if Josh Heupel’s offense continues to blow past opponents, particularly with a new offensive coordinator and new quarterback Joe Milton, expect to hear about it all the way through the season. If the crowd in Knoxville can do this year what the crowd in Athens did last year, this could be a real test for the Bulldogs.

Georgia Tech

Bobby Dodd Stadium at Hyundai Field – Atlanta, GA
Nov. 25 @ TBD – TBD

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

As of this writing, Tech fans seem satisfied with new head coach Brent Key. Granted, after Geoff Collins, he needed to do little more than be a thorn in Georgia’s paw to gain that satisfaction, but that’s exactly what he did in 2022. Flipping the script and taking a game from the Dawgs would be nothing short of miraculous. But rivalry games have a special kind of magic—even if the term rivalry is used generously here—so we won’t totally discount the possibility.


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