21. Georgia 19 vs. Auburn 14 – Nov. 13, 1982
How I Remember It: I was six months old when this game was played, but I think I remember a feeling of defeat in my crib. I know Georgia was #1 in the nation at the time, won the SEC that year, and Herschel Walker won the Heisman trophy. Other than that, all I know is that Auburn played a close game against one of the best teams in the nation.
What Really Happened: The Vince Dooley-led Georgia Bulldogs came into Jordan-Hare ranked #1 in the nation needing to beat the Tigers to claim their 3rd straight SEC championship. Junior Herschel Walker was also on his way towards the winning the Heisman Trophy.
Auburn came into the game with a 7-2 record and 3-1 SEC mark. The second season with Pat Dye at the helm was winding down with the Tigers showing major improvement from year one to year two.
Georgia took an early 3-0 lead before Randy Campbell lead the Tigers down the field, capping the drive with a rushing touchdown on a bootleg. Herschel would then score on a 47-yard run in the 2nd to make the score 10-7 at the half.
Going into the 4th, Georgia led 13-7, but on the third play of the quarter, Lionel James rushed 87 yards to give Auburn the 14-13 lead. The Tigers held on to the lead until the midway point of the quarter, when the Bulldogs drove 80 yards, ending on a 3-yard run by Walker to take the lead 19-14. Apparently Georgia missed the PAT, but I couldn’t find a box score to verify.
Auburn would then drive down to the Bulldogs’ 14 yard line, but a few penalties and incompletions, as seen in the painful video below, ended the threat to win it at the last second.
Fun Fact (for UGA fans): With 177 yards in the game, Herschel Walker became the first junior to surpass 5,000 career yards. Bo Jackson is still better though.
Why did I pick this game? Not only was this a great performance by one of Pat Dye’s first teams at Auburn, against the best team in the nation, with the best player in the nation, it was also the game that most would say was the turning point of Dye’s Auburn career. This game showed that he had Auburn football back on the right track, and would soon be able to not only compete with the best, but be able to beat the best.
Play of the Game: Lionel James’s 87-yard run in early in the 4th quarter gave Auburn the lead over the #1 Bulldogs.
Player of the Game: There aren’t many stats out there, but Randy Campbell seemed to dominate on the first scoring drive, so he’ll take this one.
Quote of the Game: “This is the best football team we have played this year.” – Vince Dooley
National stories: AP
Painful video to watch:
The rest of the Top 30: