1981 Georgia Bulldogs football team
|1981 Georgia Bulldogs football|
|1981 record||10–2 (6–0 SEC)|
|Head coach||Vince Dooley (18th season)|
|Home stadium||Sanford Stadium (82,122)|
|1981 SEC football standings|
|No. 7 Alabama +||6||–||0||–||0||9||–||2||–||1|
|No. 6 Georgia +||6||–||0||–||0||10||–||2||–||0|
Rankings from AP Poll
|September 5||Tennessee||No. 10||Sanford Stadium • Athens, Georgia||W 44–0||79,600|
|September 12||California*||No. 6||Sanford Stadium • Athens, Georgia||W 27–13||79,400|
|September 19||at Clemson*||No. 4||Memorial Stadium • Clemson, South Carolina (Rivalry)||L 3–13||62,466|
|September 26||South Carolina*||No. 17||Sanford Stadium • Athens, Georgia (Rivalry)||W 24–0||82,100|
|October 10||at Ole Miss||No. 11||Vaught–Hemingway Stadium • Oxford, Mississippi||W 37–7||41,125|
|October 17||at Vanderbilt||No. 9||Dudley Field • Nashville, Tennessee (Rivalry)||ABC||W 53–21||39,657|
|October 24||Kentucky||No. 7||Sanford Stadium • Athens, Georgia||W 21–0||80,780|
|October 31||Temple*||No. 5||Sanford Stadium • Athens, Georgia||W 49–3||80,117|
|November 7||vs. Florida||No. 4||Gator Bowl Stadium • Jacksonville, Florida (Rivalry)||ABC||W 26–21||68,648|
|November 14||Auburn||No. 4||Sanford Stadium • Athens, Georgia (Deep South's Oldest Rivalry)||W 24–13||82,165|
|December 5||at Georgia Tech*||No. 2||Grant Field • Atlanta (Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate)||ABC||W 44–7||58,623|
|January 1||vs. No. 8 Pittsburgh*||No. 2||Louisiana Superdome • New Orleans (Sugar Bowl)||ABC||L 20–24||77,224|
|*Non-conference game. Homecoming. #Rankings from Coaches' Poll released prior to game.|
The momentum of 1980 continued into September 1981 for the Georgia Bulldogs as Herschel Walker and company took control early in the season by scoring early and often in wins against Tennessee (44–0) and the Cal Golden Bears (27–13). Against the Volunteers, Walker rushed for 161 yards on 30 carries.[n 1]
Walker pounded California by rushing 35 times for 167 yards on September 12.
After hitting a dip in the season, losing 13–3 to eventual national champion Clemson, Georgia regained its focus and won out to get to 10–1 by the regular season's end. Even though Walker was able to push, shove, and get through Clemson's defense by rushing 28 times for 111 yards, it wasn't enough to overcome 9 turnovers by the Bulldogs in the loss to the Tigers.
Georgia and Walker rebounded by blanking South Carolina, 24–0, on September 26 as the sophomore running back ran for 176 yards on 36 carries. Georgia, however, only led 3–0 at the half. Walker opened things up for the Bulldogs in the third quarter by scoring on touchdown runs of 3 and 8 yards to put the Gamecocks away.
Walker's Bulldogs reeled off solid wins—all in October—over Ole Miss (37-7), Vanderbilt (53-21), Kentucky (21-0), and Temple (49-3). He rushed for a season-high 265 yards on 41 attempts and a touchdown against Mississippi on October 10.
A week later, Walker rushed 39 times for 188 yards and 2 touchdowns versus Vanderbilt.
Against Temple, he scored a career-high 4 touchdowns while rushing 23 times for 112 yards against the Owls.
On November 7, seventh-ranked Georgia got behind, 14–0, down in Jacksonville, to the Florida Gators, but came back to win in a repeat score of last season's game, 26–21. Walker rushed a career-high 47 times for 192 yards while scoring four touchdowns.
The Bulldogs finished out the regular season at home against nearby rivals: the Auburn Tigers (November 14) and the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (December 5). The 24–13 win over coach Pat Dye's Tigers clinched a 2nd SEC Championship in a row for Georgia. In the third quarter, Walker's 2-yard touchdown run gave the Bulldogs a commanding 24–7 lead. Walker pounded out 165 yards on 37 rushes during the contest. Georgia led Auburn 17-7 at the half as senior quarterback Buck Belue complimented Walker's power ground game by throwing for two touchdowns.
Against Georgia Tech, seniors Belue and Scott set the tone on the game's first play by hooking up on an 80-yard pass as Scott raced into the end zone to spark a 34–0 halftime lead. Walker got into the act by scoring three touchdowns in the first half. He added a 1-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter as Georgia cruised past the Yellow Jackets, 44–7. Walker finished with 36 rushes for 225 yards and 4 touchdowns in the rivalry matchup.
Riding an 8-game winning streak, Georgia (10–1) was ranked No. 2 in the country when they faced Pittsburgh (also 10–1, ranked No. 10) in the 1982 Sugar Bowl. Walker made his presence felt early as he bolted 8 yards for a touchdown in the 2nd quarter giving Georgia a 7–0 lead. After a 30-yard, Dan Marino touchdown pass lifted Pitt to a 10-7 lead in third quarter, Walker answered. Walker scored from 10 yards out to give Georgia a 14–10 lead going into the 4th quarter. With Georgia clinging to a 20–17 lead late in the game, Marino found Pittsburgh's receiver John Brown for a 33-yard touchdown pass with 0:35 left in the game. Walker's Bulldogs came up short in the loss, 20–24. He finished with 25 rushes for 84 yards and led UGA in receptions with 3 catches for 53 yards.
- A long, 47-yard touchdown run was wiped out by a clipping penalty.
- Outlar, Jessie (September 6, 1981). "The Beat Goes On...Georgia 44, Tennessee 0". The Atlanta Journal-The Atlanta Constitution. Atlanta, Georgia. pp. 1C, 10C. Retrieved September 16, 2013.
- "Clemson Steals 13-3 Upset Win Over Georgia". Gainesville Sun. Gainesville, Florida. September 20, 1981. p. 6D. Retrieved February 1, 2013.
- "Georgia thumps Gamecocks". Star-News. Wilmington, N.C. September 27, 1981. p. 4D. Retrieved February 1, 2013.
- Nissenson, Herschel (November 7, 1981). "College Football Roundup--Allen, McMahon, Northwestern Set Records". Schenectady Gazette. Schenectady, N.Y. p. 38. Retrieved February 1, 2013.
- Eugene Register-Guard. 1981 Nov 15.
- "Dooley says 'Dogs deserve Sugar bid". The Tuscaloosa News. Tuscaloosa, Ala. November 15, 1981. pp. 2B, 3B. Retrieved February 1, 2013.
- Shearer, Ed (December 6, 1981). "Walker wrecks Tech, 44-7". Gadsden Times. Gadsden, Ala. p. 17. Retrieved February 1, 2013.
- "Pittsburgh Nips Georgia In Sugar Bowl, 24-20". The News and Courier. Charleston, South Carolina. January 2, 1982. p. 1-C. Retrieved February 1, 2013.
- "Pitt Dashes Bulldogs Hopes 24-20, In 1982 Sugar Bowl". GEORGIA BULLDOG FOOTBALL – 1984. Sports Information Office – Georgia Athletic Dept. – The University of Georgia: 100. 1984. Archived from the original on January 18, 2013. Retrieved September 16, 2013.