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The Best Games Of The Kirby Smart Era

Kirby Smart Games

With the Georgia game no longer happening this weekend, Bulldogs fans might be looking for something else to watch. They could always tune into the games being played, but a lot of the other intriguing games have been called off as well. So, why not sit down and watch through some of the best games so far in the Kirby Smart era? 

Currently in his 5th season as Georgia’s head coach, Smart has produced some memorable moments so far in his tenure. An SEC Championship, a couple of major bowl wins, and a shot at the National Championship have highlighted the head man’s time in Athens.

Honorable Mentions

Starting out with the honorable mentions, there are a handful of games that are just outside of the top 5, but deserves a watch if you have some time. The earliest game in the honorable mentions is the 2017 game in Neyland Stadium against Tennessee. The 41-0 victory was the first time since 1994 that Tennessee had been shut-out. The game was also the 800th victory in the program’s history. The victory is fun to watch for Bulldogs fans, but the red and black invasion of Tennessee’s home is something even more appealing to watch as a Georgia fan.

Heading to 2018, the first game on the agenda is the 36-17 win over Florida. Going in, the game was set as a Top 10 matchup. Jacksonville was also chosen as the site of ESPN’s College Gameday. The game did not stay as close as expected, but the atmosphere was fantastic throughout. Closing the 2018 regular season, the Bulldogs went to Atlanta to face in-state rivals Georgia Tech. The game would result in a 52-7 win for Georgia. That is good enough for the largest Georgia victory in the series and the second-largest margin overall. The game also featuring the now infamous George Pickens fight. 

Finally, 2019 featured another good matchup between Georgia and Florida. For the second straight game, the meeting was a Top 10 matchup and the host of College Gameday. This one was much closer and finished as a 24-17 victory for Georgia. Georgia led 16-3 before Kyle Trask and company attempted to lead a comeback before falling just short. Any of these games would be a solid pick when talking about some of the best games of time that Kirby Smart has been in Athens.

5. 2018 National Championship Game

This is one that Georgia fans are still trying to wash from their memory. However, playing for a national title is always a major milestone for any program. Add in an incredibly close game that came down to the wire in overtime and you have the recipe for a game that should be rewatched at least once by any Georgia fan. 

In this game, Georgia infamously led 13-0 at the half. However, after coming out of the locker rooms in the second half, Alabama head coach made the decision to bench Jalen Hurts and put Tua Tagovailoa into the game. Tagovailoa would throw three touchdown passes, including the one that hurts Bulldog fans the most: a 41-yard touchdown on 2nd and 26 in overtime. 

Georgia folk hero Rodrigo Blankenship scored 11 of Georgia’s 23 points, but ultimately the Bulldogs would fall short 26-23 in overtime. If you are looking for something that is going to make you feel a roller coaster of emotions as a Georgia fan, this is the game to re-watch.

4. 2019 vs Notre Dame

The third ever meeting between these two teams, and the first in Athens, was once again an instant classic. The two storied programs met in Sanford Stadium for a week four matchup in front of more than 93,000 fans. The game was CBS’s SEC Game of the Week. Athens was also the site of ESPN’s College Gameday. One of the few times that Georgia plays a home game under the lights, this one is a game that every Georgia fan has locked in their memory from these last few years.

Jake Fromm threw one touchdown pass to Lawerence Cager. The other Georgia touchdown came on the ground from D’Andre Swift. On the other side, both touchdowns for the Fighting Irish were from their aerial attack, courtesy of quarterback Ian Book. 

The meeting between two top ten teams came all the way down to the wire, as Notre Dame had the ball with just 1:12 to go. The Fighting Irish would turn it over on downs and the Bulldogs would survive with a 23-17 win.

3. 2017 SEC Championship Game

Unlike the National Championship game in the same season, the Bulldogs walked away from this contest with some hardware. In the first SEC Championship Game held inside of the Mercedes Benz Stadium, the #2 Auburn Tigers faced the #6 Georgia Bulldogs. It was a rematch of a game just three weeks prior when the Tigers had better the then top-ranked Bulldogs 40-17. However, fortunes would be flipped in the subsequent meeting.

Auburn scored on the very first drive of the game, courtesy of a Jarrett Stidham touchdown pass. That was the last time they would score any points for the rest of the game, as the Bulldogs took control and never gave it up with a 28-7 win. Fromm would score twice through the air, as the Bulldogs exacted their revenge on their rivals. The game is also special for many Georgia fans, as it punched the Bulldogs ticket to the College Football Playoff for the first and, so far, only time in school history. 

2. 2017 at Notre Dame

The first game of a home and home series with the Fighting Irish, this one was a doozy. For the first time in 50 years, the Bulldogs took a trip north of the Mason-Dixon Line. It was also just the second meeting between the two schools, with the first coming in the 1981 Sugar Bowl, where Georgia won their most recent National Championship. Notre Dame Stadium was filled to its capacity of more than 77,000 fans.

The game was a meeting of two Top 25 teams. It was also one of the most anticipated games of the year heading into the season. It was a matchup that certainly did not disappoint either. Notre Dame had the lead or was tied for most of the game. The Bulldogs did not take the lead for the first time until late in the third quarter following a Sony Michel touchdown run. Notre Dame would answer in the fourth. Ultimately, a Blankenship field goal followed by a Davin Bellamy and Lorenzo Carter strip-sack and recovery would win the game, 20-19. This is one of the games that is without a doubt a highlight of the Kirby Smart era so far.

1. 2018 Rose Bowl

There were a lot of moments from this season on this list, and rightfully so. This team was one of the most talented that Georgia has seen in a long time. It all came to a head on New Year’s Day in 2018. The #2 Oklahoma Sooners faced the #3 Georgia Bulldogs in Pasadena for a spot in the National Championship game in front of more the 92,000 fans. Oklahoma seemed to be in control early, but a Blankenship field goal as time expired in the first half changed all the momentum. Georgia still faced an uphill battle, down 31-17, but the second half showed that it is truly never over until the final whistle. 

Two third-quarter touchdowns had the game tied up heading to the fourth. Oklahoma and Georgia would trade blows, until a Nick Chubb rushing touchdown with less than a minute left forced the game into overtime. In the first overtime, both teams exchanged field goals. Then in the second overtime, Georgia blocked Oklahoma’s attempt. Two plays later, Michel took it in himself to send the Bulldogs back to Atlanta for the National Championship. All of this is just scratching the surface of what this game was. For obvious reasons, it sticks out to most Georgia fans as the best of all of the games during the Kirby Smart era up to this point. 

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