By James Brunson
The Clemson-Georgia rivalry began in Athens, GA on October
9, 1897, and tonight's meeting will mark the 63rd time the two schools
square off on the gridiron. Other than South Carolina, the Tigers have
not played any current, non-ACC school more often than they have played
Georgia. The Bulldogs lead the all-time series 41-17-4. The following
takes a look back at some of the more memorable moments from the 62-game
From 1907-13, Clemson and Georgia played in Augusta, GA each
year in early November as part of the Georgia-Carolina Fair. The 1909
meeting fell on Wednesday, November 10
and represented the second leg of one of the more amazing achievements
in Clemson football history, as the Tigers won three games by shutout in
three different cities in a 10-day span.
Clemson began its march by meeting South Carolina in Columbia on Thursday, November 4
as part of the South Carolina State Fair. The hype for that game may
have matched the anticipation for tonight's top-10 showdown, as it
marked the resumption of the Clemson-South Carolina rivalry, which had
been put on hold for six years after a riot among the two student bodies
took place following the 1902 game. The Tigers prevailed 6-0 on the
strength of a three-yard touchdown run by fullback C.M. Robbs late in
the first half and an extra point by W.M. White (touchdowns were worth
five points in 1909).
Six days later, Clemson crossed the border to face the Bulldogs in a 3:00 PM
contest. The Augusta Chronicle reported that the crowds of
10,000-15,000 were the largest in the four-year history of the
Georgia-Carolina Fair and that 2,000 highly-enthusiastic fans attended
Clemson quarterback E.H. Pinkney was the star, as he piled
up several long runs and completed a 30-yard touchdown pass (the forward
pass had just become legal in 1906) in the middle of the first half.
The Tigers missed the point-after try and led 5-0.
Clemson threatened with a trip to the Bulldog 15 late in the
second half, but a holding penalty took the Tigers out of scoring
position. The Clemson defense continued its stingy ways, however, and
the Tigers held on for a 5-0 win, earning their second shutout in six
From Augusta, Clemson traveled to Charleston to take on
fellow Palmetto State, all-male military school The Citadel in a
contest at Hampton Park. After a sluggish, scoreless first half,
Clemson pulled away with three second-half touchdowns and two PATs for a
It is interesting to note that all three teams that Clemson
shut out in that 10-day stretch are on the Tigers' schedule this year.
Clemson and Georgia were mirror programs in many ways in the
late 1970s and early 1980s, and those commonalities produced two
titanic showdowns between the rivals in 1981 and 1982.
Georgia suffered through a disappointing 6-5 season in 1979
that included an 0-3 record against ACC teams, a loss at Clemson and
home losses to Wake Forest and Virginia. The Bulldogs were in need of a
star and they found one in tailback Herschel Walker. He signed with
Georgia after a heated recruiting battle with Clemson and made an
immediate impact by leading the Bulldogs to a 12-0 record and the 1980
Like the Bulldogs in 1979, Clemson experienced its own 6-5
lackluster season in 1980. The Tigers had a roster full of good
players, but seemingly could not shake an early-season loss at Georgia
in which they believed they outplayed the Bulldogs (plays in the first
half were Clemson 56, Georgia 10), but came up short.
Like Georgia the year before, Clemson needed a star to help
it get over the hump, and that Tiger came in the form of William "The
Refrigerator" Perry, the mammoth (6'2", 315 pounds) defensive tackle
from Aiken, SC who signed with the program in the spring of 1981.
Perry's arrival set the stage for two of the biggest games in the
history of this rivalry.
Walker and his teammates showed up at Death Valley on the third Saturday
of the 1981 season toting the nation's longest winning streak (15
games) and a #4 national ranking. Clemson was 2-0, but unranked. Perry
teamed up with the rest of his defensive linemates to dominate the game
from start to finish.
Walker was held to his lowest rushing total of the 1981
season (111 yards on 28 carries), fumbled three times (lost two), and
never crossed Clemson's goal line (in fact, Walker never scored in three
games against the Tigers). One of Walker's fumbles was recovered by
Perry at the Georgia 34 late in the first half and set up a 39-yard
Donald Igwebuike field goal and a 10-0 Tiger halftime lead.
Georgia cut the lead to 10-3 on its first possession of the
third quarter, but Clemson stuffed Walker on third-and-two plays on
consecutive series, forcing punts and turning momentum back in Clemson's
The Tigers tacked on an early fourth-quarter field goal and
the secondary closed out the game with its third, fourth, and fifth
interceptions of the day against quarterback Buck Belue. Clemson forced
nine turnovers that day, still the most in a game in school history.
It was also the only regular-season loss of Walker's three-year Georgia
Clemson's 13-3 win sparked a 12-0 season and its first
national title in any sport. Georgia won the rest of its regular-season
games, but fell late to Pittsburgh in the Sugar Bowl and finished #6 in
the AP poll.
With the winners of the two previous national titles
scheduled to square off on September 18, 1982 in Athens, ABC called an
audible in April and requested that the game be played at 9:00 PM
on Labor Day night. Clemson and Georgia, with the cooperation of
Boston College and Brigham Young, respectively, managed to rearrange
their schedules on short notice. The Georgia athletic department added
lights to Sanford Stadium (at a cost of $1,000,000) so the #7 Bulldogs
could host #11 Clemson on national television in Georgia's first home
night game since 1951.
The game that the college football world spent the entire
summer waiting on lived up to the hype in the form of a slugfest. Perry
recovered a John Lastinger fumble early in the game at the Georgia 11
to set up a six-yard Homer Jordan touchdown run three plays later that
gave Clemson a 7-0 lead. It would be the only offensive touchdown of
Early in the second quarter, Dale Carver blocked a Dale
Hatcher punt and Stan Dooley recovered at the two and fell into the
endzone for Georgia's only touchdown of the night and a 7-7 tie. Kevin
Butler added two field goals, one just before halftime and the other in
the third quarter. The Bulldog defense repeatedly turned Clemson over
during the rest of the game in securing a hard-fought 13-7 win. Walker
was limited with a broken thumb and finished with a career-low 20 yards
on 11 carries.
Georgia won its remaining 10 regular-season games, but came
up short in the Sugar Bowl against Penn State and finished #4 in the
polls. Clemson tied Doug Flutie and Boston College in its next game,
then won the remaining nine games for a 9-1-1 final record and a #8
final AP ranking.
Over When It's Over?
Country music star Eric Church won the 2012 CMA
Album-of-the-Year for his album, "Chief." One of the tracks on that
album, "Over When It's Over," describes, as you might imagine since it
is country music, the utter finality of a relationship ending, and asks
in the chorus, "It's over when it's over, ain't it baby, ain't it?"
In addition to sounding like a Yogi Berra quote, that song
also comes to mind when discussing several wild endings of
Clemson-Georgia battles during the height of this rivalry (1977-87).
The contests in 1983, 1984, 1986, and 1987 left many associated with
the games uncertain as to whether or not the games were actually over.
The Bulldogs traveled to #8 Clemson in mid-September of 1983
and were greeted by 82,122 fans, a then-record crowd for a football
game in the state of South Carolina. As was typical of Georgia-Clemson
games around that time, a seesaw affair broke out.
Georgia went up 6-0 early on two field goals, only to see
Clemson storm back with 16 unanswered points and a 16-6 lead in the
middle of the third quarter. Georgia backup quarterback Todd Williams
then sparked the Bulldogs to a touchdown and a field goal, and the game
was tied late.
With seven seconds left and following a Clemson
incompletion, Head Coach Danny Ford sent Donald Igwebuike on to attempt a
wind-aided, 68-yard field goal. The kick seemingly had the distance,
but was just left of the uprights. One would think that a 68-yard
field-goal attempt would exhaust the seven seconds that remained on the
clock when the play began.
But on that day in 1983, one second remained in the game and
Head Coach Vince Dooley sent Butler out for a 66-yard attempt with the
wind in his face. Butler's kick fell short and the game finally ended
in a 16-16 tie. It is believed to be the only college football game
that has ended with consecutive field-goal attempts.
The following season in Athens saw another back-and-forth
game. Clemson, ranked #2 in the nation, led by two touchdowns at
halftime, but Georgia rallied to tie the score (23-23) in the fourth
quarter. Butler then kicked his well-known, monstrous 60-yard field
goal to give Georgia a 26-23 lead with 11 seconds remaining.
Everyone remembers that kick, but many do not remember
Clemson almost earned a chance to tie the game. Ray Williams fielded
the ensuing kickoff and tossed a lateral to fellow return-man Terrance
Roulhac, who raced to the Bulldog 37, stepped out of bounds, and was
shoved to the ground, drawing a 15-yard, personal-foul penalty. A
15-yard penalty would have set Clemson up at the Georgia 22 for one
untimed down and a chance for a 39-yard Igwebuike field goal.
Igwebuike had already made three field goals on the day and
finished the 1984 season 16-17 on field goals for a national-leading
94.1 percentage. The officials huddled on the sidelines and decided
that Roulhac stepped out of bounds after time expired, and therefore the
game had ended before the dead-ball penalty occurred. Today, if you
take a stopwatch to that play, it took 9.5 seconds before Roulhac was
pushed out of bounds. Instant replay was not available in 1984.
Following a Georgia win at Clemson in 1985, the two teams
met as top-20 teams in Athens in 1986. This game was close like all the
others, but it was high scoring. Clemson made many big plays behind
Terrence Flagler, who was in the early stages of an All-America season.
Rodney Williams had one of his better days throwing the ball, while
Athens-native Norman Haynes led the defense with 14 tackles.
In the end, Clemson had the ball last and Williams made some
key plays with Flagler, setting up David Treadwell for a 46-yard field
goal. His game-winning attempt was true, the longest field goal of his
career, and the Tigers had a 31-28 victory.
Two top-20 teams faced off again the next year in 1987 at
Clemson. Typical of the rivlary, craziness ensued. Georgia led another
back-and-forth game by a score of 20-16 in the middle of the fourth
quarter. However, a skilled punt by Rusty Seyle and coverage by Chinedu
Ohan set up a momentum-changing safety by James Lott and others with 5:38 remaining in the game to cut the lead to 20-18.
The Tigers received the ensuing kickoff and marched
methodically down the field behind the running of Terry Allen with nine
consecutive running plays to set up another game-winning field goal by
Treadwell, this one from 21 yards.
The difference in this field-goal attempt and the
game-winner in 1986 was that the clock was running and Clemson was out
of timeouts. Georgia had one, but chose not to "ice" Treadwell, so the
senior All-American had to hustle onto the field to get the field goal
off before time expired. Treadwell nailed the kick, but two seconds
remained on the clock.
Thinking the game was over, many Tiger players streamed onto
the field to celebrate the 21-20 win. Ford instantly realized his
team's error and sprinted onto the field, waving his orange "Block C"
ballcap at them to try to hustle them back to the sidelines and avoid a
His efforts were futile and Clemson was hit with a 15-yard
celebration penalty and had to kick off deep in its own territory. The
Tigers had given up a kickoff return for touchdown the week before at
Virginia Tech, but Georgia had no such luck, as two Clemson defenders
leveled the return man at midfield to end the game.
Will tonight's game rival some of those close contests of
the 1980s? A look to the rosters tells us this "border war" could be