Georgia, Clemson football series is special

dshirley@macon.comMarch 23, 2012 

It’s sad that the Georgia-Clemson football games that are scheduled for 2013 and 2014 might be postponed or cancelled altogether.

But that’s one of the casualties of conference expansion, especially without a playoff at the end of the season. With no playoff, it doesn’t make sense for teams to play these games. When they play a home-and-home series like this, they lose a guaranteed home game, and they face the possibility of not being able to overcome a loss that would knock them out of any chance of being in the national discussion.

Now, if there were a playoff, like the NCAA tournament in basketball, things would be different. That column, however, has been written before, so there’s no need to beat that dead horse.

There is reason, however, to mourn the loss of any Georgia-Clemson games. The two schools are so close -- they’re separated by about 75 miles -- that they should play in every sport. I’m not sure why they don’t play every year in basketball, for instance, but the football series has been something special in the past.

Granted, Georgia has dominated this rivalry for most of its existence, holding a 41-17-4 lead, but the games in 1980s were something special, something to behold and something fans my age always will remember and hold on to as something to cherish.

From 1980-87, Georgia led the series 4-3-1, and all eight games were decided by 10 points or fewer. Three of those -- a Georgia win in 1984 and Clemson wins in 1986 and 1987 -- were decided by field goals in the final seconds.

In 1980, Georgia won by four at home and went on to win its only national title. In 1981, Clemson upset the Bulldogs 13-3 and went on to win its only national title.

The following year, the two teams faced off on Labor Day night in Athens, and Georgia won 13-7. In 1983, there was a tie as both teams tried long field goals in the final seconds only to miss and send all of the fans at Clemson’s Memorial Stadium home upset.

Now, everyone should be upset that these games might not be played the next couple of seasons. Sure, it has been awhile; the teams haven’t played since 2003. But the hope that the series will be back on the schedule is always right there, enticing fans who wait for it to return and bring with it plenty of exciting, hard-hitting games.

It’s just a shame that we might have to wait even longer for it to come back.

Contact Daniel Shirley at 744-4227 or dshirley@macon.com

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