Georgia Bulldogs: Ranking the Top 20 wins of the Kirby Smart Era (15-11)

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You could apply a lot of criteria for a set of twenty games, and from the outside looking in, this may not be the order that you would necessarily go with. Some of the games that may be the closest or “best” games, may not be towards the top (spoiler alert, the most recent National Championship is pretty high on the list). However, I hold a lot of these games close to my heart, as Kirby Smart and company have delivered some of the best moments of my time on campus. Some of these games were heart-stoppers, and some of them were just mushing a hated rival.

Previous Editions are listed below:

15. 2019: #3 Georgia v. #7 Notre Dame

The first of three times we’ll see Brian Kelly on this list. The home-and-home between the Dawgs and Irish produced two instant classic games. The game in Athens saw Notre Dame and Georgia exchange blows until the second half when Georgia rattled off three field goals and a Lawrence Cager touchdown. Chase Claypool scored for the Irish to make it close late in the fourth quarter, but the damage had been done. After a three-and-out, the Dawgs got a huge turnover on downs to seal the game. Georgia held Notre Dame to just 46 yards on the ground, with their longest run only being nine yards.

Final Score: Georgia 23, Notre Dame 17

14. 2022: #3 Georgia v. #11 Oregon

Coming off of a National Title, Georgia’s defensive coordinator Dan Lanning left Athens for Oregon to coach the Ducks. With Bo Nix at the helm, the Ducks made the trip from Eugene to Atlanta to face what was an overwhelming Dawg heavy crowd. Stetson Bennett silenced a lot of doubters in this game, going for 368 yards in the air and accounting for three total scores. Kirby Smart continued to torture Nix, as his defense picked him off twice and only allowed 173 yards through the air. Georgia kicked off their back-to-back National Title campaign with an absolute beatdown against a ranked opponent.

Final Score: Georgia 49, Oregon 3

13. 2019: #8 Georgia v. #6 Florida

I was in Jacksonville for this game, and believe me — it lived up to the hype. Both teams traded blows until the very end, but once again, it was Georgia’s run defense that was the difference. Florida only managed 22 total yards on the ground on 19 carries. After a Florida touchdown to bring them within striking distance, Georgia managed to bleed the clock thanks to a big-time catch from Eli Wolf, and Kirby Smart captured his third straight win against the Gators.

Final Score: Georgia 24, Florida 17

12. 2021: #2 Georgia v. #8 Arkansas

After leaving Athens to become the head coach for the Razorbacks, Sam Pittman returned to Sanford Stadium looking to really establish himself following a 4-0 start in Fayetteville in 2021. Kirby Smart was having none of that. Even with a noon kickoff for College Gameday, Georgia fans were extremely loud; creating two false starts on Arkansas’ first two plays of the game. Already up 14-0, a Dan Jackson blocked punt for a touchdown blew the lid off the place, as Georgia sacked KJ Jefferson four times and notched seven tackles for a loss. Arkansas only managed 162 total yards compared to their 101 yards in penalties. This was one of the first true games that established Sanford Stadium as a tough place to play under Smart.

Final Score: Georgia 37, Arkansas 0

11. 2016: Georgia v. #9 Auburn

Kirby Smart had a lot to prove in this game. After losing to Ole Miss, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, and Florida in four of his past five games, Georgia needed this win to get bowl eligible in mid-November. This was another sleeper involving a pick-six, as Mo Smith took back a Sean White pass 34 yards to the house. The Dawgs held White to 6 completions on 20 attempts and just 27 yards through the air. Nick Chubb and Sony Michel grinded Auburn’s defense, and Kirby Smart got one of his first signature wins of his tenure. The Tigers still haven’t won between the hedges since 2005.

Final Score: Georgia 13, Auburn 7

Photographer: Jeffrey Vest/Icon Sportswire

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