Georgia Bulldogs: Ranking the Top 20 wins of the Kirby Smart Era (20-16)

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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. I avoided doing an honorable mention, simply because twenty games is already pretty lengthy. Let’s get started:

20. 2017: #3 Georgia vs. Florida

After losing to Florida to start his tenure in Athens, Kirby needed to make a big statement in the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. He did just that, embarrassing the Gators and rushing for almost 300 yards in the process. Malik Zaire and Feleipe Franks combined for only 66 yards passing and 2.6 yards per attempt. The Gators didn’t find the endzone until the 2:42 mark of the fourth quarter when the game was well over. Sony Michel and Nick Chubb gashed Florida; Michel going for 22.8 yards per carry and two scores with Chubb chipping in 77 yards and a score. Elijah Holyfield got in on the action as well with 12.3 yards per carry and a score. Jake Fromm only had to complete four passes for 101 yards. This was a downright clowning, as the Dawgs rushed 34 times for 294 yards, good for 8.4 yards per carry.

Final Score: Georgia 42, Florida 7

19. 2019: #4 Georgia @ #12 Auburn

Georgia and Auburn has produced some absolute classics, and this almost turned into some more Auburn devil magic at Jordan-Hare stadium. After taking a 21-0 lead, Auburn came storming back in the fourth quarter to bring the game within one score. Following a three-and-out with six minutes left in the game, Georgia’s defense had to make a stop. They got one, stuffing Auburn on Georgia’s 34 yard line to keep them from tying the game. Georgia’s offense stalled yet again on another three-and-out, and the defense once again came up big with a huge sack by Travon Walker on fourth down to end the game. D’Andre Swift continued to torture the Tigers to the tune of 6.2 yards per carry, but we’ll talk more about that later.

Final Score: Georgia 21, Auburn 14

18. 2020: #4 Georgia v. #7 Auburn

This game holds a special place in my heart because it was my first game as a student. The stadium was at limited capacity due to COVID-19, but the atmosphere was still very rowdy. Auburn never had a chance in this game, and the Dawgs suffocated Gus Malzahn’s squad in his final game against the Dawgs. Georgia made Bo Nix’s life a living hell, sacking him twice and only allowing 177 yards on 40 passes with no touchdowns and an interception. Georgia also held Auburn to 1.8 yards per carry. Even though Malzahn was done with Kirby Smart for now; unfortunately, for the aforementioned Nix, this isn’t the last time we’ll see him on this list.

Final Score: Georgia 27, Auburn 6

17. 2020 Sugar Bowl: #5 Georgia v. #7 Baylor

This was the first game after Joe Burrow ran through Georgia in the SEC Championship and right before the world went to hell, but this was an important game for the Bulldogs. In the 2019 Sugar Bowl, Georgia had an embarrassing loss to Texas, and Kirby Smart wasn’t going to let that happen again. The scoreboard doesn’t tell the story of this game. Georgia raced out to a 19-0 lead, and a Zamir White touchdown run all but sealed the game at 26-7. At that point, it was too little too late for Baylor, and Kirby Smart took down a team that was so close to beating Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship. Oklahoma may have done them a favor, as the Sooners became lambs to the slaughter in the Peach Bowl against LSU. George Pickens absolutely went off for 12 catches, 175 yards, and a score.

Final Score: Georgia 26, Baylor 14

16. 2021: #5 Georgia v. #3 Clemson

This is one of those games that would put neutral observers to sleep or give either fanbase a heart attack, but this is an underrated and heated rivalry that had huge implications for both teams. Clemson had a down year, but if Georgia lost this game, you could have made the argument that with two losses, they shouldn’t get a shot at a rematch with Alabama and their first National Championship since 1980. Christopher Smith made sure that wasn’t going to happen with a 74 yard pick six. A couple of angry runs from Zamir White sealed the game and the season opener in Charlotte. This game wasn’t sexy, which is why it’s a bit lower, but you better believe it was important.

Final Score: Georgia 10, Clemson 3

Photographer: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire

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