1987: Georgia vs. Arkansas
(Picture Courtesy of DawgToons)
Before Arkansas joined the SEC in 1992, Georgia and Arkansas had only met three times. Each of those contests took place in bowl game. The first two meetings went the way of the Razorbacks, defeating Georgia 16-2 in the 1969 Sugar Bowl and 31-10 in the 1976 Cotton Bowl. The two teams would meet again in Memphis in 1987, one of the last few times they would meet as non-conference opponents.
Georgia entered the 1987 Liberty Bowl with a record of 8-3. Lars Tate and Rodney Hampton were the stars for the Dawgs on offense, but this team was better known for its stars on defense. Georgia greats John Brantley, Richard Tardits, and Bill Goldberg led the team to give up no more than 27 points in any game all season. Georgia had lost 3 games by a combined 20 points, including a 1 point loss to #8 Clemson and a 3 point loss to #7 LSU. All three losses were to ranked teams, leaving the Dawgs with a 1-3 record against ranked opponents for the season.
Arkansas had a similar season to Georgia that fall. They were 9-3 (they played a 12th game against Hawaii in December), with two of their three losses coming to ranked opponents. They boasted the #20 defense in the country and were looking to finish with 10 wins for Coach Dan Hatfield.
53,249 fans were in attendance to see the third matchup of the Dawgs and the Hawgs. Arkansas took an early lead with a field goal. But in the first minute of the second quarter, Lars Tate ran one in from the 1 yard line to give the Dawgs a 7-3 lead. But Arkansas answered with a touchdown pass and took a 10-7 lead into the locker room. Georgia’s offense continued to struggle in the third quarter and Arkansas built their lead to 17-7.
But the Dawgs took control in the fourth quarter. John Kasay kicked a field goal to get the Dawgs within 7 before quarterback James Jackson tied the game on a 5 yard run. With the game tied at 17, defensive back Carver Russaw intercepted an Arkansas pass and ran it back into Hawgs’ territory. A pass from James Jackson to tight end Troy Sadowski set up John Kasay for a game winning field goal attempt. The kick was good and Georgia defeated Arkansas, 20-17. James Jackson was named the MVP, rushing for 72 yards and throwing for 148. The Dawgs finished the season 9-3, their first 9 win season since 1983.
John Kasay: Still kicking in the NFL after all these years