Can Georgia football end 40 years of frustration with a national title?

ATHENS (Georgia) -- Quarterback JT Danis remembers the first time his family drove from Atlanta to the University of Georgia campus. He was in the middle of transferring.
Daniels stated, "Seeing all the Georgia Bulldog Flags flying everywhere, and to experience what it's really like for football, it's been a major focal point, it's something I love ever since I got here,"

Daniels, who was a USC student for two seasons before moving to Georgia in 2020, was likely as impressed by the Bulldogs' $31million indoor practice facility, $63M expansion of Sanford Stadium, and $80M football operations facility.

Daniels stated that "Football just another thing on West Coast vs. Football being the thing here."

Imagine Daniels' shock when he found out that the Bulldogs had not won a national title since 1980.

It is a program that spends so much time and cares so much. It is also centrally located in one the most fertile recruiting hotbeds in the country. The FBS conference is undoubtedly the best in the country. Yet, another national title has been hard to win.

"If it isn't coming, then what should we do?" Kirby Smart, Georgia coach. I don't view it as a win. It's not about winning. I see it as what's important right now. What are we doing? It's been long overdue. I know people in this organisation, the administration, and people who love Georgia. It doesn't matter if you won one-year ago. For me, this is the end goal, it's the goal. This is what you should be working towards.

ESPN Stats & Information has data that shows 30 teams have won a national title since 1978, when the FBS/FCS split. Georgia is the only one with an active drought that has lasted longer than any other team. The Bulldogs have had 16 top-10 finishes at the final AP poll since 1980's national championship. This is the longest streak of teams who have not won a title.

No. The No. 5 Bulldogs will be the first to try and end that 41-year-long drought. 3 Clemson will play on Saturday (ABC, 7:15 p.m. ET) at Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, North Carolina.

Vince Dooley, former Georgia coach, said that he never imagined it would take 41 years. "We went 20+ years without winning an SEC title."

The anticipation and excitement surrounding Georgia's 1982 opener against Clemson was as high as this year's matchup. Herschel Walker, a freshman from Georgia, was leading the Bulldogs' charge. The Tigers had captured their first national championship in 1981, defeating Georgia 13-3 at Death Valley.

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The Labor Day season opener between the two previous national champions was so huge that ABC decided to broadcast it on Monday night, a prime-time slot normally reserved for the NFL. A loss would not knock either team out the national championship race. However, the margin of error was much smaller in a season opener than it was before there was a four-team College Football Playoff.

Walker, who had a heavy cast on his right thumb and was unable to play until the second period, was only able to be used as a decoy for Georgia's victory 13-7. He won the Heisman Trophy, leading the Bulldogs to an undefeated season and their third consecutive SEC championship. The No. The No. 1 Bulldogs lost against the No. 2 Penn State lost to No. 1 Bulldogs 27-23 in Sugar Bowl. This cost them their second national championship in three seasons.

Clemson had to wait 35 more years before winning a second national championship. Dabo Swinney was a Tigers assistant coach who had no prior head-coaching experience. He finally broke the drought by leading the Tigers to the College Football Playoff national championships in 2016 and 2018. Swinney was accompanied by Trevor Lawrence and Deshaun Watson, two Georgia high school quarterbacks.

Georgia came within inches of winning a national title, or at least playing for it, a few times since 1980. This includes a loss to Alabama 26-23 in overtime in the 2017 CFP championship game.

Dooley, who will turn 89 this Saturday, was Georgia's coach from 1988 to 1988. Walker, 59, announced last week that he will run for the U.S. Senate. It's been so long since the Bulldogs won it again.

How can the Bulldogs stop the drought?

Mark Richt, a former Georgia coach, stated that winning the game is all you have to do to be in. It's not difficult. You have to win the game that gets you in. This is how it works. They're doing the right thing, but that doesn't necessarily mean they will win. Georgia reached the playoff. They were close to winning the national championship. They didn't do anything wrong. It just happened."

Georgia could have ended its dry spell if the CFP was introduced prior to 2014. Richt's 15-year tenure as Georgia's College GameDay analyst and quarterback saw his teams win an average of nearly 10 games per season. This was in addition to their almost 10-win seasons during the period 2001-2015. The Bulldogs' 20-year drought without an SEC championship was ended by the 2002 team, which was led by David Pollack, College GameDay analyst, and David Greene, quarterback. Georgia finished No. In the final AP poll, Georgia was ranked No.

Matthew Stafford was the quarterback of the 2007 team. However, they didn't win SEC East due to losses to South Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia. The Bulldogs were not invited to the BCS National Championship, but they looked great while beating Hawaii 41-10 in Sugar Bowl.

Let the excitement begin College football kicks off Week 1, with many marquee matchups. ESPN and ABC have you covered throughout the weekend. There are many other games available on ESPN+, SEC Network, ACC Network, and ESPN streaming.

All games are also available on ESPN App. All times Eastern Thursday, September 2.

Boise State at UCF 7 p.m. ESPN Friday, September 3

No. No.

Michigan State at Northwestern, 9:05 p.m. ESPN Saturday, September 4

Tulane at No. 2 Oklahoma, noon, ABC

Western Michigan at Michigan, noon ESPN

No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 14 Miami, 3:30 PM, ABC

West Virginia at Maryland, 3:00 p.m. ESPN

Texas Tech at Houston, 7:05 p.m. ESPN

No. 5 Georgia vs. 3 Clemson at 7 p.m. ABC

BYU vs. Arizona at 10:30 p.m. ESPN Sunday, September 5

No. 9 Notre Dame at Fla. St., 7:30 p.m., ABC Monday, Sept. 6

Louisville vs. Ole Miss, 8 p.m., ESPN Full Week 1 schedule

Richt's best chance of taking Georgia to the Promised Land was five years later. Georgia was leading Alabama 21-10 in SEC championship, but Georgia lost 32-28 to Chris Conley at the Tide 5 yard line.

Richt stated, "When you think about it we had a chance of making it to the BCS Championship game." It hurts when you are that close to it, no matter who you play. It's something I have thought about over the years, mostly because people brought it up to me. We might have made it to the playoffs [four-team playoff] for two or three years.

After the 2015 season, Richt left Georgia and was replaced by Smart. Smart is a former Bulldogs defensiveback and Alabama's long-serving defensive coordinator. Smart's teams are now 44-9 after going 8-5 in Richt's first season. They have played in three of four SEC championship games. In 2017, they beat Oklahoma 54-48 in two overtimes, but lost to Alabama in CFP National Championship.

The famous second-and-25 play, in which Tide backup quarterback TuaTagovailoa passed the winning touchdown to DeVonta Smith, also ended the game in overtime.

Kevin Butler, an ex-Georgia kicker, said that it has not happened because the players haven't made plays. His 60-yard field goal was the difference between a 26-23 win over No. Clemson in 1984. They've been in a position to do it but haven't made the play. Alabama won the play. They have the talent, the ability and they now have to make the plays. Georgia must be at the other end of those games when it comes to championships. This is how you win championships.

Georgians from Athens to Augusta, Atlanta to Savannah are starting another college football season. For the past eight years, they have been asking the same question for decades: Will this be the year that the Bulldogs finally step down?

Dooley stated, "I believe if it's happening with Kirby it's going be in the next two to three years."

Daniels was the second USC freshman to play at quarterback in 2018. He also suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in the 2019 opener. This is part of the reason there is so much optimism. He returned from his knee injury and started the Bulldogs' final three games in the 2020 regular season. He completed 67%, for 1,231 yards with 10 touchdowns.

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Georgian fans hope he is even better after the knee injury. Monken was also new to the team, so COVID-19 restrictions made it difficult to install his offense.

Monken stated, "It's different when you start the season as a starter." Monken said, "I think that he is more at ease with our players. The second is that he's more comfortable with the offense and is able to make changes at the line. He has a better command of the offense, which is normal. He seems to have a greater command of the offense, which is normal as we continue to evolve offensively."

It remains to be seen how much the Bulldogs will open up their offense. Smart was fifth in the SEC for passing in five previous seasons. They ranked 12th in 2017's CFP title game with freshman Jake Fromm at the center.

Smart stated that "When we first arrived here, the first few years, you didn’t feel like it was necessary to outscore others." We believed we could win with a strong offense and a good defense. And, to be fair, Alabama was not that different from us the year they beat them. The majority of [Crimson Tide] wideouts who went in the first round [of this year's NFL draft] were freshman that year. "It was a model that no one had before LSU [with quarterback Joe Burrow] in 2019.

Smart thought he had the perfect storm to make things more offensively with Daniels and a returning talented receiver corps. In spring practice, George Pickens, a star receiver, tore his ACL in the right knee. He is not expected to play in the upcoming season. Arik Gilbert, a LSU transfer, was supposed to play receiver for Georgia. He has not been with the team in weeks due to personal reasons. Darnell Washington, a tight end, broke his foot last month. He won't likely play against Clemson.

Georgia will rely on its running and defense with so many playmakers, at least for the first half of the season.

Smart stated, "Everybody makes it about me philosophy, but I have always wanted to score since I was here." Smart said, "All I wanted was tight ends and running backs. That attracts the best quarterbacks. The NFL-style system is where the best quarterbacks want to play.

Smart acknowledges that his offensive philosophy has changed over the years.

He said, "The NFL has also changed over the past five years." "Now, it's five wideouts, pass-happy and runningbacks like [Christian] McCaffrey or [Alvin] Kamara, who are great receivers. That was not the NFL's way back when I took the Georgia job. All that changed was when LSU began throwing it around, breaking all the SEC records for offense, and then Alabama did the same. This is the current model. It's not a model that is built around great defense. It's the model with really elite wideouts, and a quarterback who can make really good decisions.

The Bulldogs will be the favorite in their remaining 11 regular season games, regardless of Georgia's win over Clemson Saturday night. They will be playing for the SEC championship against Alabama if they win those games. Smart's teams are currently 0-3 against Nick Saban, his former boss. Since 2009, the Crimson Tide has won six national championships under Saban. Three of those titles have been in the last six years.

Smart stated, "I have no doubt that we can play against Alabama. We've done it three more times." Smart said, "We are just as good as them and have gone toe-toe with them."

Georgia might be able to overcome this elephant-sized obstacle and end its drought.

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