Counting down my favorite Georgia games from the 2022 season, a campaign that ended with the Dawgs completing their quest for back-to-back national championships with a historic victory over the TCU Horned Frogs in the College Football Playoff National Championship game.
7. Florida Gators
I’m a proud, card carrying member of Generation X that came of age in the 90s and saw the Steve Spurrier era at Florida up close and it was painful to behold. To me, Florida is without question Georgia’s top rival and a win over the Gators is mandatory for me to be truly happy with any given season. Any win will do, but believe me when I tell you the Dawgs can’t beat Florida bad enough. With that as the backdrop you can understand why I start every Georgia football season with the same list of goals for the team as a fan: 1. Beat Florida 2. Win the SEC East 3. Win the SEC
Now the wording on these goals will change a bit as the conference adds new members, but the bottom line will remain the same. It all starts with whipping the Gators. That is why the 42-20 win in the game in Jacksonville (most likely to soon move on campus) makes my list of favorite games of 2022.
6. Oregon Ducks
Coming in to the 2022 season as the reigning national champions, everyone expected Georgia to be pretty good, but the splattering that happened to kick off the season in Atlanta against Oregon served to recalibrate even the most rabid Dawgs fan’s expectations for the 2023 season. Kirby’s Dawgs put the college football world on notice that a repeat as national champions was a very real possibility for Georgia, even with the losses sustained off the previous year’s national championship squad.
The Dawgs speed, precision, and power were on full display as they blistered the Ducks on their way to a 49-3 win. From the opening kickoff, Kirby Smart’s squad dominated the Ducks. Georgia could get whatever they wanted, any which way they wanted it, and provided a stark reality check for new Oregon head coach and former Georgia Defensive Coordinator Dan Lanning in his Ducks debut.
5. LSU Tigers – SEC Championship game
Like I mentioned above, one of my annual goals for the team as a fan (shared by the team) is to compete for and win the SEC Championship and the Dawgs found themselves back in Atlanta to bookend the 2022 regular season with a chance to do just that. Much like their previous trip to Mercedes Benz Stadium to open the season against Oregon, Georgia was on fire against the Tigers and looked dominant en route to a 50-30 victory and the SEC title, Kirby Smart’s second as head coach of the Dawgs.
This game was highlighted by a couple of plays that will live forever in Georgia lore. The first came early in the game when Junior Nasir Stackhouse blocked a 32-yard field goal attempt and Chris Smith patiently waited for the right moment before picking the ball up and returning it 96 yards for a touchdown to give the Dawgs a 7-0 lead. Georgia would go to the half leading 35-10 tying the mark for the most points in an SEC Championship Game first half. Later, Georgia standout defensive lineman wrapped up LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels and lifted him in the air for the sack as he raised one finger, instantly becoming one of the most iconic images in Georgia football history.
4. Missouri Tigers
Wait. What? That’s right. The mid-season struggle trip to middle earth checks in at number 4 on my favorite games list for 2022. Admittedly, this game was not pretty, not another sparkling example of the Dawgs dominance in what would eventually become another national championship season, but I argue that if this game had not played out the way it did the Dawgs don’t win their second consecutive national title.
This was the game the Dawgs learned a lot about exactly who they were and showed the nation they could overcome adversity and win in spite not playing their best game. There was a lot working against Georgia that night. A team that was banged up, playing on the road in the road in the toughest conference in the nation, on a cold night with a fan base that was invested and created one of the toughest atmospheres the Dawgs would play in all season.
A couple things leap to mind about this game that absolutely land it on my list of favorite games for the 2022 season.
The Dawgs young defense really came of age that night in Colombia, repeatedly forcing field goal attempts to keep Georgia in the game. The play that exemplifies this gritty effort for me came in the 2nd quarter when Malaki Starks walked down Missouri’s Cody Schrader, tackling him on the one yard line after a 63 yard gain. The Dawgs would force one of five Harrison Mevis field goals in the game. In a game Georgia would go on to win by just 4 points, the play made by the Freshman All-America proved to be gigantic.
The other key to the game that night and to Georgia’s season was how the team’s leaders stepped up and handled adversity. At one point after the half, Darnell Washington went to the coaches and straight told them to run the ball behind him. That he was going to make some room. Washington also had a couple of big catches that led to scores for the Dawgs. Another leader that stepped up was a banged up Kenny McIntosh, who was dealing with a deep thigh bruise suffered in the Kent State game a week earlier. Down 10 in the 4th quarter, it was McIntosh ripping off big runs and punishing defenders as Georgia battled back to win the game 26-22 and remain undefeated.
3. TCU Horned Frogs
Sitting at 14-0 after a victory over Ohio State in the Peach Bowl on New Year’s Eve, Georgia rolled into the national championship game against TCU and absolutely obliterated the Big 12’s first representative in the title game, defeating the Horned Frogs 65-7 to go 15-0 and claim their second consecutive national championship becoming the first team in the College Football Playoff era to win back-to-back national titles. To say the Dawgs dominated does not effectively capture what happened on the field that night. Georgia’s victory was truly historic. The Dawgs 58-point blowout victory in the College Football Playoff finale marked the largest margin of victory in bowl game history. It was more than just a victory or another championship, it was a statement that Georgia is king of the college football world until further notice. HBTFD!
2. Tennessee Volunteers
Number 2 on my countdown of my favorite games of the 2022 season are the Tennessee Volunteers. The Vols rolled into the Athens as the story of the season, a media darling, and ranked number one in the initial College Football Playoff rankings. Georgia was ranked number one in the AP poll at the time setting up an here-to-fore unheard of number one vs number one match up. College Game Day was in town and the atmosphere was absolutely electric and the Dawgs proved they were more than up to the challenge. For the second time in 2022, Georgia showed the world that they possessed the ultra-rare ability to flip the switch and find another gear in the biggest games. The Dawgs dominated Tennessee. The 27-13 final score was not indicative of physical beat down Georgia administered between the hedges that day. Tennessee was lucky the rains came in because based on what we saw in the first half, the Dawgs could have named their score. Feeling disrespected coming into the game, Georgia left no doubt afterwards that they were the class of college football and forced the national media to acknowledge as much.
1. Ohio State Buckeyes
The College Football Playoff, New Year’s Eve, and a match-up the college football world had been waiting to see for two years … Ohio State taking on Georgia … and this one would live up to the hype.
This was a heavyweight bout with the combatants trading punches throughout, but when the money was on the table at winning time, the Georgia Bulldogs showed themselves to be the better team. The Dawgs made play after play, dominating the 4th quarter, outscoring the Buckeyes 18-3. For the game, Georgia had more rushing yards on fewer attempts, 50 more passing yards on the same number of completions and attempts, more total yards on fewer plays, and made enough defensive stops to win the game proving once again what they had demonstrated throughout the season. The Dawgs were the best team that night, the most complete team in the sport, and the best team in college football in 2022.
So there you have it. My favorite games from the 2022 season for the back-to-back and reigning national champion Georgia Bulldogs.