ATHENS, Ga. — The Georgia Bulldogs are on the doorstep of making history and are looking to become the first team in the College Football Playoff era to win back-to-back national titles.
A season ago, the Bulldogs marched to Indianapolis with significant moments in critical games like the opener against Clemson and the win over Florida in its annual rivalry when they blew the game open at the end of the half. Then, they sent a record-breaking number of draftees to the NFL, lost a legend in former head coach Vince Dooley, avoided narrow upset bids and somehow through all of it managed to return to the big stage again, this time in Los Angeles.
Each game has seen the Bulldogs inch one step closer to another national title. The blowout victory over Oregon, the narrow escape on the road against Missouri, and the heart-stopping win over Ohio State in the Peach Bowl. Each win piled up on the path to LA and a chance at history.
Here is a look at some of the best moments and key performances from each game for the Georgia Bulldogs this season:
Game 1: Georgia 49, Oregon 3
The road to LA started in Atlanta, fitting considering it was also the site of the SEC Championship and Peach Bowl, the Bulldogs' final two wins of the season. Facing off against former defensive coordinator Dan Lanning, the Bulldogs came out on fire against the Ducks and put to rest any questions of a potential championship game hangover. However, the moment from this game that many will remember years from now is the Stetson Bennett turned Harry Houdini moment. Bennett scrambled around in the pocket shaking off defenders before turning a firing strike to Ladd McConkey to put the Bulldogs up 28-3 heading into halftime.
Game 2: Georgia 33, Samford 0
In the Battle of the Bulldogs and a showdown between Smart and his former boss Chris Hatcher, UGA came out on top despite a sluggish offensive performance by its standards. Georgia settled for field goals on four of its seven scoring drives and scored just once in the second half. But they handled their business against a Samford team that won the SoCon.
Game 3: Georgia 48, South Carolina 7
The offense had no problems against the Gamecocks, but this one will be remembered for what tight end Brock Bowers did on a pair of impressive catches. One, the big man got up for the ball in the end zone on a back shoulder fade from Bennett, and the other, he showed off his unicorn ability by juking out defenders in the open field on a 78-yard touchdown. South Carolina finished the season strong with wins over Tennessee and Clemson. In hindsight, this was an impressive showing for Georgia. Dawgs fans also got to see perhaps a glimpse of the future when Carson Beck hit tight end Oscar Delp for a 28-yard score in this one. The future is bright in Athens, as is the present.
Game 4: Georgia 39, Kent State 22
No one saw this one coming. The Golden Flashes kept this game within shouting distance until the very end. On trips inside Kent State territory, Georgia struggled again to get the ball in the end zone. But once again, it was the Brock Bowers show in Athens. He had two carries for 77 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He showed off his ability to be a threat in the passing game and his true versatility in taking handoffs for touchdowns.
Game 5: Georgia 26, Missouri 22
It was a near disaster on the road at night against the Tigers. Georgia nearly fell victim to a tough road opponent in the SEC. But when the pressure seemed too much, Stetson Bennett guided the offense to a pair of scores to stage a fourth-quarter comeback. This seems like a bit of foreshadowing following the win over Ohio State in a similar situation.
Game 6: Georgia 42, Auburn 10
Georgia didn't score until the second quarter, but the fourth quarter decided this game. Bennett ran for a 64-yard score to open the final frame, and the Bulldogs added two more scores to put this one out of reach for good. Freshman running back Branson Robinson also got to showcase his ability, nearly reaching a century mark on the ground. Robinson will be a name to watch next season and could take on the lion's share of the workload.
Game 7: Georgia 55, Vanderbilt 0
This was a typical day at the office for the Dawgs. However, this game was never in doubt after two rushing touchdowns from Kenny McIntosh in the first quarter. Carson Beck also got the chance to play the final quarter and tossed a pair of touchdown passes.
Game 8: Georgia 42, Florida 20
The game teetered on the verge of a blowout for much of the day, but a rally in the third quarter by the Gators kept this one interesting. Brock Bowers put together one of his best games of the year, including an unreal catch on the sideline that ricocheted off a Florida defender.
Game 9: Georgia 27, Tennessee 13
In the week leading up to the game, all eyes turned to Athens for the showdown. The hype surrounding the game was that Tennessee had arrived and was even ranked ahead of Georgia. The Bulldogs took this as a sign of disrespect. The talk was that Georgia's defense wasn't up to keeping Hendon Hooker and the offense in check. The defense shut down the high-flying Vols, and this game was over by halftime. A memory of this game was Bennett's cell phone celebration after Volunteer fans had spent all night ahead of the game calling his phone.
Game 10: Georgia 45, Miss. State 19
The talk of Georgia's downfall against Tennessee was premature, but many viewed a trip to Mississippi State as a potential trap game for Georgia. Instead, in the second Bulldog vs. Bulldog showdown, the ones from Athens took care of business in yet another blowout. Ladd McConkey had been quiet and even struggled during the season, but this game gave him a chance to shine. He had a pair of third-quarter scores that put the game away.
Game 11: Georgia 16, Kentucky 6
The offense was stagnant, but the defense came to play. They pitched a shutout til midway through the fourth quarter, and Georgia's offense did just enough to get out of town with a win. Kenny McIntosh put together one of his best games of the season with 143 yards rushing and a touchdown.
Game 12: Georgia 37, Georgia Tech 14
Stop me if you've heard this one before; Georgia gets off to a slow start on offense, finds a groove and rides it to a comfortable win. That's exactly what happened in the annual meeting against the in-state rivals. Tech took an early 7-3 lead before Georgia took control. Georgia outrushed Georgia Tech 264-40 in this game and didn't take much time to celebrate a perfect regular season.
Game 13: Georgia 50, LSU 30
The final score is a lot closer than the actual game. The Tigers scored three second-half touchdowns, but Georgia would march down the field and score again using its ground-and-pound philosophy. The Bulldogs opened up the scoring in this one on an odd play when Christopher Smith returned a blocked field goal 96 yards for the score. Everyone on the field, including Smith, seemed unsure initially, but the heads-up play gave the Dawgs a jump start. It also secured them an SEC Championship, which was missing for this senior class who had already accomplished just about everything else.
Game 14: Georgia 42, Ohio State 41
This will go down as one of the greatest games in college football history. The Buckeyes looked like the better team for most of the game. But the Bulldogs were up to the task when the pressure was on in the fourth quarter. Kirby Smart's timeout will go down as one of the critical moments in the season if Georgia repeats as champions. Bennett's touchdown passes in the fourth quarter also solidified his spot as an all-time great. This is one that Georgia fans will talk about for a long time, regardless of what happens in LA. The legacy of this game may be even bigger if the Dawgs come out on top Monday night.