NEW ORLEANS — The #5 Georgia Bulldogs are ready to play in the Sugar Bowl against #15 Texas and the last time the two teams played each other was after the 1983 regular season.
13WMAZ's Marvin James spoke with Georgia’s former quarterback Johnny Lastinger who led them to a 10-9 victory in that game at the 1984 Cotton Bowl.
"You know for us it was still a great way to stay in the national championship picture because they were hoping to win a national championship. Had they [Texas] won that day, they would have," he said.
And he should know, Johnny Lastinger was the starting QB for the Bulldogs in the game with undefeated Texas.
Georgia was out of title contention after failing to become SEC champs following a tough loss to Auburn, so they were anxious to beat Texas, but it wouldn’t be easy.
"They had a phenomenal defense. This was back when the NFL and USFL both had drafts and I believe all 11 were drafted, so that told you how good they were defensively," said Lastinger.
It was Lastinger and his senior class' last game wearing red and black, ending a season where Georgia was the underdog -- pun intended -- after losing one of the greatest to ever wear the silver britches, Herschel Walker, to the pros.
"We kind of used Herschel leaving as a rallying cry, like let’s prove to the country we can be just as good. We weren’t as good, but we pulled it together and had a great season. It’s almost scary to think how good we could’ve been if Herschel didn’t leave early, but to me it said a lot about our senior class," he recalled.
The Dogs finished 10-1-1, with a #4 overall ranking in both the AP and Coaches Poll.
34 years later after that game in the Lone Star state, Lastinger is now a successful businessman living in his hometown of Valdosta but is still very much in tune with the atmosphere in Athens and counts this season as a big step forward despite missing the playoffs.
"If anybody is disappointed, I think they need to take a step back and think about this deal. You know we played for a national championship last year [and] lost a heartbreaker in overtime. We got a Rose Bowl victory and then the experts say this wasn’t Georgia’s year -- that this is supposed to be a step back. But if this is a step back, it’s not much of a step back," he said.
Lastinger played in the Sugar Bowl twice and against Texas once, but for him, his excitement is not about nostalgia.
"More than anything, I’m going because I’m a Georgia Bulldog fan and I’m proud of them and want to support them," he said.
Lastinger and his son are at the Sugar Bowl along with thousands along with of Bulldog fans and they are also excited to finish the season off with a win versus Texas.
The game is slated to begin at 8:45 p.m. EST on ESPN.