Wes Muilenburg/Dawg Post

UGA After Last-Minute Losses

ATHENS - What’s the difference between Georgia and someone who was just dumped who has been in a long-term relationship?

Well, at the moment, not much. Both just had their hearts unexpectedly broken; both are trying to prove they’re just fine and may even be better off, but with both, you’re worried about how they’re going to take it over the next few months. 

And now, after Georgia’s Hail Mary loss to Tennessee, we’re all stuck wondering, are the Dawgs going to be able to move past it, or are they going to get caught dwelling on the past?

History suggests UGA will show that they have indeed moved on by the time they get to this week's matchup against South Carolina. Over the past 15 years, Georgia has followed a loss with a win 23 times and a loss 13 time. That means 64% of the time UGA gets back to its winning ways after a typical loss.

The good news about losing to Tennessee on a Hail Mary - well there is no good news about that. Still, when the Dawgs lose a game in either overtime or in the last minute of the game, the win percentage for the following game jumps up to 75% - a 6-2 record. 

By the sound of head coach Kirby Smart, UGA has nothing on their mind other than making that record 7-2.

“We got to move on. It’s simple guys. This game is simple. You have to move on to South Carolina right now,” Smart said. “[Texas] A&M probably didn’t respect South Carolina, and they went into the half in a dog fight. This is a good football team that is playing really hard for their new coach, and that’s where our focus has to be. That’s where my focus is, and I certainly think that’s where our players focus is.” 

Of course, Georgia isn’t the only team that has bounced back from last-second losses. Many SEC fans remember the “Bluegrass Miracle” of 2002, when LSU pulled off one of the most iconic Hail Mary’s of all time to beat Kentucky. 

With a three-point lead and only :11 seconds remaining (sound familiar?), the Kentucky players gave then head coach Guy Morriss a gatorade bath to celebrate. But, as time expired, LSU quarterback Marcus Randall threw a 74-yard touchdown pass to win the game 33-30. After such an improbable and deflating loss, Kentucky was still able to rally with a 41-21 victory over their rival, Vanderbilt. 

While Georgia tends to fare well in games that come on the heels of a last minute loss, heartbreaking losses do tend to take a toll on the Dawgs in the long run. In 2009, Georgia allowed a 33-yard touchdown run in the final minute of the game to propel LSU to a win in Sanford Stadium. That defeat was followed by a loss the next week at Tennessee. That season the Bulldogs ended the year 8-5. The following year, after a 1-1 start, Georgia suffered a loss to No. 10 Arkansas when Razorback QB Ryan Mallett threw a 40-yard touchdown with :15 seconds left on the clock. The loss sent the Dawgs into a downward spiral, dropping two more consecutive losses en route to a 6-7 season.

It’s hard to say that the one close loss definitely derailed the entire season, but Georgia is not alone when it comes to this kind of scenario. In 2015, perennial powerhouse Nebraska was handed a crushing loss at the hands of a 42-yard BYU Hail Mary as time expired. Like prior Georgia teams, Nebraska’s initial response was strong, responding with a 48-9 beatdown of South Alabama the following week. But Nebraska couldn’t sustain that, and after winning nine or more games throughout the previous seven seasons, the Cornhuskers put up only their third losing season since 1961 with a 6-7 record. 

If history truly does repeat itself, then Georgia fans should have a lot of faith that Smart and the Dawgs can bounce back against South Carolina after a gut wrenching loss to Tennessee. But looking both backwards at precedent and forward at opponents like Auburn and Florida, the odds aren’t necessarily on the Dawgs’ side.


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