The No. 8 Bulldogs (4-1, 2-1 in SEC) make a return trip today to face No. 13 Tennessee (4-1, 2-1) in Neyland Stadium at 7:45 p.m. And, even though today's game has more relevance for the Bulldogs, no one who was part of the 2001 game will be able to help having a few fond memories.
"That was the biggest game I think I've ever played in," said wide receiver Fred Gibson, who made the first catch of his career (a 15-yard touchdown) in that game.
The play the Bulldogs scored on was called P-44 Haynes and has retained the name even though Haynes is now playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Georgia has run it twice since that first time, scoring both times, once on a 10-yard pass to J.T. Wall against Florida last year and another on 10-yard pass to Jamario Smith last week.
Haynes said he watched Smith's catch from a Pittsburgh barber shop and recognized the call as soon as backup quarterback D.J. Shockley audibled into the play. He still has vivid memories of his catch.
"It seemed like time just stood still," he said. "I don't know why (linebacker) bit on that fake so hard with five seconds left in the game. There was no way we were going to run the ball."
That game was Georgia's first on the road under Richt and ended up as the Bulldogs' first win in Knoxville since 1980.
"I think it was a turning point for our program," Haynes said. "All year long Coach Richt and the staff were trying to emphasize 'Finish the drill.' That was the first time we actually did that."
The game also established quarterback David Greene, then a freshman, who took the ball in his own territory with 44 seconds remaining to start the decisive drive.
"It was big for our confidence, and it made me feel like I could play in the SEC," Greene said. "It gave the team confidence in me, too, I think."
Greene was 21-of-34 for 303 yards and two touchdowns overall.
"It was huge for David," said Richt, who also acknowledged the game was pivotal to his fast success in Athens. "I've coached some guys who played two seasons and never had a defining moment in their career where they stepped forward and helped you win a big game."
Today's game will be bigger, though.
The Bulldogs and Volunteers are the only two SEC Eastern Division teams with fewer than two conference losses. The winner of this game could then afford to lose another conference game and still expect a trip to the SEC Championship Game.
The (Nashville) Tennessean called the game "perhaps the most important home game the Vols have played since the 1998 national championship season." It will be the last chance for many of the Volunteers seniors to get a win over Georgia, which has won three straight after losing nine in a row in this rivalry.
"Yeah, that's been addressed," Tennessee coach Phil Fulmer said. "Actually, the players brought it up. I know it's very big for them. You don't like to leave your last year not having beaten anybody, and this is the team they haven't beaten."
Both teams will have half the conference schedule in front of them after today so nothing is assured, but "the winner gets a whole lot better chance than the loser for sure," Richt said.
No. 8 Georgia (4-1, 2-1 SEC) at No. 13 Tennessee (4-1, 2-1)
Kickoff: 7:45 p.m.
Stadium: Neyland Stadium (104,079)
Tickets: Sold out
Kickoff weather: High of 74, low of 57, partly cloudy, 20 percent
chance of rain
Series: Tennessee leads 17-13-2
Odds: Georgia favored by 2
Injuries: Georgia -- Probable: OL Daniel Inman (ankle), OL Josh Brock (shoulder), TE Ben Watson (ankle), WR Reggie Brown (hamstring), DE Quentin Moses (elbow), Out: RB Tony Milton (leg), DT Darrell Holmes (shoulder), DE Preston Pannell (shoulder).
Tennessee -- Probable: DT Justin Harrell (ankle); Questionable: WR Derrick Tinsley (neck/shoulder); Out: WR Robert Meachem (knee), WR Jonathan Wade (shoulder), C Chuck Prugh (illness).
Up next: Georgia at Vanderbilt, Oct. 18, 2 p.m.; Tennessee at Alabama, Oct. 25