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Georgia Football

96 Days to Kickoff - Dawg Post Countdown

May 27, 2018

ATHENS - I remember the 1996 season super well. 

And it wasn’t a great season. It was a year of up and down - more down than up at the end of the day. Today we are 96 days away from UGA kicking off its season, and when I hear 96 it makes me think of that fall. 

So much positive had occurred in the year leading up to the 1996 season. The Atlanta Braves won the World Series in the fall of 1995 - proving that Georgia could win big at sports… it had been a long time since the area won anything. And seemingly the entire state was packed with Braves fans. 

The summer of 1996 saw the world converge on Atlanta and the state for the Olympics. It was a magical time in the Peach State. I witnessed the US women winning the Gold Medal in a straight up thriller in Sanford Stadium. 

Just around that time Jim Donnan, who had replaced Ray Goff as head coach, was getting his program ready for the fall. Florida and Tennessee were national powers, and Georgia was lost… very lost. 

The season opened with an embarrassing home loss to Southern Miss. A week later, and as three-point favorites, Georgia lost at South Carolina in a game that featured the Bulldogs figuring out how to shoot themselves in the foot in new and creative ways during the game.

Then the rain game against Texas Tech - UGA saving itself from an 0-3 start. A win at Missippi State was followed by Peyton Manning and No. 7 Tennessee leaving Athens with another win after a four-quarter fight. A sloppy win over Vanderbilt a week later might have provided momentum for the season, but a 24-17 loss at lowly Kentucky might have been the low point of the season. Georgia was considered a 16-point favorite over the Cats, but lost that night in Lexington. 

The Dawgs were completely embarrassed 47-7 a week later in Jacksonville by No. 1 Florida. 

Then the second bye week of the year showed up just in time. Donnan benched both Mike Bobo and Robert Edwards heading into the Auburn game, but went to them as the game went on. No. 20 Auburn, a 10-point favorite, held what felt like a sizable enough lead at the half - 28-14. But Georgia scored two TDs in the fourth quarter - including one on the final play of regulation - to improbably send the game into overtime. 

There Edwards took over and powered Georgia to the first win in overtime history. The four overtimes is still the most in school history. 

But, as if on cue, the Bulldogs slipped back into their funk the following week - losing as 13-point favorites to pitiful Ole Miss 31-27 in Athens. A week later Georgia took out the Jackets 19-10 to end the season 5-6. 

Georgia has only had one losing season (2010) since. If there was a modern day turnaround moment for the program from being very average to good (and even great) it was the day Bobo found Corey Allen in the end zone at Jordan-Hare. 

Other notable 96s in the history of the Bulldogs… 

The 96-yard drive against Auburn in 1965

Down 14-6 in the second quarter, Kirby Moore led Georgia on 2-play, 96-yard drive including a 92-yard TD pass to Randy Wheeler with 6:58 to play in the half. But Auburn beat Georgia 21-19 on November 13, 1965. 

96-yard kickoff returns for a TD

Lamar Davis returned a kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown in Georgia’s 21-13 loss at Tulane on November 16, 1940 in New Orleans. 

Jimmy Campagna returned a kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown in Georgia’s 13-7 win over Auburn on November 15, 1952 in Columbus. 

Gene Washington took a kickoff back 96 yards for a touchdown in Georgia’s 31-14 win over Clemson on September 22, 1973 in Athens.

96-yard fumble returns for a TD

Leonard Floyd took a fumble back 96 yards for a TD in No. 19 Georgia’s 38-31 loss at Tennessee on October 10, 2015 in Knoxville.

Top UGA players to ever wear the No. 96

PK Brandon Coutu
DL Ken Veal
DL DaQuan Hawkins-Muckle

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