2021-22 College Football Playoff: When Did the Georgia Bulldogs Last Win a National Championship?

As often tends to be the case, the Alabama Crimson Tide are the only thing keeping Kirby Smart and the Georgia Bulldogs from making history.

Smart and the No. 3-seeded Bulldogs will face Nick Saban’s No. 1-ranked Crimson Tide on Monday, Jan. 10, in the 2021-22 National Championship Game. Although Alabama is searching for its seventh title in Saban’s 15 seasons, Georgia hopes to finally break through and end a lengthy championship drought.

The Georgia Bulldogs are searching for their first national championship since 1980

When the Bulldogs last celebrated a national title, Saban had just completed his first season as Ohio State’s defensive backs coach. Meanwhile, Smart was only 5 years old.

Despite remaining an SEC powerhouse and a blue-blood program for decades, the Bulldogs haven’t won a national title since the 1980 season. On Jan. 1, 1981, Georgia — a 1-point underdog despite being 10-0 — defeated Notre Dame, 17-10, in the Sugar Bowl.

Of course, this was before the BCS or College Football Playoff featured a legitimate national championship game. Nonetheless, Georgia’s victory that day and the 11-0 season ensured the team finished No. 1 in the Associated Press and Coaches’ Polls.

Back then, that was enough. UGA earned 58.5 first-place points to Alabama’s 3.5 in the final AP Poll (36-3 in the Coaches’ Poll) and locked up the second official national championship in program history.

Georgia technically has five other national titles, depending on who you ask

Much like their current policies, the NCAA’s methods of tracking history are complicated and divisive. The NCAA only officially recognizes Georgia’s 1980 title.

The majority of NCAA-recognized selectors named the Bulldogs the national champions in 1942, a year where they went 11-1 and routed Florida 75-0. However, the AP ranked Ohio State No. 1 in the final poll.

Georgia also had several seasons where at least one designated selector considered the Bulldogs national champions even if the main selector and the NCAA disagreed. That includes the 1968 season, when UGA entered the Sugar Bowl at 8-1 before a shocking 16-2 loss to No. 9 Arkansas. Much like 1942, the NCAA officially recognizes Ohio State as the 1968 champion.

Georgia had similar instances repeat in 1920 (California is recognized as the only champion), 1927 (Illinois and Yale are co-champions), and 1946 (Notre Dame is the only champion, according to the NCAA)

The Bulldogs need to finally overcome the Alabama juggernaut if they’re to end the title drought

On Sept. 22, 2007, No. 22 Georgia defeated No. 16 Alabama, 26-23, in overtime in Tuscaloosa. Yes, you read that correctly. Saban left Bryant–Denny Stadium a loser in his first taste of the Alabama-Georgia rivalry.

Alabama got its revenge on Georgia a year later, winning 41-30 in Athens. To this point, the Bulldogs still haven’t rediscovered how to crack the code and defeat Saban.

As of January 2022, the Bulldogs are winless in their last seven matchups against the Crimson Tide, including the SEC Championship Games in 2012, 2018, and 2021. Alabama also defeated Georgia in the 2017-18 National Championship Game.

Smart has the Bulldogs trending in the right direction, and Georgia should remain a perennial CFP contender. However, there is still work to be done if the Bulldogs hope to end their title drought.

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